what is wrong with punishment and consequences, generic answers? - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-06-2005, 11:42 PM
 
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Why not punish? Because it's not helpful, IMO. It shames, embarasses, causes feelings of resentment & fear, and doesn't teach or help move things in a better direction. It sets up an adversarial situation that I don't want in my relationships with my children.

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Originally Posted by Dar
Why not punish? I think the better question is, why punish? Punishment doesn't teach, doesn't resolve things long-term, leads to resentment of the punisher, demonstrates that big people can hurt little people, makes a child feel powerless and ashamed, makes a child sneakier ...
Yea, what she said.

"The true measure of a man is how he treats a man who can do him absolutely no good."
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Old 05-07-2005, 12:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kathipaul
Okay, I am going to ask nicely that everyone return to the original question that I posted: what is wrong with punishment and consequences. This thread has turn into a forum for justification of why one parenting style is better than the other. That is not what I intended and I would like to ask for everyone to stop badmouthing each other and stop defending your practices and just answer the question.
I'm really sorry (seriously, no sarcasm) you feel the thread was going that way. I didn't see any badmouthing...just disagreement. I did answer the question in an earlier post I thought.
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However, sometimes kids just do things to be mischevious or spiteful or because they are grumpy or angry about something.
Of course, and so do adults. It's part of being human. Sometimes we get frustrated & angry and then we act that way.
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I wish some of you would elaborate on what you think would happen to your children if they did something you consider wrong and you gave them a consequence or punishment.
I think they'd be offended, and pretty pissed off lol. They'd also be hurt, and maybe angry. None of that is my goal.
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You may not be practicing the punitive form of discipline, akin to what they do in the armed forces for example, but you are still practicing discipline.
OK, maybe if we can define discipline as gentle guidance through discussion, help, and modeling of desired behaviors then I can say we "discipline".

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And, I flat out don't believe anyone who says they don't have rules in their house. You just don't call them rules and you don't talk about them as rules. But, we all have practices and mores and values and traditions that we teach our children and expect them follow.
I'm not sure what you mean by rules then maybe. There is no "No ice cream before dinner" "No running in the house" "You must wear a coat when it rains" "No food anywhere but the table" type stuff at our house. Is that the kind of thing you mean? It just doesn't happen here.

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Old 05-07-2005, 12:07 AM
 
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I guess I am not sure how to answer this question. maybe give me an example...

I have a 16 yr old that i have never punished and he is what would be defined as a 'good kid'. He's never done anything that needed punishment, although he has aggravated me.

What sort of things are you looking for?

I've yelled at my kids because i have lost my head, but they survived, even though i was not at my best. They get that, they understand they are human and parents are human. We just allow for mistakes here. But I have never hit them or 'punished' them. What does punishment look like for you? I've told my kids 'I need some space to think about this" . I have not grounded kids or spanked them. I am an imperfect parent, for sure! But that is part of my charm.... :LOL Not.

Dh and I constantly share with our kids our thoughts about family. We talk with our kids, share our feelings and sometimes, me, esp, 'put my foot down'-- which is probably not what some might do. As in "Knock it off. You are being pains and I need you all to leave me in peace for a few minutes so I can think". That's when I am being honest, more than I am being a perfect MDC parent. :LOL

If you're hurting someone, I need to know why, but that is secondary to the hurting. Everyone in our family needs to feel safe to express emotions, ask questions, feel sad and feel happy etc. A family is a place where you can always feel safe. Dh and I encourage our children to express themselves, and if anyone might be inclined to giggle or tease at various revelations, we gently put the kabosh on that. "We are a family, and everyone in this family needs to feel safe. If anyone in this family has worries, they can come to this family and know they will be heard". This sounds odd, I suppose, but dh and I have said this to all of our kids, throughout the years. We are a team.

I just need examples. Lying? Stealing? Hurting a sib? What would send you over the edge that you need to punish? We have 'rules' but I can't think of any that are hard and fast or non negottiable , or that a rule would supersede the genuine needs of a child. We are pretty flexible here.

I draw the line with putdowns, hurting feelings or hitting. It's not an issue, the kids know we don't do that. I would make it a 'rule' if they did not 'get it'. But then i would seriously get to work figuring out why. If I could not figure out why, I'd be hyper-vigilant about shadowing the child who does hurt others. But i wouldn't punish. I'd follow, redirect and hold if i had to. Nobody gets hit here and we take care with our words as well.

