PARENTING PRACTICE


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Physical Discipline

Physical discipline is a hot issue to tackle. I am saddened by reports of infants and young children who have been ruthlessly, and physically abused by some brainless adult. I stand strongly against abuse and the torturing of any helpless and innocent human being. I also stand strongly for discipline that causes no physical harm but which generates a knowledge of right and wrong and a respect for others and their property.

We have raised a generation of children who are now becoming the management personnel of our businesses. The CEOs of large companies came through school in the years following the decision to remove the Bible and its principles from the public schools. Through a complete study of history you will find that our American system was established on these principles. The system has worked because those who have taken part in the system had at least a minimal knowledge of right and wrong and some respect for others and their property.

Without this knowledge at hand our leaders can do nothing but fail in the present system of business and government. We must either change the system or begin training our young people the way we once did.

For learning to take place there must be discipline. The word, disciple, comes from the same root word. Disciples are prepared for their duties through the process of strict discipline. Here is what I often hear between a parent and their child:
Mamma, when are we going to get to go to the park?

We aren't going to go to the park now.

Why, Mamma, you promised.

I know I promised but you were bad at the store so I changed my mind.

But, Mamma, you promised.
Maybe it isn't a park. Maybe it's a gift, or just something the child really wanted to do. The parent has promised. And, now the parent is breaking that promise as a form of punishment because the child misbehaved. I call this cruel punishment. It is a sad form of psychological punishment that breaks the hearts of children every day.

Remember how children like to imitate? A child living with this kind of punishment will never learn to keep a promise because they have no concept of what that would mean. After all, mom and dad break promises all the time.

But the most sad part of this kind of punishment is the let-down the poor child feels when something he or she has been waiting for is removed from their hopes and dreams.

So, how should physical discipline be administered? The answer is, in love. Really loving someone is not easy. Selfishly loving someone is a breeze. When you really love someone you must exercise self-sacrifice. You must give up things you would rather not give up. If you have not read the poem in the section on toddlers, you should go read it now. Then you will understand what follows here.

Here is a pretty typical situation between a parent and a child:
Billy, please stop doing that.

Billy, if you don't stop I'll paddle you.

Billy!

One, two, three, Billy I told you to stop.

(About now the parent is feeling the effects of having their authority challenged. Whenever we have our authority challenged it causes some amount of frustration within us. When we are frustrated we don't always exercise patience and wisdom.)

Billy if you don't stop I'm really going to paddle you.
Sooner or later this parent is going to do what they have been threatening to do - paddle the child. The sad part is this: When they paddle the child they will not do so in love. They will do so out of frustration and anger. Do you suppose the child will be able to feel that anger? If you answered, "Yes," you are correct.

Our children can sense our feelings much more than we realize. Why do you suppose they can push and push until the parent is at the edge, and then, finally, give in. They know how to sense our feelings. They know when we are doing something out of frustration as well as when we are doing something out of love.

How do children reason? Well, they don't, much. Have you ever noticed how a young child reacts to the words, "Don't touch, that's hot." Very few children will stop and think to themselves, "Hot. What ever that means, I'm not supposed to touch it." Most children will think to themselves, "What is hot? WHY am I not supposed to touch that? I don't understand."

In most cases a child will even try reaching out and touching whatever they were told not to touch. When the child does touch the object he or she feels the pain of a burning sensation and draws back. After that the child will be afraid to touch the object again because of the pain inflicted.

You see, young toddlers are not able to do much reasoning. They can barely put words together to make up a sentence. Logic and reasoning are too difficult for them. So, if you say something like, "If you will do as you are told, I will reward you with a toy." don't expect fantastic results. Trying to make a deal with a young child is about like trying to convince a hungry lion not to eat you. The lion and the child will both cheat.

So how do you manage the behavior or your child if you cannot use reasoning? Remember the example of the hot object. A child learns not to touch that object because of an unpleasant experience. The bottom line is: The child develops a respectful fear of the object. Once that impression is established, you never need to repeat the instructions again. The child knows all he or she needs to know.

To manage the behavior of your child you need to apply the same kind of learning experience. That's where discipline enters the scene. Proper discipline, applied with tender love, will cause the child to develop a respectful fear of your authority. I'm not talking about a frightful fear. Unfortunately, that's what many parents believe they need to do, and, that's all wrong. Your child should never be afraid of your presence. That kind of fear develops over a period of time where the parent applies physical discipline without love.

A respectful fear is a kind of fear that a child has when he or she feels less than proud of themselves after they know they have let you down. That's why it is important to talk with the child following physical discipline.

As an example: Suppose the child has a habit of throwing objects in the house whenever he or she becomes angry. The first time it occurs should be the time it is addressed. You should apply some mild physical discipline to cause the child to associate throwing objects with an unpleasant feeling. Then, immediately hold the child on your lap and talk about why we don't throw objects when we are angry. You can even explain that it is OK to get angry, but cover the subject verbally so the child feels loved and cared for.

Through the use of discipline, rather than logic, the child learns to distinguish between what is right, and OK, and what is wrong, and brings about unpleasantness. The child doesn't think these things through. He or she develops a respect for what happens when they have done the wrong thing.

Here is how I trained my children. It is not cruel. In fact, it turns out to be the opposite of cruelty: When I told my child to stop doing something that was wrong, I made sure I spoke clearly and looked them in the eye. I also made sure they knew they would be disciplined if they continued. Then, if they did continue, I applied the discipline, which was usually a spanking. I didn't wait and wait until I was frustrated. I applied the discipline while I was still out of the mood to paddle. I didn't really want to paddle at that point because I wasn't angry and frustrated. But, by turning the child over my knee and applying the paddle to their behind, I was still in a loving mood and they could detect that.

I had a standard method of discipline. When it was time for a paddling, they were turned over my knee. If they had heavy trousers on, the trousers were lowered so there would be no padding. I had a paddle which was made of wood and was harmless, but, which had a sting that would be remembered. I always applied 14 swats with the paddle. Why 14? I wanted the child to get the feeling that this was never going to come to an end.

Keep in mind that all the time I was consistently applying this discipline I was doing it while I didn't really want to do it. So, when the spanking was over, we pulled up the trousers and I would set the child on my lap and hug them while they gradually stopped their crying. Then we would quietly talk about the whole thing and come to a loving understanding of why everything went the way it did. Believe it or not, my children received very few spankings. They learned at a young age to respect the word of me and my wife.

I feel so sorry for both parent and child in situations where I see a parent dragging their child through the store, away from the toy section, while the child is kicking and screaming and the parent is exasperated as to what they should do about it. I want to hug the parent and the child both because I know they both must be feeling miserable.