Is child punishment ever necessary? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-05-2013, 08:34 PM
 
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Automatic obedience is not at all the appropriate response to a boss's expectations, anyway.  Sometimes your boss asks you to do something that doesn't make sense and the appropriate response is to explain why you have a better idea.  Sometimes your boss asks you to do something illegal or unethical and the appropriate response is to refuse.  Sometimes your boss has stupid, pointless rules for the workplace and the appropriate response may be to ignore them when you can get away with it.  Sometimes your boss's expectations make the job unpleasant for you and the appropriate response is to look for another job.

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Old 08-05-2013, 08:59 PM
 
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An interesting discussion for sure. I grew up with being punished all the time, and it didn't help with whatever the supposed problem was. I never understood what I was doing wrong or how to fix it, so I couldn't improve my behavior. I have the distinct sense, looking back, that my mother just did whatever she could to get me to toe the line until she was no longer responsible for me. My "bad behavior" was basically not reading her mind or doing what she wanted me to do, and also some impulse control stuff. The punishments were stuff like being confined to my room (for hours or days), not being allowed to go to activities, having my stuff taken away, etc. 

 

It doesn't teach your child not to (for instance) hit their sibling if you take away a toy or a privilege. If you don't address why they're hitting their sibling, the behavior will likely repeat. Maybe they need help with impulse control, or maybe the sibling is baiting them and they both need some help with how to interact with each other. If you discuss and analyze the situation and it turns out your kid can restrain himself and it is real fighting not "play fighting" and he knows that hitting hurts and his brother isn't picking on him that much and he just likes hitting his brother because he thinks it's funny to get a rise out of him, but when you tell him he can't watch TV for the rest of the day if he does and that actually stops him... well, then maybe that's best to leave that punishment in place for the brother's safety, but I would also think some work would have to be done on that kid's total lack of empathy! The punishment doesn't fix the situation even if it stops that specific behavior. That kid is going to do something else and it's not going to be good. 

 

As for what qualifies as natural consequences vs made-up consequences vs. punishment... I think a lot of this stuff needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis, and there are probably multiple approaches that are viable. Some of my "consequences" stem from what I am and am not willing to do. I do think that it's appropriate for parents to set age-appropriate boundaries with kids as to what the parent will and will not do. For instance, I do have the rule that if she drops something more than a couple of times I will put it away for later, because my boundary is that I don't want to get sucked into that she-drops-it-I-pick-it-up game. There are other rules that we have because she has not demonstrated the ability to handle the situation. She is not allowed to play with toys while eating because they get messy--she can choose between eating, or getting down and playing with the toy. She has to either hold hands with an adult in a parking lot or be carried because I don't want to take the risk of her running out in front of a car. Does she get upset when I enforce these things? Yeah, sometimes, but part of life is that there are rules that are there for a reason, and you may not like them but that doesn't mean you don't have to follow them.

 

My daughter is 2, so a lot of this more complex reasoning has not yet come into play for us. 

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Old 08-05-2013, 09:54 PM
 
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No.  Punishment is not necessary.  Punishment is doing something to a child to make them feel badly about themselves.  Consequences, on the other hand, are any actions that need to be undertaken by the child to make a situation right again.  When a child has finished with a punishment, he/she feels worse about him/herself.  When a child has finished with a consequence, he/she feels reconciled with those he/she loves.  

 

Just floating that.  Still trying to figure out where the limits to this viewpoint may be.  


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Old 08-06-2013, 01:53 AM
 
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Yes, sometimes a kid might perceive something as a punishment that we don't intend that way, but I think intent matters quite a bit too.

yup yup!!! and our kids can see through us EASILY!!!!  that's why i think they can tell. 


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Old 08-06-2013, 06:20 AM
 
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Automatic obedience is not at all the appropriate response to a boss's expectations, anyway.  

Yes, and more common than some sort of civil disobedience is the likelihood that in the real world adults will need to find solutions to problems without relying on punishments.  

 

I think some people confuse no discipline with GD.  I know as many parents who do not focus on "GD" as I do parents who do and, IME, there are as many lax parents or ineffective disciplinarians in both sets. It's just not every parent's strong suit. 

 

Picture this scenario... 

 

Two toddlers from different families. One is struggling with sharing and is put in punitive time-outs for poor behavior. The other also struggles with sharing but the parents have decided to closely observe and intervene rather than punish. 

