Can we discuss punishment and control? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 17 Old 02-18-2014, 06:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel that so much of a child's defiance comes from a place of feeling disrespected, and bullied.   I would like to get other's thoughts...

 

1.) What is appropriate punishment? 

 

2) When should parents control their children?

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#2 of 17 Old 02-18-2014, 06:53 PM
 
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:lurk

 

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#3 of 17 Old 02-18-2014, 09:33 PM
 
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I'll have a go.

 

It might end up being a discussion about semantics though - punishment versus 'discipline'.

 

1. Have no idea really. The words gentle discipline resonate with me, but to-date, I'm struggling to implement an overall approach to the huge challenges of child-rearing that I could confidently say falls into this remit. I also like the words 'natural consequences' that I read for the first time here in this forum I think - and I even started a thread asking more about it, but confess to being confused on this too as so many things don't appear to have natural consequences, OR the natural consequences could be easily interpreted as punishment. e.g. You don't want to eat your dinner....then I'll take it away (I mean, if I'm going this way....serving up something....and it's not eaten....eventually....it the plate will have to be taken away). But taking away food some think (I'm not sure how I feel on this one to be honest) would be an unhealthy precedent to set.

Likewise I have the same confusion over many.....many.....many 'discipline' issues. Especially the notion of gentle discipline and setting limits....

I'll await other answers.

 

2. Equally unknowledgeable and inexperienced - but parental physical control might be asserted I would hope in a matter of dire physical safety. Beyond this....it would depend on one's definition of control maybe? If control means getting one's way at all costs...then, that seems highly undesirable. Is there another meaning to the words parental control? Other situations?

I guess if you substituted the word 'guidance' it would take on a whole different hue....and would be much easier to answer?

 

Maybe that's the point?

 

:)

 

My two cents.

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#4 of 17 Old 02-18-2014, 10:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by FisherFamily View Post
 

I feel that so much of a child's defiance comes from a place of feeling disrespected, and bullied.   I would like to get other's thoughts...

 

1.) What is appropriate punishment? 

 

2) When should parents control their children?

My opinions:

 

1) Punishment is usually a bad idea.

2) Pretty much all the time.  Or hardly at all, depending on what exactly you mean by control.  You want to keep your kid from hurting other people or himself or damaging property.  You probably want to make sure he brushes his teeth, uses a car seat or seatbelt, eats something besides candy, etc.  So you should always be ready to step in and stop mean or dangerous behavior or enforce health and safety rules. But you shouldn't be aiming for absolute control over every aspect of his behavior.  There should be lots of room for compromise over most things and lots of times when the kid gets to make decisions for himself.

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#5 of 17 Old 02-19-2014, 06:56 AM
 
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I hate the word "punishment."  My kids (21, 18, 15, 13, 10months) have never been punished in the sense that they've had stuff taken away, or lost privileges randomly.  I'm trying to think of an example of how I've handled issues, but am having a hard time coming up with anything.  

 

Ok, this is theoretical, but it works.  My two oldest DDs are driving.  Oldest has her own car, but 18yo is driving the hand-me-down kid car.  If said DD were to say, drive recklessly or stay out all night or do something like that, I wouldn't trust her with my car, and I'd not allow her to drive it.  (and to be clear, DD would be APPALLED that I would even suggest that she do that)  

 

We're not a huge "rule" family.  The kids don't have curfews...they are responsible, hard-working busy kids.  I expect them to let me know where they are, and about when they'll be home, but other than that I trust them.  We had a blizzard-like snow storm yesterday, and both DDs were out driving (school, work), and I just trusted them to stay safe.  (Both cars are Trusty Subaru Outbacks with studded snow tires!)  

 

All of our family is expected to pitch in and help whenever it is needed.  Last night it was animal chores and shoveling and dinner prep and sick baby care.  They are expected to clean up after themselves, and for the most part, it works.  My youngest DD tends to be more scattered and she and I occasionally lock horns about her lack of "stuff management".  However, this same DD gets up early every morning to keep an ear out for her little brother (via baby monitor) so that I can go for my run, and she's very attentive to him, so I figure there is some wiggle room there, you know?

 

As far as the other question....I think that we need to control our kids in the sense that a pp said--not let them hurt other people/animals and stuff, and obviously things like car seats, keeping them from darting into the road, etc, but other than that, I'm pretty hands off.  I hate hearing parents nagging their kids to dress a certain way or to finishing eating all their food.  I figure, their bodies, their choices, you know?

 

:P

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#6 of 17 Old 02-19-2014, 10:48 AM
 
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Punishment will always lead to unknown results....so never.  And control?  I like the way farmer put it.  We're not into rules much either - there's the way we live, but they aren't really rules, just how we do things....use manners, act appropriate in public (as much as a 2yo can)....things I can easily enforce without punishing.  Color on the wall?  I take the markers away, not the whole coloring book.  Hit the dog too rough?  We chat about how it feels to be hit and apologize.  Run in the road?  You get a very scared mommy who YELLS in fear and the look my face is enough for her to say "ok got it, that scared mom, she's not mad, don't do it again". 