If kids (toddlers are a little different--toddlers are about the movement of the body-- and not empathy--which comes a little alter. It's short lived, but trying. But for toddlers it's not a moral issue. it's an impulse control issue which is entirely different) feel safe, protected and heard, I think it's less likely that they will feel a need to act in ways that are not decent and kind.

As I said, little children are a different issue, of course, and that is more about impulse control and learning to be human. Not all wayward actions warrent punishment. Sometimes a "I know you did not mean to do that. I know you were feeling really sad and confused. I want you to know that Daddy and I are here for you. We are here to help you grow. That's our job. Little children sometimes need help, and we are here to help you. You're our girl". etc. A little 'Oh, sweetie, you are so sad, I'm so sorry, I know you did not mean for that to happen. I am here to help you learn about the world" goes a lot further than a punishment, ime. Be real. Talk less, hold more. Empathize.
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Old 05-07-2005, 12:59 AM - Thread Starter
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I am deleting all my posts.
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Old 05-07-2005, 01:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Old 05-07-2005, 01:19 AM
 
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Pardon my jumping in with both feet so late here, Kathy, but I wanted to comment on the situation with the dog's toys. (Yes, I know you didn't specifically ask for input on that situation, but it looks like it's a useful platform, so to speak, for other people to illustrate their different viewpoints. Please keep that in mind, because this isn't about criticism or putting you down, OK?)

I think that if Dd was 2, and she was pitching the dog's toys off the deck, I would assume she simply did not have the self-restraint yet to stop doing something so fascinating, and/or the empathy to really understand that the dog wants his toys, not having the toys makes the dog bored, etc, etc. I agree with Dar that the first thing I would do is somehow block off the deck so she *couldn't* pitch things over. (This would cut down on the whole Mama-blood-pressure aspect of the thing, too.) If she got past it and pitched something, I would say, "Oh no! We need to go get the toy so Fido doen't miss it!" and I'd take her down in the yard to get it and help her give it back to the dog.

I wouldn't feel that a 2-yo was capable of making the fairly sophisticated connections that might make my consequence logical to me. I don't personally think that a 2-yo would get the whole, "These toys don't belong to me. It's not OK for me to throw toys that don't belong to me off the deck. Whe the dog's toys are all gone he'll be bored and the responsible way for me to make restitution would be for me to donate one of *my* toys, since I was responsible for his tys being pitched over the deck." I wouldn't feel like she would get all that.

So this is a good reason why I feel like punishment isn't helpful -- in this case, although the consequence might seem logical to me, what the 2-yo would be left with is an arbitrary punishment: if she doesn't stop this fascinating activity I'll take away one of her toys. In that context, there isn't any lesson learned. It becomes a 1:1, "I obey or Mama does something bad" connection, which is not how I would want my children to learn.

ETA: so I guess what I'm longwindedly trying to say is, maybe most of the time when the threat of "consequences" or "punishment" is the only thing working to stop a child from doing something, it means that they aren't caable of understanding the good reasons not to do it, or of having the self-restraint not to do it, and what needs to be done is to back up and remove or change a situation they're not prepared for rather than control them with "consequences".
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Old 05-07-2005, 01:27 AM - Thread Starter
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All right, now I am pissed off and am going to sign off for a while. I am also deleting all my posts so that future readers don't feel the need to misinterpret my writing and pass on their own judgements.

I just don't understand why people feel the need to make comments and offer advice where it is unsolicited. I know that I am a new parent and learning and trying new things and I do not need to be reminded of my mistakes. I am painfully aware of them and always trying to do better, especially where dd is concerned. I am so pissed off at all of you right now that I am considering cancelling both my subscription to Mothering and my membership in MDC. How dare you judge me. One thing that I cannot stand about some people who live a "natural lifestyle" is when they pass judgement on others like they have all the answers and are living the best choices. I try to live a natural lifestyle but I don't condemn others who do not. I enter into honest discussions about choices but I would never offer them ways that they should be living their lives unless they specifically asked me to.

Why can't you all just answer the question and not comment on what you think I am doing wrong? What gives you the right to pass judgement on me? I asked what I thought was an interesting question but all I got in return was grief. I have learned a lot from MDC in my months of coming here but I have to say that one thing I really don't like is to read other mamas make comments that basically tell a mom she is doing something wrong. Especially when that kind of comment is unsolicited.

I believe that I know my child better than any of you and I am very aware of the effect my actions and choices have on her. She is living a life that is very gentle and based on respect and intelligence. You have no need to worry at all about her. I do not need any advice at this time. If I do, I specifically ask it.