 

One could argue that the parent willing to punish will also closely observe and intervene but...IME there would be no need to punish if the parent were to do that.  It is possible to be a very "strict" and dedicated disciplinarian without relying on punishment (which gets us back to the whole semantic thing, I suppose).   

 

I think the OP phrasing is interesting. It says, "Is punishment ever necessary", not "Is punishment ever OK".  These two things are very different. 


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Old 08-06-2013, 06:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Posta mother.  

 

And, yes, I do agree. I don't think there is a big enough difference between, "That's it!! We are putting the lego platform in the attic when we get home because I simply can not listen to more arguing over who gets the good platform piece," and, "Listen loves, I notice that we only have one platform and that you both really like to play with it. It has been creating tension in our family and I can not think of a solution that doesn't involve buying a new piece, which is not possible right now. I want you both to be able to focus on the joy of playing with legos so I have decided to put the platform piece away for now," to create a situation where parents feel like they are so different in how they parent/discipline. 

I see both your examples as consequences.

A punishment would be: I'm taking away your lego platform because you didn't finish all the food on your plate or you got an F at school.


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Old 08-06-2013, 06:34 AM
 
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Another good definition to differentiate between punishment and consequence is: does it leave your dk's and your own dignity intact? If not, it's punishment.

 

For example, if my ds becomes angry and starts yelling at me, I could say:

- "You're being disrespectful, and you're going to bed without supper/going to get a spanking" - which will affect his dignity

- "You're being disrespectful; you need to go to your room and calm down / or I'm not in the mood of reading you a story right now" - which is a consequence

- or I can just ignore him and let him yell at me, which wouldn't leave much of my dignity intact


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Old 08-06-2013, 06:34 AM
 
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I see both your examples as consequences.

A punishment would be: I'm taking away your lego platform because you didn't finish all the food on your plate or you got an F at school.

Yes, this is the semantic issue. How we define punishment is kind of key and it helps us see that we are all probably way more similar than it may seem on this thread.  So, for me, it is not enough to have the consequence relate to the behavior issue. To me, that consequence isn't addressing the behavior the way I would like in an ideal situation. 

 

For me, I do try to avoid parent imposed consequences, even if they are closely related to the behavior problem. But, that is NOT to say that I am always successful. It is just to say that I have not found those times that I have "punished" (IMO, there is not much of a difference between what we are talking about - though I do understand that for some people there is), I have not found it to be the highest form of discipline. 

 

In the Lego example, a higher form of discipline would be to help the kids find their own solution to the problem, whether that be to figure out a way to share, get another piece, or to decide for themselves to put the other piece away. 

 

But, yes, this takes time and energy that we don't always have and YES it is harder depending on the temperament of the child(ren). 


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Old 08-06-2013, 07:02 AM
 
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Posting again to be sure that I'm not being divisive...

 

After 12 years of parenting, I have not ruled out parent imposed consequences that do not relate well to the behavior issue - not for either of my children.

 

For my toddler, I do not know yet whether some sort of time-out will end up being a good solution to problems for her. Time-outs would have been a disaster for my older DC but I think some of that is temperament.  Also, with my older DC I had the privilege of  being home with her all the time. With my toddler, she will need a form of discipline that can be used by care providers. So far, she's well behaved but I do not take for granted that she will always be so easy. 

 

With my older DC who is 11 I have not ruled out grounding, which has some weird old-fashioned appeal to both of us, I think. I honestly think my DC1 would think it was SO COOL if she got grounded. ;-)   Grounding is sort of the archetype for punishment, no?  It may well be that my older DC will prefer grounding at some point and so long as it serves the purpose of driving a point home about some behavior problem (rather than doing the whole "I did my time" cycle, which is a pit-fall of punishment, IMO), I'd be happy to take this route because it's so easy and because I imagine the teen years being a time where parents and teens to crave time together. 

 

Also, when it comes to making the punishment fit the crime -- I suppose I'm skeptical about that because I am a master at that as a parent. I feel like I could make any infraction fit whatever punishment I wanted. On a particularly low-energy day, I have been known to make the punishment for irritating behavior be cleaning the house because mama is irritated and a clean house will fix that problem. ;-)  And, I do think that's OK!   love.gif


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Old 08-06-2013, 08:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Something can be both a consequence and a punishment. In fact, really all punishments are consequences, as they happen because of an initial behavior. Punishment is specifically a negative consequence created intentionally to try to make someone learn not to do something again. It's a part of behaviorism.
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Old 08-06-2013, 08:47 AM
 
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Something can be both a consequence and a punishment. In fact, really all punishments are consequences, as they happen because of an initial behavior. Punishment is specifically a negative consequence created intentionally to try to make someone learn not to do something again. It's a part of behaviorism.

