DIALOGUE AND DISCUSSION ON EDUCATION, ENVIRONMENT AND RACE
I find the following excerpts useful in thinking through my own experience as a child, and my ideas and assumptions about the nature of authority, autonomy and respect.
"Discipline is different from punishment because it teaches children to learn from their mistakes rather than making them suffer for them. Imposing suffering actually shifts the focus from the lesson that needs to be learned to who is in control. [P]unishment focuses on the parent being responsible for controlling a child's behavior, rather than the child controlling his/her own behavior, which is the focus of discipline.
Whenever possible, REVEAL the consequences of misbehavior ahead of time so children will know what to expect the next time they choose to misbehave:
'If you want to ride your bike, you need to stay on the sidewalk or I'll know you've decided to put it in the garage.'
Notice how the responsibility for the behavior and its effect are on the child rather than the parent. Can you tell how different this sounds than if the parent said, "Don't go in the street or I'll take your bike away." First of all, this wording gives the child the idea to go in the street, then challenges the child to test the rule by wording it like a power threat.
Present your comments in a RESPECTFUL manner that lets children know they have a choice about how they behave.
'When I see you riding your bike in the street, I know you're not ready to ride it safely and need to put the bike away.'
Notice how different this sounds than, "That's it, get out of the street! I'm taking your bike away for the rest of the day! You could get killed out there!" When we speak to children in disrespectful ways, they respect us less and tend to talk back at us disrespectfully more often. We earn others' respect by showing respect to them first.
[A]llow children an opportunity to correct the behavior while the lesson is fresh in their minds.
'You can try to ride your bike again on the sidewalk after lunch.'
Notice that the time limit was a matter of hours, rather than days. Children need practice at being good -- and we need to be honest with ourselves and decide whether our goal is to teach positive behavior, to show who is in power, or to get revenge."
(I refer you to: http://www.parentstoolshop.com/HTML/tips6.htm for the full text.)
I think that idea that parenting requires mutual respect is pretty revolutionary for most so-called black people. I personally have to endure a Grand Inquisition with my grandparents every time I don’t take some young person by the hand and beat them into submission for some perceived offense.
The irony is that beating a child for losing control mimics the very behavior you are attempting to correct!
I really appreciate the author's comment that children need practice at being good. We might replace "good" with something a bit more concrete - "responsible," "smart," "aware" - but the point stands. We need to give young people opportunities to practice making smart choices. In the bike example, allowing the child to try again after only a few hours facilitates that practicing component.
My questions to the group:
As a child, did you experience respect from authority figures during times of discipline and/or punishment?
As an authority figure, in what ways do you express respect or disrespect toward younger people or subordinates when it comes to discipline and/or punishment?
How can we best help those around us (both young and older) to develop self-discipline and self-corrective habits?
How can we best develop these traits within ourselves?
As a child I was beaten and abused by my father and my teachers and administrators. I grew to hate authority, all of it. As I grew larger physically I made a decision never agin with impunity would anyone hit me. I meant that. As a consequence I have been arrested several times for assault because my hatred for abuse would cloud my judgment. It never really mattered to me of they were police or naval officers I could not stand the disrespect from anyone.
I never physically abused my children. I was always pretty patient with them. Later I started reading about effective parenting methods. It naturally made sense. Then I read Wonder Child and later Disciple Violence and the African American Child. That did for me. I strive to be the voice and ear of reason. I made it a practice to listen, really listen to my children's objections and their desires. I don't own my children. They are not mine. They are not property and besides I don't want to be put in a nursing home.
The Nursing Home is a serious consequence for an inconsiderate action that probably could have been avoided.
Namaska Ms. Pope,
I am hoping that this post will lead to our on-line class where this issue will be the subject of the course and YOU will be the conductor and Headmaster for this department---Thank You for the recent inputs and I know this is the start of something that is very real.
As a older person I think it is important that I give diligent attention to a child. That first thing is at least to listen attentively to them. I also think it is important to encourage the child without being overly critical. As a child I completely shut down to criticism period. What was odd for me at least was my father was not very critical. In fact he was most encouraging. Talking about mixed signals and while talking about signals. I think a huge mistake many adults make is to think children do not analyze our actions. I knew my parents in ways they could not imagine. Children who live in abusive situations develop a keen sense of awareness. I could hear how my father was breathing when he came through the door and could tell if he was in a good or bad mood. I was hyper-vigilant to adult's moods because my experience was adults were not too stable.
A child need to feel safe. One thing I used as a strategy was to allow my children to say no to me. I didn't take offense at it. Saying no didn't mean they were disrespectful, it said they wanted to set a boundary. If that boundary was one that was healthy for them I honored it. If it wasn't I would reason and bargain with them.
What I learned was that correct and healthy parenting and child rearing started with a healthy adult(s).
Namaska Jessica. Thank you for posting. I recall as a child some of the beatings I received. I vowed that if I ever had children I would never subject them to the beatings I received. Sad thing is I believed that there is a difference between a beating and a spanking. I believed the words of the bible and that the pastor spoke, "spare the rod spoil the child." Sadly I followed what was taught to me that spankings are necessary. It was rare that I had to give spankings to my children but I'm realizing even one time putting my hands on my children was wrong. I remember being told wait til your father gets home and wondering if he would be too tired or forget that we had a beating coming. I think the light bulb went off when I used to hear my wife tell the children if you don't do this or that I'm leaving you here with your father and I thought why should I be the punishment? I also recall times when I was a deputy sheriff and I would hear parents tell their children, if they didnt behave I would come and get them. In both cases as a parent and as a deputy sheriff I was in a position to protect them not cause harm. How could the children not become confused with on one hand being told to call the police when you need help but also recall that the same police would come and get them if they did not behave. Shouldn't a child be excited about a parent coming home rather than worry about the parent walking through the door?
I recently finished reading Dr. B's book, Discipline Violence and the African American Child and the book took me back to the time I saw the movie roots and seeing the character having his back whipped. I now understand where this practice came from and I wonder how many continue this practice. I've heard all the excuses of what is causing violence in the youth, if the children were asked I'm sure their answer would be that they learned it from the people who are supposed to protect and care for them. I feel better knowing I also used the techniques you pointed out, but after coming to the knowledge of what physical punishment can do to a child, I'm ashamed of my behavior as a parent. Mankind is supposed to be the most intelligent being on the planet but if man really watched the so called animals in the wild, alot could be learned. Thank you for sharing proper techniques to use with the little people we love. Peace Lord.