You all come across like you know all the answers but I don't buy that you have perfect children. Perfect children, perfect parenting, perfect families - they don't exist. We all make choices and some are not as good as others. When you have walked a mile in my shoes, then you can judge me and offer unsolicited advice. You all claim to have made choices in your homes that seem to work really well for you. That is great. But, you might want to ask yourselves why you did not just answer the question I asked and why you felt the need to offer all this unsolicited advice. What need in you was passing on that advice filling?
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Old 05-07-2005, 10:35 AM
 
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I'm sorry you are so frustrated with this thread.

I hope you don’t mind my saying that I don’t see what you see here. I don’t see judgment and I don’t think anyone meant to say they have all the answers (although I can relate to why you might think that). I see a bunch of individuals talking about ideas. And, I see *many* posts by busy mamas who took time to answer you question.

But, even though I don’t understand, I am sorry that you weren’t satisfied by this conversation. I hope you find the information you want and that you stay with MDC.

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Old 05-07-2005, 12:16 PM
 
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Well, crud. I certainly was not judging you. I was asking. I was sharing my family 'stuff'. I'd go back and be more specific about the dog toys, but the post is gone and i don't remember all of it. I guess I would put the dog toys away for now, though.

I didn't think you are a bad mother, for gosh sakes. I thought you were asking for thoughts about punishment and I posted some of my thoughts. Maybe go back and reread what people wrote without putting a 'tone' on it. One can only add so many emoticons to try and convey 'lightness' , after all.
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Old 05-07-2005, 12:58 PM
 
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I have found this thread to be very thought-provoking and interesting.
And Piglet's post, as usual, was terrific.
But I have to say I don't think the purpose of this forum is served when so many people 'jump on' someone like that . It clearly only discourages them. It's easy to feel picked on, although I'm sure that's not what anyone intended.
It's not 'us against them' here, right?
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Old 05-07-2005, 01:12 PM
 
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I think all of us respond in various ways to 'misbehavior'. It takes a lot t get me angry. I can't take hurting people or being mean. I wish i had perfect kids...well not really, because then that would mean they were robots. Although, wouldn't it be nice to be able to take the batteries out of a busy toddler or a nagging teen? I think some of us have higher thresholds for normal 'misbehavior', which is really just impulse control issues for tiny children, which don't warrent punishment, just redirection. My own mother has said I am 'too patient', which she sees as a character flaw. So I don't talk to her about kid behavior.
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Old 05-07-2005, 01:37 PM
 
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The problem with asking "what is wrong" with something and it is something you believe in and do is that you are asking people to disagree with you and tell you why.

It's like me asking "what is wrong with formula" and I am a formula feeder(edited to add..I worded this wrong, I am not a formula feeder but was trying to make an analogy..sorry it wasn't good)...I am going to get some answers I don't like and some suggestions as to what I should have done instead. If I am not ready to hear the answers I should probably not ask the question.

I have been following this thread...it has been very helpful and thought provoking for me and I also thought it was pretty respectful. I didn't see you getting ganged up on at all but I am not sitting and reading from your perspective.

The biggest problem for me is not knowing why punishment is not the best way to go...I know that...the problem for me is knowing what to do instead. It's just so ingrained as a part of child raising that they must be punished and if you don't you are raising tyrants. This thread has certainly helped me with that.

Thanks everybody
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Old 05-07-2005, 02:00 PM
 
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Well, I too am very sad you feel that way Kathy. You asked a great question and stimulated a good discussion.

On this board, one of the great things is how we all learn from each others' experiences. You may not have felt your example needed any input or critique, and that's fine. But it does serve as a very useful and "real" experience that others may be able to learn from. Don't forget that for every post there are likely to be several lurking. While book recommendations and philosophical discussions can be helpful, it is truly the real life examples that teach us the most. You just happened to provide an excellent example for expounding on the practice of non-punishment. I think for those who come here questioning, these are the discussions that are clearest to understand, those that centre around a specific situation that we can all relate to. I also find that laying out how I may have handled a given situation helps give *me* clarity of mind. In effect, by doing so the poster helps themselves as they have to think about it in more detail when typing it out, so it can have nothing to do with you as a parent and everything to do with the poster themselves. Teaching and learning intertwined, y'know? I truly doubt anyone was trying to criticize you, but I'm very sorry you felt that way.