 

I can see the value in wanting to go to psychology to define punishment as a way to frame the discussion, especially when one gets to down to the specific meaning of words. That said, I'm not sure that the behaviorist definition of punishment is that well applied to how regular parents interpret the word.

 

The trouble with this type of conversation is that one parent says that they never punish and another parent is like, "WHAT!!" and then a whole thing happens where there is this debate over how that is even possible...only to find that both parents use consequences in almost the exact same way but the way they define words is different. 

 

That is something I remember from the time we had a bunch of TCS folks here. I was the more conservative "strict" one and I struggled with TCS (Taking Children Seriously) but mainly I think I was just more willing to or perhaps more sensitive to where I, as the parent, was being coercive. Often times we were describing VERY similar parenting (as I think we are doing on this thread) but how the parent sees the situation or defines words is different. 

 

Even me, I am saying that I do try to parent with limited parent imposed consequences but I certainly haven't achieved that. And I do accept and think it's totally OK to fall short of our own personal ideals. Maybe someone else is just not interested in having that as a goal if they know they will not achieve it. So, in the end, we have the exact same parenting/discipline style but how we talk about it is different. 

 

ETA: So, why say that I try to parent without imposed consequences if I know that I will not be able to do that or even if I know that sometimes a parent imposed consequence is the simple solution...?  

 

Because experience has told me that the times where problem solving is a much better approach has been a bit random so I want to at least try to do that first without having the option of a consequence always hanging over the situation. Sometimes the non-consequence solutions are.just.so.easy and SO effective and so respectful and just domino into this mutual respect love fest.  love.gif  


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Old 08-06-2013, 09:08 AM
 
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Yes, sometimes a kid might perceive something as a punishment that we don't intend that way, but I think intent matters quite a bit too.

yup yup!!! and our kids can see through us EASILY!!!!  that's why i think they can tell. 

I would love to agree with you, but my younger daughter absolutely melts if she doesn't get her way and she knows it's in my power to change things.  So, if I can change it into something she prefers but don't, then it is a punishment no matter my intentions.  I would agree with the comments about intentions in theory, but in practice I think it can become a meaningless delineation.  I mean, even parents who do clearly punish, or those of us who strive for less punishment might have the similar intentions.  Too subjective.


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Old 08-06-2013, 09:31 AM
 
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BTW, I poked around around a little about what Kohn would say on the topic of language, specifically the differentiation between the term "consequence" and "punishment" and a few articles indicate that he does not especially value the distinction. For Kohn (according to a  few articles) it seems we can't just make a punishment logical and call it a consequence and say we've moved away from punishment.  Not that Kohn is the end all be all but since he was a focus of the OP, I thought I'd read a bit on what he would have to say on the subject. 

 

This is a good quote but there are several others out there: 

Quote:

First, let's make sure we agree on your first premise, which is that punishment is destructive. A number of people seem to think if we call it "consequences" or insert the modifier "logical," then it's okay. "Logical consequences" is an example of what I call "punishment lite," a kinder, gentler way of doing things to children instead of workingwith them.


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Old 08-06-2013, 11:12 AM
 
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I studied Kohn in college (particularly his classroom situations) and while I did like some of his concepts, for the most part I didn't agree with him.  And I still don't.  Granted, my baby is only 4 months so there's been no disciplining yet, but I do believe discipline is a necessary part of life and of growing up.  As adults, we experience discipline in the form of consequences.

 

I do believe parents have the job to be parents. It's old-school, yes, but one of a parent's job is to teach the child right and wrong.


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Old 08-06-2013, 12:52 PM
 
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I studied Kohn in college (particularly his classroom situations) and while I did like some of his concepts, for the most part I didn't agree with him.  And I still don't.  Granted, my baby is only 4 months so there's been no disciplining yet, but I do believe discipline is a necessary part of life and of growing up.  As adults, we experience discipline in the form of consequences.

 

I do believe parents have the job to be parents. It's old-school, yes, but one of a parent's job is to teach the child right and wrong.

Not to single you out because this is a pretty common reaction to "GD" or, I guess more specifically, non-punitive discipline but I wonder about your phrasing. 

 

To me, your response to the thread seems like maybe you think that non-punitive discipline isn't discipline or even parenting. I know that's not what you're saying but I wonder if you can elaborate a little and share where you're coming from.  