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#7 of 17 Old 02-24-2014, 06:41 AM
 
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I'm looking forward to reading more of this thread.

 

I try hard to avoid punishment.  I just don't feel like it's that effective for what I want to teach.  What I really want is to reach their heart and teach them integrity and how to treat people.  I fear that punishment endangers my ability to reach their heart and teaches them not to get caught, even though it may stop the behavior in question.   Sometimes I'm tempted because it seems so much easier; sometimes I do it just because I lose my temper... but I don't think it's ideal.

 

On control:  I'm thinking of control to mean things that would lead to power struggles.   I see control more as something you  "do to" someone else -- like time outs are a pretty common discipline technique, but at least in our house, they would be really controlling because they would involve great physical struggle to enforce. 

 

I'm trying to choose my battles -- to control only when it's about safety and maybe how we treat people.   To concentrate on reaching their hearts.  But it's hard.  I'm not perfect either...  When I'm trying really hard to clean the house and they leave everything all over the floor, I feel disrespected and that's when I tend to lose it. 

 

I've been thinking a lot lately about how to parent with authority, but not with control.   I think natural consequences are great, but I admit that sometimes I'm afraid it can turn into either control or permissiveness.  Take brushing teeth -- children won't always want to brush.  Yet they don't have the maturity to understand the consequences of not brushing, and that is a consequence that I want to protect them from.  So what to do?   And what about when the natural consequence is something that hurts relationships?  Like the natural consequence of being mean/unkind/disrespectful... is that people don't want to be around you.  This might be ok for a playdate, but a resentful parent isn't a great situation. 

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#8 of 17 Old 02-24-2014, 12:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by FisherFamily View Post
 

I feel that so much of a child's defiance comes from a place of feeling disrespected, and bullied.   I would like to get other's thoughts...

 

1.) What is appropriate punishment? 

 

2) When should parents control their children?

 

1.)  None, I think.  Too many societal wrongs exist because of a focus on penalizing, or avoiding being penalized.  DH and I modeled apology and restitution as best we could.

 

2.)  "Control" is kind of a charged word for me . . . we certainly stepped in to block or restrain (with a "that'll hurt so-and-so" or "you might get hit by a car" type of remark), other than that . . . not really. 

 

Our sons grew up without a list of formal rules.  It was just "don't-hurt-anyone-don't-break-anything."  I don't remember ever running into a situation that wasn't covered by that.  We were very sparing with "no," as well as gratuitous imperatives (anything other than a safety issue, in our opinion) -- so when we did calmly tell a kid to stop moving *immediately*, he knew he was about to step on a piece of glass barefoot or something.  And he put on his brakes, said a quick "thanks!" and moved on with his day.

 

I have to wonder how much defiance is a natural response to the injustice inherent in some common attitudes and behaviors towards children.  We were certainly on the receiving end of anger and criticism throughout their adolescence (they're 21 and 24 now), but they also have honored us with their confidences and taken good care of themselves and those around them.  All we had to do was give them a chance to grow into the people they were born being.

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#9 of 17 Old 04-13-2014, 11:34 AM
 
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1. Punishments create unnecessary conflict. We don't do them. There are sometimes consequences to actions (i.e., not enough sleep at night, tired the next day).

2. Controlling children is not necessary if there is a healthy, attached parent/child relationship with realistic expectations on each side. Children who grow up in this type of environment are generally eager to please and comply with gentle suggestions from parents and caregivers.


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#10 of 17 Old 04-14-2014, 04:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is a good thread, and good things to ponder.

I, also, do not punish. And find the need to modify behavior in that way is non existent when I am sure to care for all the needs of my children.

On control, I spend a good deal of time teaching my children to control themselves instead.of being controlled by me. I do control their environment to allow for increasing lessons of maturity.
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#11 of 17 Old 04-14-2014, 06:32 PM
 
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So a little twist--- I think some children come into the world already hardwired to be more oppositional. It could be genetic, in that one parent already has this trait. Could be neurological, as with some kids that have legitimate ADHD and make negative choices before thinking it through.

 

I used to think as KSLaura said that " Controlling children is not necessary if there is a healthy, attached parent/child relationship with realistic expectations on each side. Children who grow up in this type of environment are generally eager to please and comply with gentle suggestions from parents and caregivers."------until I had a very challenging child who was that way by temperament. 

 

Some kids need things to be exceptionally clear--and this may take the form of clear rules with specific consequences. Other children do fine with negotiation. It is really important to know each child and what works with each child!


 
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#12 of 17 Old 04-16-2014, 07:17 PM
 
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This is a good thread, and good things to ponder.

I, also, do not punish. And find the need to modify behavior in that way is non existent when I am sure to care for all the needs of my children.

On control, I spend a good deal of time teaching my children to control themselves instead.of being controlled by me. I do control their environment to allow for increasing lessons of maturity.

This IS a good thread!  

 

I want to keep what Lauren said in mind because there really is a whole lot of truth in that. I've seen families sail by with 4 kids only to get hit by a 5th that just didn't fit with the program of the family and who was very difficult to handle. 