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Old 05-07-2005, 02:18 PM
 
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I was lurking and subscribed to the post. I too am sad that Kathy is upset. I was really enjoying the discussion and learning.
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Old 05-07-2005, 02:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allgirls
The problem with asking "what is wrong" with something and it is something you believe in and do is that you are asking people to disagree with you and tell you why...
If I am not ready to hear the answers I should probably not ask the question.
I agree. Why ask if you don't really want to know what other people think?
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I have been following this thread...it has been very helpful and thought provoking for me and I also thought it was pretty respectful. I didn't see you getting ganged up on at all but I am not sitting and reading from your perspective.
I've also really enjoyed this thread, and I am very sorry that Kathi is angry. It was never my goal to be rude, and I was not angry when posting. Just sharing my point of view. I thought we'd managed to do a good job keeping things mellow thus far. Hope you are feeling better soon Kathi

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Old 05-07-2005, 03:14 PM
 
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Piglet wrote:

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I guess, finally, the reason why I think punishment and consequences are "wrong" is because they are simply unnecessary. It very much IS possible to raise wonderful, self-disciplined, self-motivated children without having to exert parental power in this manner.
It's comforting to read that. Having long-term goals is great but effects not always immediately apparent.. especially with your first child and no previous experience with children (or children who have never experienced punishment/rewards/time-outs). I don't know any parent who parents in the same way I do and I tend to worry.. a lot.

Kathy, I'm sorry you feel this way. I didn't get any negative vibe from the posts. I thought they were all just sharing their experiences and opinions.

Cheers,
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Old 05-07-2005, 03:30 PM
 
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Hiya- I've been lurking for a few pages and I'm really sad that this thread turned sour for you, Kathi.

If it makes you feel better, I used punishments/consequences when I first started dealing with discipline stuff because that's what I needed at the time and it was helpful for me in the short run. It didn't work for me in the long run, so I started changing how I dealt with things. But i can see how some parents feel they need them some of the time.

Now I don't really beleive in punishments, but we do have rules and I try to guide a lot. It's a fine line when you pick your kid up and drag them out of a situation screaming and go home. Is that a punishment? a consequence? or just a reasonable adult response to a situation where a kid was unable to behave approprately? It could be any of the above depending on how the adult/child views it, the words that are said, etc.

Nomatter how GD we are or how little we beleive in punishment, I think we all occasionally force our kids into shoes, or carry them out of a room not to return, or say we won't do something till they eat more sandwich, or raise our voices when we loose our temper. We're all human and kids evoke similar feelings in all of us.

To some extent it's semantics, and a lot has to do with kid's perception. My dd often wrongly assumes I'm angry when I say and enforce a "no." She'll ask later why I got angry even though generally I wasn't angry. She probably saw the interaction as punishing even though I don't mean it that way. So I can say *I* don't beleive in punishment, but apparently my kid has a different opinion. :

Anyway- I'm sorry if you felt attacked.
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Old 05-07-2005, 03:42 PM
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I am really sorry the orignal poster felt offended, however, I feel deleting all the posts was a *tad* immature--the equivalent of taking your ball and going home. I say that, because I think people just joining the thread should have the oppurtunity to know what the OP actually SAID!!

I didn't feel anyone was attacking the OP at all, and again, maybe because I wasn't in the situation personally...but people have to understand, as another poster touched on...when someone begins a thread with a slightly adversarial tone, it immediately creates an environment where some responding posters may feel as if they have to defend their choices...

I can't directly quote the OP because the post has been deleted *sigh* but I do recall something along the lines of (paraphrasing) "Why is punishing bad? If my child makes a mess, they have to clean it up...if my child hits me, I walk away or they get time out" etc ....now, I am paraphrasing, those ARE NOT the exact examples given...but I recall they were along those lines...

What I saw in response to that, were mamas, 99% of them, being very supportive, offering suggestions, personal experience from their own lives, tips that have worked for them, specific reasons why they don't use punishments (which is what the OP was asking in the first place!!)...etc... I didn't really see any judgement of the OP or her worth as a parent etc...only maybe people putting their own words to the things she described ---for example, some posters said that some of her examples sounded like natural or logical consequences which are a bit different than punishment etc...

Anway, I am sorry the posts were deleted and that the poster felt so attacked. I was enjoying this thread a lot...but at the same time... it does crank me a bit when someone takes their ball and goes home because they don't like what is being said...even though they specifically asked for advice/explanations etc...

It just seems like a knee jerk reaction.
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Old 05-07-2005, 03:44 PM
 
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I agree. I do not see anyone attacking the op as a parent or otherwise. I just saw people answering the op's questions.