 

IME, we (as in all of us) parent without punishments most of the time. We are disciplining most if not all of the time. Modeling is the BEST most thorough, effective form of discipline, IMO.  From there are things that don't look like discipline but that very much are part of the spectrum like having age-appropriate expectations, meeting our kids needs for food, sleep, routine, comfort and etc. Then you get into behavior issues and how to address those and the non-punitive toolbox is HUGE. Even if you agree that punishment is sometimes and ok way to go, I think it can pretty much be agreed upon that in GD it shouldn't be the first tool.   

 

The thing is that we are not trying to create a consequence-free zone. Life happens, things get broken, people fall and get hurt, rules that are not ours must be followed, energy runs out, friends react to behavior, people get sad or angry. The world, as some say, is full of consequences. There is no need for parents to manufacture them. 

 

But, I'm not arguing for the damaging effect of the occasional punishment or logical consequence (I think kids will be fine with this set-up, I know mine are!) ...but against the notion that a child can not be raised well without it. 

 

ETA: 

 

I think where our mind goes when we think of non-punitive discipline is interesting. For me, when I hear about a family who has gotten through many years without punishment, I am impressed!  I don't assume that those kids are terrors - to the contrary, I assume they are pretty awesome and probably extraordinarily well behaved -- how else could a parent get through life without resorting to punishments or logical consequences. My instincts are to tell that parent that they rock!

 

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Old 08-06-2013, 03:27 PM
 
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I studied Kohn in college (particularly his classroom situations) and while I did like some of his concepts, for the most part I didn't agree with him.  And I still don't.  Granted, my baby is only 4 months so there's been no disciplining yet, but I do believe discipline is a necessary part of life and of growing up.  As adults, we experience discipline in the form of consequences.

 

I do believe parents have the job to be parents. It's old-school, yes, but one of a parent's job is to teach the child right and wrong.

mama your reply makes me smile. 

 

because what i thought the kind of mother i would be when i was pregnant is so different the kind of mother i AM today. all those thoughts and ideas went out the door. 

 

because i had a super intense high needs baby/toddler/child -  meaning forever intense and high needs in different ways - and i am so so so glad about that. she taught me how to be her mother and i am super grateful for that. 

 

all i am saying to you is keep an open mind. alfie just might end up being your greatest buddy. you just never know now. 


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Old 08-06-2013, 03:35 PM
 
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I studied Kohn in college (particularly his classroom situations) and while I did like some of his concepts, for the most part I didn't agree with him.  And I still don't.  Granted, my baby is only 4 months so there's been no disciplining yet, but I do believe discipline is a necessary part of life and of growing up.  As adults, we experience discipline in the form of consequences.

 

I do believe parents have the job to be parents. It's old-school, yes, but one of a parent's job is to teach the child right and wrong.


Most of the time adults aren't given deliberately imposed consequences for their bad behavior.  It would be pretty unusual for your neighbors, relatives, coworkers, or acquaintances to give you a punishment, no matter how badly you treat them.  Other people might get angry with you, decide not to invite you to their party, tell mutual acquaintances bad things about you, and so forth, but unless you break the law or the rules at your workplace and get caught, you probably won't experience a deliberate punishment as an adult.  So why do kids need to be given deliberate punishments to prepare them for life as adults?

 

I agree that parents should teach their kids right from wrong, but I don't see how punishment is necessary to accomplish this.  Why isn't enough just to explain to your kid why hitting is wrong?  If it takes the threat of punishment to prevent him from hitting, that means he doesn't really feel it's wrong (or doesn't care that it's wrong.)  So you can punish him and that may affect his behavior, but how will it solve the problem that he doesn't really get the wrongness of hitting?

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Old 08-06-2013, 04:32 PM
 
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Not to single you out because this is a pretty common reaction to "GD" or, I guess more specifically, non-punitive discipline but I wonder about your phrasing. 

 

To me, your response to the thread seems like maybe you think that non-punitive discipline isn't discipline or even parenting. I know that's not what you're saying but I wonder if you can elaborate a little and share where you're coming from.  

 

IME, we (as in all of us) parent without punishments most of the time. We are disciplining most if not all of the time. Modeling is the BEST most thorough, effective form of discipline, IMO.  From there are things that don't look like discipline but that very much are part of the spectrum like having age-appropriate expectations, meeting our kids needs for food, sleep, routine, comfort and etc. Then you get into behavior issues and how to address those and the non-punitive toolbox is HUGE. Even if you agree that punishment is sometimes and ok way to go, I think it can pretty much be agreed upon that in GD it shouldn't be the first tool.   

