Thursday, June 14, 2007
Positive Discipline: No spanking  

If you are a parent, you owe it to yourself to look into the whole concept of positive discipline. The ideas put forth by Dr. Jane Nelsen and others are fairly simple, but, depending on how you were raised, may require you to think about things completely differently than you have.

The basic premise is that it is unnecessary to use strictly punitive methods to discipline children. As it is often stated in the Positive Discipline books, why is it a given that you have to make children feel badly in order to teach them how to behave. Translated into practical terms, parents are discouraged from ever using spanking or any type of hitting to punish children.

Now this flies in the face of many people's assumptions that spanking is quite alright. After all, spanking was the discipline method of many people's parents and they turned out okay. Dr. Nelsen replies:
He: There are times when it is necessary to spank my children to teach them important lessons. For example, I spank my two-year-old to teach her not to run into the street.
She: After you have spanked your two-year-old to teach her not to run in the street, will you let her play unsupervised by a busy street?
He: Well, no.
She: Why not? If the spanking teaches her not to run into the street, why can't she play unsupervised by the street? How many times would you need to spank her before you would feel she has learned the lesson well enough?
He: Well, I wouldn't let her play unsupervised near a busy street until she was six or seven years old.
She: I rest my case. Parents have the responsibility to supervise young children in dangerous situations until children are old enough to handle that situation. All the spanking in the world won't teach a child until he or she is developmentally ready. Meanwhile you can gently teach. When you take your children to the park, invite them to look up the street and down the street to see if cars are coming and tell you when it is safe to cross the street. Still, still you won't let them go to the park alone until they are six or seven.
Studies show that approximately 85 percent of all parents of children under twelve years old resort to spanking when frustrated, yet only 8 to 10 percent believe that it is dignified or effective. Sixty-five percent say that they would prefer to teach through positive methods to improve behavior, but they don't know how. This book shows you how.

A response to the argument that adults who were spanked by their parents turned out okay can be found here. The basic idea is that although a lesson may have been taught and even caught when punitive means were used, it might not have been the best lesson for the child.

For our part, we have never spanked our daughter, and we have no intention of ever doing so. The key for us is to remain firm but kind while keeping in mind that the goal of discipline is to teach our daughter to become the respectful, responsible adult we want her to become. We want her to want to be virtuous. We do not want her to want to be good because she fears the wrath of her parents (or God) if she does not behave. This goes beyond getting her to mind us. That can be accomplished via shaming types of punishment, but in the long run, it will only cause problems. Finally, there are alternative methods for teaching her to behave even in the midst of her misbehavior. For me, it requires looking at things from a different perspective than how I was raised. Shaming and strictly punitive methods were constantly used. Although I turned out okay, there are many problems I have carried with me into adulthood that I have no desire to pass on to my daughter.

I have only touched briefly on this philosophy of raising children. There is much more I could mention. For more information, check out Jane Nelsen's blog and the Positive Discipline Web site.


Posted by David at 12:58 AM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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