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Old 05-07-2005, 04:03 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kathipaul

I just don't understand why people feel the need to make comments and offer advice where it is unsolicited.

I think because it's an online community, and that's part of posting. I've been reading this, and certianly saw that people view things differently, but I did not see anyone attacking anyone. I know myself, I am a very sensitive person, and can interpret things people say to me in a way they probably didn't mean, so maybe that has happened here.

I'm glad I did read this though, as I really like Unschoolnma's philosophy and am hoping to learn more
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Old 05-07-2005, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by captain crunchy
Anway, I am sorry the posts were deleted and that the poster felt so attacked. I was enjoying this thread a lot...but at the same time... it does crank me a bit when someone takes their ball and goes home because they don't like what is being said...even though they specifically asked for advice/explanations etc...
Yeah, what she said.

In an online forum, your words are all you have. If you're not willing to take responsibility for them, don't post them. IMO.

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Old 05-07-2005, 04:25 PM
 
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Yeah. This is the first foruma I have visited where you could even edit your posts. It forces you to own your words.

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Old 05-07-2005, 04:28 PM
 
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I agree!

And dismissing all the people who took the time to answer the question sucks, IMO. But whatever...good thread for some of us, I guess.
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Old 05-07-2005, 05:03 PM
 
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I am really sorry the orignal poster felt offended, however, I feel deleting all the posts was a *tad* immature--the equivalent of taking your ball and going home. I say that, because I think people just joining the thread should have the oppurtunity to know what the OP actually SAID!!
yeah that.

I don't understand, and maybe the OP can clear this up for me, why she doesn't think anyone answered her question. That's really all I saw people doing here.
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Old 05-07-2005, 05:07 PM
 
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I've been lurking on this thread since the beginning.


I didn't see any attacking going on. I was really enjoying the discussion. I'm sorry the original question got deleted. Seems a little immature to me too. As someone who is hypersensitive and apt to getting her feelings hurt easily, I understand how the OP may have felt hurt. But we're all suffering from a good discussion gone completely haywire now.

It's too bad. I was learning a lot from this thread. My girls are only 19 months old & we haven't been faced with discipline issues yet. I was getting a lot of good ideas here.
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Old 05-07-2005, 05:26 PM
 
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It makes me unhappy to see the word 'immature' flaunted around like that.
I consider it name-calling, and though I wish the posts hadn't been deleted, everyone chiming in to say 'How immature' is kind of well....I would say 'immature' but if I said that than I would be 'immature' too, wouldn't I???


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Old 05-07-2005, 05:31 PM
 
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I think calling an action immature is different than calling a person immature. The latter would be namecalling. I wasn't calling the OP immature, but I think what she did was a tad....well, you get the idea.

Substitute any other word you like in there, Snowy Owl. But deleted her posts ruined a very good discussion, IMO.
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Old 05-07-2005, 05:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Zipporah
Another example: on another thread we were discussing whether it was ever appropriate to swat your child's arm to prevent them from hurting themselves. One mama said that if her child reached out to touch a hot stove, she would not swat his arm b/c the natural consequences of touching a hot stove is getting burnt. Once again, this is creating an artificial environment for the child in which he operates in a vacuum. The natural consequence of reaching out to touch a hot stove is getting burnt, yes, unless there is a caring person around to stop you.

Snce this was me, and you are explaining my POV wrong, I just want to correct it.

I intervene with a word (out key word, "caliente" which my son now says when he is around something hot) and my stopping my son from doing something like touching the hot stove. I definitely do not hit him (or "swat" him). That was were we differed.

Quote:
swat
tr.v. swat·ted, swat·ting, swats
To deal a sharp blow to; slap.
n.
A sharp blow; a slap.
How is this any different from hitting a child?


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Old 05-07-2005, 05:58 PM
 
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I think Kathi wants people to answer the question in the title and maybe that's why she feels her posts in this thread are irrelevant. :/
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Old 05-07-2005, 06:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kavamamakava
I think Kathi wants people to answer the question in the title and maybe that's why she feels her posts in this thread are irrelevant. :/
YES!!! I've been lurking and sending pms but I have to say YES that is exactly how I feel. I never asked for any specific info related to my life. I never said I was pro punishment and consequences. I am actually opposed to punishments and have only experimented with consequences once. I am still on the fence on that one. I only wanted generic answers to what is wrong with punishment and consequences not what is wrong with my parenting. I still do not understand how it got popular to critique me. Why did that even start? I asked repeatedly for posters to get back to the original question and was ignored.
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