 

The thing is that we are not trying to create a consequence-free zone. Life happens, things get broken, people fall and get hurt, rules that are not ours must be followed, energy runs out, friends react to behavior, people get sad or angry. The world, as some say, is full of consequences. There is no need for parents to manufacture them. 

 

But, I'm not arguing for the damaging effect of the occasional punishment or logical consequence (I think kids will be fine with this set-up, I know mine are!) ...but against the notion that a child can not be raised well without it. 

 

ETA: 

 

I think where our mind goes when we think of non-punitive discipline is interesting. For me, when I hear about a family who has gotten through many years without punishment, I am impressed!  I don't assume that those kids are terrors - to the contrary, I assume they are pretty awesome and probably extraordinarily well behaved -- how else could a parent get through life without resorting to punishments or logical consequences. My instincts are to tell that parent that they rock!

 

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Happy to elaborate.  I was at lunch and thinking over my post with the thoughts "that was badly worded".  irked.gif

 

I really am in favor of gentle parenting.  But, as others in this thread have mentioned, I've seen kids who seem to have no behavioral skills whatsoever because their parents seem to be just too sweet and practically fearful of upsetting the child.  I'm sure this is what you mean by the delusion some people have of non-punitive parenting. 

 

I think that very young children aren't ready to internalize lessons on the whys of right and wrong.  This age varies from child to child, but I don't think one can expect to take a very young child and try to reason morals with him. I think most agree to remove a child that is doing something wrong from the situation, but is it always the best solution to then try to reason with a child that just isn't ready to comprehend what I'm saying?  I think in some situations, some sort of punishment is in order, something immediate that does let the child know such-n-such is not okay.  I'm a big believer in time-outs from my teaching days. 

 

I agree with your examples presented here, nor do I think traditional punishments are necessary all the time.  But I have a friend whose children are holy terrors because she doesn't believe in ever stepping up and being in charge as the mother. Her words, not mine. 

 

However, my parenting philosophy as it currently stands is "I'm the Mom, Baby is the Child, I am responsible for your well-being, I am therefore in charge, not you."  I probably will do variations of time-out, I will be taking away priviledges (it's not morally imperitive for my daughter to one day have a cell phone and a tablet) I will probably scold in the earlier years without bothering to explain why, and I will not seek to put explaining and talking through problems in too prominent a place before my daughter is ready to comprehend. 


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Old 08-06-2013, 04:37 PM
 
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Most of the time adults aren't given deliberately imposed consequences for their bad behavior.  It would be pretty unusual for your neighbors, relatives, coworkers, or acquaintances to give you a punishment, no matter how badly you treat them.  Other people might get angry with you, decide not to invite you to their party, tell mutual acquaintances bad things about you, and so forth, but unless you break the law or the rules at your workplace and get caught, you probably won't experience a deliberate punishment as an adult.  So why do kids need to be given deliberate punishments to prepare them for life as adults?

 

I agree that parents should teach their kids right from wrong, but I don't see how punishment is necessary to accomplish this.  Why isn't enough just to explain to your kid why hitting is wrong?  If it takes the threat of punishment to prevent him from hitting, that means he doesn't really feel it's wrong (or doesn't care that it's wrong.)  So you can punish him and that may affect his behavior, but how will it solve the problem that he doesn't really get the wrongness of hitting?

 

I tried to address this in my just-before-this post, but I don't feel I gave it enough attention. 

 

Your first paragraph... very true, great points, and I do see them and agree. 

 

Your second...  if a child isn't development ready to understand the difference between right and wrong, I still have to stop them from harming another person or another person's property.  I can't just say "Sorry, my child isn't ready to comprehend the wrongness of this yet, so you'll just have to deal."   

 

Granted, I do believe right and wrong can be taught at age appropriate increments, and I believe one of those earlier levels is simply letting my kid know that behavior is not okay.  ICM mentioned age-appropriate expectations.  If they're not capable to comprehend why, they still need to know it's not okay.  I do believe that, if done correctly, extrinsic motivation can lead into intrinsic. 

 

Another question in the best regards (because I am a new mom), what do you do if explaining to your child why hitting is wrong doesn't stop him from hitting? 


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Old 08-06-2013, 05:13 PM
 
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I do believe parents have the job to be parents. It's old-school, yes, but one of a parent's job is to teach the child right and wrong.

