Monday, November 7, 2011

Corporal Punishment

Go read this article (go ahead, I'll wait):

Done? Ready to puke? Me too.

For starters I would like to note that biblical scholars have claimed that, "spare the rod, spoil the child" is actually a mistranslation (I apologize for not finding the reference perhaps if I'm not so lazy in the future I'll dig it up). The correct translation is actually "Spare the crook, spoil the child". Now if you know anything about animal husbandry - this makes LIGHT YEARS more sense.

The allegory in use is herding sheep. Now if you've ever worked with sheep you know a rod does exactly NO good whatsoever. Why? B/c if you hit a sheep on the head they might wonder what that fly was bugging them. Keep in mind that sheep regularly run at each other full tilt boogie and ram their heads together. Hitting a sheep in the head accomplishes NOTHING. Hitting a sheep anywhere else is futile as well since they're running around with a good 6 inches of wool padding. You're not going to get their attention, let a lone bring them in line that way.

This is why ever shepherd ever depicted has been drawn carrying a shepherds crook. A big long stick with a big hook on the end. How does one use a crook? Sheep have a natural herd tendency (as do people) and so the idea is that you hold on to the straight end and when one of the sheep starts to wander off you just reach out, hook it around the head w/ the crook and guide it back in line with the rest of the flock. 99 times out of 100 they'll then stay in line.

Did you hear what I just said? Instead of beating a child into submission, you reach out, grab them and guide them back to the path they should go.

Ponder THAT for a minute.

Now I'm not one to say that you should never, ever under any circumstances strike a child. However I will say that I think by far the gross majority of the time, theres a better way to parent. At the risk of sounding horribly cliche I was spanked as a child and I think I turned out okay. But I will say that if my mother spanked you, which was very rare, it was almost without exception because you did something dangerous. Things like running out in the street, hiding from Mom in the store, trying to shove stuff in an electrical outlet AFTER she told you repeatedly not to, would earn you a spanking. And you better believe that it was a shock and awe experience. I knew she was SERIOUS because that never happened.

Now according to the Gospel of Ami - Thou shalt NEVER, EVER strike a child with anything other than your hand, and I'm talking open palm, smacked with the flat of your hand. Why? B/c your parents should never hurt you. I know from being a stupid kid that if you slap somebody or something with your palm - it HURTS. Man that stings! You're wayyyy less likely to make somebody else hurt when its hurting you back. Using an object creates a level of separation. You can do damage using something to hit and not feel a thing yourself. That is NOT okay. I don't think you should ever, ever, ever, leave a mark on a child. Never. If you leave a mark you've officially gone too far.

Now there are some times when I think striking a child is just dumb. And no matter how much I thought about it the first time my toddler reached out and smacked me, intentionally, I will admit that my gut reaction was to reach out and smack him right back and go, "No hit!". At which point I did a total face palm over the stupidity of that logic. lol

Since then, I have now trained myself that if Caleb hits me, my reaction is to grab his little wrist and I get right up in his face and in my mean voice I say, "No HIT! That is not nice!" and if he tries again he gets a time out. He very rarely hits now.

I like this system and it makes good sense to me b/c I once read that what you're really teaching them in your reactions is what is the appropriate way to respond to violence. I don't want my kid to automatically meet violence with violence. Don't get me wrong I definitely believe that there is a time and a place to stand up for yourself and whats right and you can and should defend yourself. But I don't want the snap reaction to be to punch back. Especially since Caleb is liable to be a BIG kid and an even bigger man. So I am completely okay with him stopping the other person from committing more violence (grabbing the arm) and getting in their face and going "This is not acceptable".

I think the whole world would go a little better if we did that in all our dealings with other people. When someone does something mean to us if we stop them, say, "No thats not okay," and have a chance to talk it out and give them a chance to choose their next action before we assume the worst and smash their faces in. But I digress...

I just think that positive reinforcement is a much, much, much more powerful and above all effective tool for teaching (both animals and people), and theres a metric crapload of research that supports this that I almost can't fathom why you would think the regular use of corporal punishment would ever be a good idea.

And while I personally fast once a  month for religious reasons (unless I am pregnant or sick), I definitely don't think "fasting" is a safe, healthy or good teaching tool for a child. I won't allow my children to join me in my fasting, if they so chose, until they're at least 8 years old (I define fasting as going for 2 meals - breakfast and lunch - without food or drink).

This is not to say that I wouldn't send a kid to bed without supper if they're refusing to eat what every body else is eating. You eat what the family eats, my house is not a restaurant. However, should you decide you're willing to eat that evil green bean, or what have you after all, your food will be waiting in the fridge for you. Thats just how I was raised. You definitely weren't getting desert until you ate all your veggies and that was final. But short of that, I really can't fathom why you would think withholding food from a child is a good idea. I do think desert and juice and other sweets are a privilege, and can be lost or earned, but a good solid meal with a big tall glass of water or milk is a right. I'm willing to negotiate on what veggies are eaten (a double serving of x instead of the icky y) but the veggies have to be eaten. Sorry.

So the using fasting to "train" a child bit of that article makes me wanna puke and beat the parents in question about the head and shoulders. But I'm clearly being judgmental.

And I'm okay with that.

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