And yet, I am seeing what are touted as positive disciplinary tactics that are at least bizarre, certainly inappropriate and definitely have little to do with actual child discipline.
The goal of child discipline is to teach, train and guide our children so that they learn right from wrong, they learn the reasons for rules and they need to deal with natural or logical consequences when they choose to misbehave.
Over the past two years there have been stories on the internet about parents who have shamed their children by forcing them to hold signs in public which outlined their transgressions, such as I am a bully or I have a bad attitude.
A recent story involves a barber in Snellville, Georgia who will give your child an embarrassing hair cut. It’s called the ‘Benjamin Button Special’ and gives the child an old man look. He cuts the hair with a bald spot on top and low cut on the sides. The child will carry this cut until it grows back and is likely to become a victim of bullying or at least some serious teasing at school.
Recently we all read that Pope Francis suggested, “It’s okay to spank your children to discipline them – as long as their dignity is maintained”.
Finally I received a newsletter with the title How to Make Discipline Fun and Bonding. The author, Parenting Coach, Lisa Bunnage, suggested that discipline should be fun. She says, “I used to looooooove disciplining my kids as I would usually get a back massage, makeover, manicure or whatever. I always gave them an option though, e.g., ‘You can either have no TV tonight or give me a 30 minute spa treatment. Your choice’.”
Her style was to simply create list of punishments which the specific child would not enjoy but which had no connection to the actual misbehavior. There were two sides to her approach. When she does something wrong she has to take the kids to someplace that they love and she hates.
So what are kids learning from these unique and bizarre techniques? The makeover, spa treatment is so strange it’s hard to discuss. In this case the focus is on the parent and her idea of fun and not on the teaching of the child. It simply makes no sense.
Shaming kids does not teach them about their behaviors. They may decide not to misbehave again but their motivation comes from humiliation, embarrassment and likely a feeling worthlessness.
They do not learn how to change their behavior, why their actions were inappropriate and there is no move to direct accountability. When we set our child up to be humiliated, particularly in public and possibly internationally if the tactic is put on-line, the relationship between parent and child can be irretrievably injured.
What about the question of dignity and spanking? How can anyone think that having someone pull your pants down and have you lean over while they hit your bare bottom is dignified? It defies belief.
If we want to raise our children to be self-disciplined young men and women we need to teach them right from wrong, set reasonable limits and expectations and have them take responsibility for their actions.
A Great E-Parenting Mini-Guide
Sarah is shy, Jared is bossy and Pat is Easy-Going. What do we need to know about different temperaments?
One thing we learn about kids is that every child is unique and different. My mini guide e-book, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments addresses some of the temperaments we see in our kids.
I looked at my two children who are as different as night and day. Then I consider my siblings and we are a textbook example of different.
But, now I have three grandchildren, all the same age and the differences from their births has been striking.
The result is the e-parenting mini guide, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments. The guide is available on my website.
How Can I Bring Kathy to My Community?
I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.
And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
These make up the framework of any resources that will come from Parenting Today. These four pillars are the essential ingredients for raising healthy children who will develop into capable young men and women.