This statement always seems to assume there is only one way to be a parent.  It assumes that how children behave right now this minute is the litmus test to the effectiveness of the parents to be "parents".  Unfortunately, to properly assess how "parent" a parent is can take the whole of a child's childhood.  The kids best behaved at this minute at 5yo are often the ones terrorizing frat row on a Saturday night.  

 

I know you are getting a lot of flack about this statement, and unfortunately you are getting the feedback about every time I've heard this, which isn't fair to you.  I just wanted to make this statement in general, not as a personal attack.  So, sorry if you are getting the brunt of it.


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Old 08-06-2013, 05:17 PM
 
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Your second...  if a child isn't development ready to understand the difference between right and wrong, I still have to stop them from harming another person or another person's property.  I can't just say "Sorry, my child isn't ready to comprehend the wrongness of this yet, so you'll just have to deal."   

I don't think anyone here would say that. We have an obligation to protect our children and the children they interact with. In my case, I would pull my kid aside and say, "I can't let you hurt him/her." I will sit with him until he calms down and then let him return to the play. If he just won't stop then we would go somewhere else.

Another question in the best regards (because I am a new mom), what do you do if explaining to your child why hitting is wrong doesn't stop him from hitting? 

Like I said above, I would remove him from the area. If he did it all the time I would have to be really vigilant about preventing it and try to find out why he was doing it. Sometimes it might even mean not taking him to play dates until he is past that stage.

Sorry I'm typing on my phone. The middle paragraph in the above quote is actually part of my reply. :-)

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Old 08-06-2013, 05:19 PM
 
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Another question in the best regards (because I am a new mom), what do you do if explaining to your child why hitting is wrong doesn't stop him from hitting? 

This is always the best question--one that I continually bring up because I am an anarchist at heart-- what if the child refuses to comply?  This is why I think that punishment (gentle) really is sometimes necessary for some kids in some instances.  Because there are children who refuse to comply, and for some things, it is important to stop them NOW.  For example, is picking up a child and removing them really gentle?  I doubt it, because it would not be an appropriate move for a child to big to be moved.  I am fine with removal, personally, but I definitely see it as a punishment because for many kids if they were big enough to effectively fight back, they would and that forces a parent to reconsider.  We need to extrapolate our actions onto children of other ages to help us gauge what is considered gentle.  Anyway, I can think of many possibilities along the spectrum of punishment/non-punishment for addressing hitting, but if we are exploring punishment as necessary or not, we need to address the "what-ifs", and the most important "what-if" is "what-if it doesn't stop the hitting"?


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Old 08-06-2013, 05:27 PM
 
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I think that very young children aren't ready to internalize lessons on the whys of right and wrong.  This age varies from child to child, but I don't think one can expect to take a very young child and try to reason morals with him. I think most agree to remove a child that is doing something wrong from the situation, but is it always the best solution to then try to reason with a child that just isn't ready to comprehend what I'm saying?  I think in some situations, some sort of punishment is in order, something immediate that does let the child know such-n-such is not okay.  I'm a big believer in time-outs from my teaching days. 

I agree with your examples presented here, nor do I think traditional punishments are necessary all the time.  But I have a friend whose children are holy terrors because she doesn't believe in ever stepping up and being in charge as the mother. Her words, not mine. 

However, my parenting philosophy as it currently stands is "I'm the Mom, Baby is the Child, I am responsible for your well-being, I am therefore in charge, not you."  I probably will do variations of time-out, I will be taking away priviledges (it's not morally imperitive for my daughter to one day have a cell phone and a tablet) I will probably scold in the earlier years without bothering to explain why, and I will not seek to put explaining and talking through problems in too prominent a place before my daughter is ready to comprehend. 

IMO, if they are too young to understand very simple reasoning, then they are probably too young to understand why they are being punished. To me, it just confuses them, so why do it? I think at that age distraction or removal is best. And always very gently (although don't get me wrong. I have lost my temper more than once!)

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Old 08-06-2013, 05:40 PM
 
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This statement always seems to assume there is only one way to be a parent.  It assumes that how children behave right now this minute is the litmus test to the effectiveness of the parents to be "parents".  Unfortunately, to properly assess how "parent" a parent is can take the whole of a child's childhood.  The kids best behaved at this minute at 5yo are often the ones terrorizing frat row on a Saturday night.  

 

I know you are getting a lot of flack about this statement, and unfortunately you are getting the feedback about every time I've heard this, which isn't fair to you.  I just wanted to make this statement in general, not as a personal attack.  So, sorry if you are getting the brunt of it.

