There’s been many debates over the years on the proper way to discipline children. Everyone has their own opinions, and everyone thinks that they are right. How many times have you been out to eat and you saw a child acting out? You sit there and think to yourself about what horrible parents he/she must have. Maybe you’ve been in a store and seen (what looks like) a parentless child running down the aisle and knocking things off the shelf. Perhaps you went to the movies recently and somebody has let their child run up and down the stairs the whole movie.
As parents, we have a responsibility to our children and to society to teach them how to behave. The issue at hand is how do we do that? What is now socially acceptable? It seems to me the older you are, then the worst you had it when you were a kid. I have only been on this earth for 31 years, and I can only speak on my behalf. However, I’ll tell you this much: I got spanked, I got grounded, toys taken away, stood in the corner, extra chores, etc. You know what though? I still acted out.
Now that I’m older, I realize my mom had a sense of humor even when she was about to spank us. She had a wooden paddle she used to spank us. On one side she had the words “Board of Education,” and on the other side was “The Attitude Adjuster.” Depending on if I needed to learn a lesson from what I had just done wrong, or if I just had a stank attitude that day determined on what side landed on my backside.
My dad was (and still is) quite a bit bigger than me. Although he usually left the spankings up to my mom, on occasion, he would give a lending hand. By lending a hand, I meant that literally. His hands are huge compared to mine! I remember he would stand there, jut out his knee a little bit and tell me to come here. Of course I obliged, and regretted every time I did.
My mom’s spankings weren’t that bad. Of course they hurt, but at the same time, mostly I thought they were funny. It was funny to me as a kid to see an adult that mad. I know my parents love(d) me and I’m not mad at them for spanking me. However, I am still mad about them taking away my bike-riding privileges, my Super Nintendo, and my TV.
Sometimes my mom would have me stand up in the corner. If I turned around, she would start my time over again. I was never a fan of this method of punishment, but I really didn’t mind it that much either. Extra chores were never too big of a deal to me. In fact, I kind of liked doing them as a kid. It’s the whole “doing chores as an adult” that is becoming more and more difficult. Maybe parents like that form of punishment because they don’t want to do the dishes that night…
In today’s society, it is getting harder for parents to discipline our children with spanking. If you spank your child out in public, you stand a chance of having the police being called. Schools talk to our children about what is acceptable in their eyes, and kids jump at the chance to “not have to be spanked” anymore. I hate to think of the amount of parents who have been accused of abusing their child, when in their eyes (and possibly quite a few others), they were just trying to discipline their kid.
I have to admit, it’s a scary thought to have your child threaten you with going to school and telling the teacher your parents beat you the night before, and that’s why they’re hanging off the edge of their chair on that one side. I believe in spankings. On more than a couple of occasions, my oldest children have been spanked. I’m curious on the cut-off age of a good spanking though. I know I received my last one while I was in high school. If it was still up to my parents , I would have probably received at least one or two a year since graduating high school.
I’m starting to lean towards a less aggressive method to discipline them. It’s not always the popular choice in my household, but it is the choice that is winning right now. In return, I feel as if I’m not doing something right.
For instance, homework is something most children either don’t mind, or they hate it. I think we can agree there may be a very small percentage that actually “love” it. So, when our child comes home and you tell them to get started on their homework, you have this expectation that they will do it. Sometimes, we parents get lazy and trust them. Sometimes we see them doing it so we assume they’ve done it correctly.
One of my daughters a couple of weeks ago said she did her homework and I believed her. Right before she went to bed, I decided to glance at it. It was a math assignment, and rather than ask for help, she wrote “I don’t know” on one of the answers. That got my attention, so I went through every single problem with her and made sure she did all of them right.
My kids have homework every night at their school. Part of it is reading a set amount of minutes each night, the other part is math each night. The oldest sometimes brings home assignments she didn’t finish in class. Imagine my surprise the other night when one of them decided she didn’t have to do homework that day. She flat-out refused! She wanted to play on the computer instead (and according to her she could just do all her homework on there). So, imagine her surprise when I grounded her from it instead. After learning she would have no access to a computer that night is when the name-calling began.
Here’s the part I was talking about in the beginning…when you see or hear a child act out in front of her to their parents—and then you say to yourself “Oh #$%% No!” Honestly though, that’s what people think. They think that their child would never be able to call them a name, never say they hate them, and then say something like “what are you going to do about it?” In reality though, I think we can all think back in our heads to at least one time when we said something like that to one of our parents. What happened then? Did we get our mouths washed out with soap? Is that something that is OK to do still? Is there a list of things I can download from the city’s website that tells me what I can and what I cannot do to discipline my own kids? Is there a list of things we can do, at what ages we can start, and what ages we have to stop doing them to discipline them?
I am speaking as a dad who cares. I want my children to obey their parents, do as they’re told, act responsibly, and generally behave on a regular basis. I want them to understand that they are essentially responsible for themselves and their actions, and that they are an extension of their parents. We don’t allow them to do what they want all the time. They don’t have every toy in the world, nor will they ever.
By the end of that evening, I had resorted to acting like she was a toddler throwing a fit. I essentially just ignored her and then watched her bring out a book and read it to her baby sister. As she did that I made a list of addition and subtraction questions and set it to the side. After the babies went to bed I asked her to sit next to me so we could go over the math problems. She answered every one of them correctly.
Imagine my excitement when the next afternoon I received an email from her teacher congratulating her on her addition test she just took. Apparently, my little “act like she’s a toddler throwing a temper tantrum and ignore her” method worked. He informed me that she had already surpassed their goal for math this year, and to keep up the good work! I just don’t want to be called a stupid punk by my kid again…