Sunday, December 24, 2006

They're No Angels, but They're Close Enough for Me

Although I won’t say we’ve got perfect little angels, we often get comments about how well behaved our kids are; and I have to agree, they are among the best behaved kids of their age I know of.

In the past year we’ve had maybe one screaming fit and tantrum from Shaila outside the house, nothing like that from Rosie; and saying that with a 2-3 year old is a pretty impressive feat. The kids are obedient to us; respectful to us, and to family, friends and strangers; and of course very loving; in public or at home.

Yes, of course they break the rules, every child does; but in doing so they are far nicer, more respectful, quieter etc.. than the run of the mill American parent has come to expect from their young children.

Honestly, I don't understand why so many parents tolerate the behaviors that they do. Screaming, throwing fits, poking, throwing things, speaking inappropriately in public, poking into other peoples business, hitting and fighting... These are all behaviors that 30 years ago would have exiled a child from public, and put them on a restrictive punishment; but for some reason parents today don't seem to see such rudeness and indiscipline as unacceptable.

Actually, the sheer gall of most parents our age appals me. They let their children throw fits and scream and wail in public; committing the most gross abuses against public decency and civility; and yet they expect all around them to give them special clearance and dispensation, because of their little monsters.

I don't think so.

A poorly behaved child, unless they are mentally ill, is nothing more than an indication of a poor parent. I always say, expect mediocrity and that is surely all you will recieve; expect excellence and you may just get it. Well, parents who expect nothing but bad behavoir, and tolerate it; will recieve nothing but bad behvavior and disrespect from their children; and neither will the world around them. A badly behaved child is far more likely to be a badly behaved teen, and a badly behaved adult; who we call either louts, or criminals depending on the severeity of their poor behavior.

So we simply do not accept it, and therefore we do not have poorly behaved children.

People ask us how we do it, and it’s simple. Love, Discipline, Respect, and IRON CLAD rules and boundaries.

We instill the values in our children, of respect, discipline, good behavior, and kindness; in everything we do, and in every lesson we give. We also teach them to expect if from others.

We give them firm boundaries, and clearly understood rules; because kids NEED those things. No, you shouldn't be too restrictive, but a kid should always know where they standl and where they stand should always be clear and consistent, with clear and consistent results and consequences for every action.

If the kids break the rules, they get punished. The rules are flexible and reasonable, but if they break the rules in a way that isn’t justified, it absolutely does not matter what arguments they make, how they feel, what they say, they get punished. If they do it again their punishment escalates.

We treat them absolutely fairly, we always explain every punishment, and why they are getting it; and this one amazes folks: After they are punished, they always thank us and tell us how much they love us.

No, we don’t make them thank us, they thank us because they understand we do it because it’s the right thing, and because we love them.

We don't negotiate with our kids, we don't bribe them, and we don't beg them to obey us. We make it very clear and direct, "you must do what we say, or you will be punished", and in the main they do it. The biggest problem we have is that they frequently don't want to clean up after themselves (something I'd call a bit of a universal issue).

Our punishments aren't harsh. It starts with being sent to their rooms for a short time and not being allowed to do whatever it is they wanted to do, then it’s sent to their rooms for half a day, then its no lunch or supper, and finally our most severe punishment, which we’ve probably had to use perhpas a dozen times this past year.

The most severe punishment we ever give is a light spanking; always accompanied by a trip straight to bed. By light I mean not enough force to make their butts red. If they resist the spanking, they get more spanks. If they scream too much about it before hand, or try to run away, or try to block the spanking, they get more spanks. Every step of the way we calmly explain to them why they are bing spanked, why they are gettign more spankings, and how "it doesnt matter that you don't WANT a spanking, you've got to be punished. If you don't want to be spanked, don't do make us spank you".

After the spanking, the girls always do the same thing, they grab and hug us, and tell us they're sorry and how much they love us; because they know they did wrong, they know they need to be punished, and they accept it.

Some folks say spanking isn't effective, or it's cruel, or kids don't understand why you're doing it, or it's just causing useless pain.


The point of spanking isn’t to cause a lot of physical pain, it’s to physically reinforce the emotional consequences of misbehavior. The physical pain they recieve is nothing compared to the normal scrapes and bumps of their days; it’s the EMOTIONAL pain caused by the realization that they have made someone they love, and who loves them, hurt them; which is the real effect of the punishment.

That emotional pain is a far more effective reinforcement against bad behavior than any physical pain. Physical pain can be endured. Kids can get used to being spanked, and then where are you? You can escalate the force, but at that point, what’s the point? You’ve lost their respect and their sense of consequence and proportion, and you are now falling back on fear.

Your children should never truly fear you, or fear your punishment, in a physical sense. Terror of punishment is a far less effective, and far more negative motivator, than the prospect of the loss of respect and disappointment of a parent.

Those who fear punishment will only do the minimum necessary to avoid it. Those who wish to avoid dissapointing or losing the respect of the ones they respect or love, on the other hand; will generally do their best to earn or keep the respect of those people.