 

Not bothered at all, but I do have to ask which of two sentences you were referring to.  I think we may both be speaking in general!


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Old 08-06-2013, 05:46 PM
 
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IMO, if they are too young to understand very simple reasoning, then they are probably too young to understand why they are being punished. To me, it just confuses them, so why do it? I think at that age distraction or removal is best. And always very gently (although don't get me wrong. I have lost my temper more than once!)


I agree with that, removal or distraction as good choices.  But they should not count as a lesson in if something were right or wrong.  Removal/distraction are just what they are, with absolutely no connection to the misbehavior.  If you removed or distracted a child, I don't think you should get to think you taught them a lesson or solved a deeper problem as I doubt the child will understand why he was removed.  Not against them by any means or trying to put words in your mouth, just saying. 


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Old 08-06-2013, 05:49 PM
 
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Happy to elaborate.  I was at lunch and thinking over my post with the thoughts "that was badly worded".  irked.gif

 

No worries!  love.gif

 

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I really am in favor of gentle parenting.  But, as others in this thread have mentioned, I've seen kids who seem to have no behavioral skills whatsoever because their parents seem to be just too sweet and practically fearful of upsetting the child.  I'm sure this is what you mean by the delusion some people have of non-punitive parenting. 

I could have guessed that you had some "AP" friends who seemed GD in some ways who had some kids with seemingly unaddressed behavioral issues or seemingly permissive parenting.  What I can say to that first is that YES there are permissive parents out there. There are GD looking parents who are just permissive (but this is not GD, IMO). There are also a lot of families who do punish who are also permissive. Permissive parenting is lazy parenting and there are lazy parents who punish and lazy parents who don't punish. Punishing is not the cure for permissiveness - trust me!  (I apologize if the word lazy seems harsh...I am struggling for more gentle wording for what I'm trying to say)   

 

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I think that very young children aren't ready to internalize lessons on the whys of right and wrong.  This age varies from child to child, but I don't think one can expect to take a very young child and try to reason morals with him. I think most agree to remove a child that is doing something wrong from the situation, but is it always the best solution to then try to reason with a child that just isn't ready to comprehend what I'm saying?  I think in some situations, some sort of punishment is in order, something immediate that does let the child know such-n-such is not okay.  I'm a big believer in time-outs from my teaching days. 

I think that maybe you're thinking that a punishment for a young child makes sense in a situation where they are developmentally unable to understand some lesson. I want to concur with what meemee said - just wait. In the question you phrased below about how to tell a young child that hitting is wrong...well hitting is "wrong" but why?  Hitting hurts. Young children can often understand that. That said, many children do not need to be taught that hitting is not something we do. Yes, some do, but not all (neither of my kids really needed anything more than one shocked moment from me before they realized that hitting is just not something we do - modeling!).  

 

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However, my parenting philosophy as it currently stands is "I'm the Mom, Baby is the Child, I am responsible for your well-being, I am therefore in charge, not you."  I probably will do variations of time-out, I will be taking away priviledges (it's not morally imperitive for my daughter to one day have a cell phone and a tablet) I will probably scold in the earlier years without bothering to explain why, and I will not seek to put explaining and talking through problems in too prominent a place before my daughter is ready to comprehend. 

 

Also, if you were a teacher you probably have some sense that kids tend to meet expectations. Teaching and parenting are different, obviously. I do tend to wonder how well Kohn would work in my DC's district (even though I know he has worked with disadvantaged discricts) and I have seen his homework philosophy in action and think it is better in theory than in practice. BUT, I have found his parenting philosophy to be pretty sound. That doesn't mean that I put a whole bunch of pressure to follow it to a T but we've been well served (as have our kids) by taking the punishment and rewards out of the daily equation. 

 

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Your second...  if a child isn't development ready to understand the difference between right and wrong, I still have to stop them from harming another person or another person's property.  I can't just say "Sorry, my child isn't ready to comprehend the wrongness of this yet, so you'll just have to deal."   

 

Granted, I do believe right and wrong can be taught at age appropriate increments, and I believe one of those earlier levels is simply letting my kid know that behavior is not okay.  ICM mentioned age-appropriate expectations.  If they're not capable to comprehend why, they still need to know it's not okay.  I do believe that, if done correctly, extrinsic motivation can lead into intrinsic.

Sure! And I agree with your comment about the extrinsic -> intrinsic to some extent as well.