 

That said, my two (so far) are able to be disciplined by meeting their needs for the most part. I have punished but those were really more about low parental energy/resources/reserves and less about the kids' needs. 

 

A long while back the GD forum had a lot of parents who practiced a form on non-coersive discipline. I often found myself butting heads with that idea. Because I couldn't get around the idea that to live a fairly respectful and comfortable life where I lived some forms of parental control seem necessary to me. But, that was for the parent of a young child. I would say that my 12 year old and I have remarkably non-coersive relationship. But, I do expect that this will change a bit when she is a teen and wants to branch out in ways that make me uncomfortable. But, maybe not.  

 

My 3 year old and I also are pretty non-coercive. Yes, I do set our schedule but can manage to provide enough enjoyment for the day that she generally trusts me and goes with the flow. But, I do find myself saying "I'm not going to let you do that" from time to time but, again, it's not like she gets upset and I think she gets that I make a lot of sense sometimes (like today when I told her that I didn't want her to practice balancing on the full potty over the carpet).  

 

Back to Lauren's comment... 

 

I do think that if we're parenting to meet our kids needs (the whole point of the thing, IMO) that we may well find ourselves in a relationship situation where parental control or punishment may feel like it's meeting our kids needs best. And, if our kids know deep down inside that what we want most is for them to feel safe, that they will "let" us do these things and they won't internalize them in a negative way. 

 

It all comes down to intentions to me. 

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#13 of 17 Old 04-16-2014, 07:39 PM
 
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I do think that if we're parenting to meet our kids needs (the whole point of the thing, IMO) that we may well find ourselves in a relationship situation where parental control or punishment may feel like it's meeting our kids needs best. And, if our kids know deep down inside that what we want most is for them to feel safe, that they will "let" us do these things and they won't internalize them in a negative way. 

 

It all comes down to intentions to me. 

 

Yes! As long as we're respectful. Incidentally-- my child that needed exceptionally clear limits and rules, and whose temperament was very oppositional, and who challenged us in the most unimaginable ways possible, causing our parenting to stretch in ways that we never anticipated--- he turned 19 today!! And he is the sweetest loving dude I have ever met. He is polite and respectful and kind, and he just ran out the door shouting 'love you mom." And we used consequences and discipline with him (always gentle, mostly natural or logical consequences) because he needed to know where the buck stopped and where the limits were. Now he knows how to set limits himself; he has internalized them. Given too much freedom to make choices himself, I don't think he would have learned to do that. 

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#14 of 17 Old 04-16-2014, 07:41 PM
 
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Yes! As long as we're respectful. Incidentally-- my child that needed exceptionally clear limits and rules, and whose temperament was very oppositional, and who challenged us in the most unimaginable ways possible, causing our parenting to stretch in ways that we never anticipated--- he turned 19 today!! And he is the sweetest loving dude I have ever met. He is polite and respectful and kind, and he just ran out the door shouting 'love you mom." And we used consequences and discipline with him (always gentle, mostly natural or logical consequences) because he needed to know where the buck stopped and where the limits were. Now he knows how to set limits himself; he has internalized them. Given too much freedom to make choices himself, I don't think he would have learned to do that. 

Happy birthday to your boy!  Kudos to him for teaching you what he needed. :love

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#15 of 17 Old 04-18-2014, 09:08 PM
 
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Yes! As long as we're respectful. Incidentally-- my child that needed exceptionally clear limits and rules, and whose temperament was very oppositional, and who challenged us in the most unimaginable ways possible, causing our parenting to stretch in ways that we never anticipated--- he turned 19 today!! And he is the sweetest loving dude I have ever met. He is polite and respectful and kind, and he just ran out the door shouting 'love you mom." And we used consequences and discipline with him (always gentle, mostly natural or logical consequences) because he needed to know where the buck stopped and where the limits were. Now he knows how to set limits himself; he has internalized them. Given too much freedom to make choices himself, I don't think he would have learned to do that. 

 

PM'ed you.

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#16 of 17 Old 04-19-2014, 05:27 AM
 
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Happy birthday to your boy!  Kudos to him for teaching you what he needed. :love

 

 

I love how you said that (instead of saying we taught him)!  He did teach us so much. We had no idea when we set out on our parenting path that we would go where we went with this child, and we have all learned so much. 


 
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#17 of 17 Old 04-19-2014, 05:32 AM
 
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Just thought of something that highlights the differences between children and how they need to be parented-- recently my littlest asked for something that I didn't think was such a good idea. I think it was  a cupcake before dinner. She asked if she could have it, and I said I didn't think it was a good idea because dinner was soon. She said "well can I have it or not?" and I said "I've told you I don't think it is a good idea, but I'd like you to make your own choice." She elected not to have it (I had already decided I could live with her making the opposite choice and letting her experience natural consequences).  With this child I can do this. With another child in my family, I would have had to be clear and with no wiggle room, or it would have led to further behavior and testing that would have negatively affected our relationship. With that child I would have said "right after dinner you can have that cupcake." End of story. 


 
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