 

I also think there are a lot of young children's behavioral issues that just go away. That's a hard thing to accept as a parent. Of course it doesn't mean just letting your kid hit people or steals stuff (not to anyone with enough interest in discipline to post here!) but sometimes it means just intervening gently, over and over again until they grow out of it.  I know that probably sounds like the permissive way out but it's not permissive, it IS parent intensive but, IME, so is punishment and "waiting it out" is often (IMO), as effective as punishment when dealing with impulse control issues and developmental readiness. 

 

This is a bit off-topic but I can not say enough how long the concept of positive assumptions goes for kids - even toddlers. Try it!  Just ask your kid to do some small chore with the fullest bit of confidence that they will do it...and they will!  It's amazing.  Assume that they won't fall when they climb high. Assume that they will play well with others (and when they don't the best tool is the sheer shock from their parent at their behavior).  Assume that even if you were willing to hide their tail...that you will never need to. 

 

Yea, that's not the end of it but it's the start and it goes a LONG way, or at least it did for my kids (so far).  


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Old 08-06-2013, 05:51 PM
 
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I agree with that, removal or distraction as good choices.  But they should not count as a lesson in if something were right or wrong.  Removal/distraction are just what they are, with absolutely no connection to the misbehavior.  If you removed or distracted a child, I don't think you should get to think you taught them a lesson or solved a deeper problem as I doubt the child will understand why he was removed.  Not against them by any means or trying to put words in your mouth, just saying. 

I'm not trying to teach them a deep lesson at that point. I'm just taking charge of the situation so no one gets hurt and also taking into consideration that what he is doing has more to do with development than "misbehavior".

Actually, now that I think of it one lesson he is learning even at a young age is that all people should be treated with empathy and compassion according to where they are in life. This is the most valuable lesson one can learn in my opinion.

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Old 08-06-2013, 05:56 PM
 
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There is also the question of whether kids need to be taught that hitting is wrong. Do they? 

 

I think that very question could use a bit of thought. I think that kids are essentially born to please and with the desire to fit in. Hitting in most settings would be ruled out by those two fairly basic qualities. Some kids do hit. I don't think it's because they don't understand that it's wrong (even though the concept of right and wrong may be a bit abstract for them - it is for me, even!).  

 

In general I think kids hit because it's interesting. It gives a reaction that creates a desire to understand that reaction. At the point that they realize that it's not cool, that it isn't what people like and that it's kinda anti-social, they may not have impulse control to stop (or are getting mixed messages from those around them).  

 

Or kids hit because they are angry and have not yet learned outlets for that. In that case the lesson is not that hitting is wrong but ways to express anger. 


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Old 08-06-2013, 05:57 PM
 
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"IMO, if they are too young to understand very simple reasoning, then they are probably too young to understand why they are being punished."

 

Well, kind of and kind of not. I think that instant punishment could function as operant conditioning in little kids--grab something you're not supposed to, get a smack. They can probably understand that connection before they can understand the actual reason for not grabbing the item in question (be that it's messy, hot, breakable, someone else is using it, whatever). Punishment that is at all delayed is pointless in this situation, because they won't connect it to the transgression. A child who is old enough to understand why a punishment is being done now for something they did previously is also old enough to communicate with by another technique. 

 

It's the same reasoning of squirting cats with a water bottle to send the "get off the table" message. If there is an instant correspondence between human seeing cat on table and human squirting cat, after a few rounds the cat might make the "get on the table, get squirted" connection. There would be no sense squirting the cat several minutes later as it would not make the connection. 

 

Not that I'm saying I favor smacking a toddler for grabbing something they shouldn't, but I can at least see why it might be effective. There are better approaches to those situations for sure. 

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Old 08-06-2013, 06:01 PM
 
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ICM, I will not quote your whole post but it was good and I think we may be more similar in views than we think.  I keep thinking "Yes, that's what I was getting at!"

 

As for punishment/rewards, I still believe in consequences, but rewards for every little thing?  Didn't grow up with it.  Sure, we did fun things and sure, there were occasional rewards (more like celebrations) for uncommon things, but by and large you did what you were supposed to do because that is how the family ran and you were part of the family.  Yeah, it is rather Kohn-ish.

 

I suppose that yes, I do believe in "punishments" according to my own definition:  consequences that may or may not be entirely natural, and I do believe in standing up, being the mother.  If I have to manipulate a consequence to protect my own interest even to model that others will protect their own interests, I will.


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