Summary: “The pen is mightier than the spanking”
Years ago in a faraway land I managed a lot of people. Once upon a time a person who reported to me walked into my office and declared emphatically (not to be confused with asking) “I need to take the rest of the day off!!” I replied, “May I ask why?” She said, “I need to go home and spank my children!!” I said, “What was their crime…why do you feel the need to go home and spank them?” She replied, “They were hitting each other!!” I’ll pause my story here and let you think about this woman’s response to her children’s actions.
Is it logical to teach children not to hit each other, by hitting them? I’m not sure that is the best way to get your parenting point across. It is more likely that spanking the children, in this case, will reinforce the message that when you are frustrated with someone, a logical and acceptable response to your frustration is to hit them.
So, if you decide against the hitting-begets-hitting approach to disciplining your children, what is another viable option? One option is to get the assailants to produce a written report on “hitting your siblings.” For example, ask them to write all about hitting their brother or sister, challenge them to think through their behavior and get them to describe what it is like to be on the receiving end of such behavior. Keep reviewing the report and sending them back to their writing assignment until you think they get the point (related to the consequences of whatever crime they committed).
Maybe you think this is too lightweight an approach for serious parenting. All I can tell you is that my parents used this method on me and I haaaaaaattttteeeeed it!! Especially when my dad added his favorite trick of making me get up early before school to write a report on my offensive behavior. However, it did make me think about my transgression and usually prevented the repetition of at least that particular crime. By the way, I used this method on my children and they seemed to haaaaaaattttteeeee it!! Based on their words, voice tone and body language when I doled out their literary assignments, they definitely considered it to be a viable form of punishment. And based on a recent discussion with one of my now adult children, report-writing seems to have found it’s way into the lives of the next generation of adolescent transgressors.
If your main goal in situations such as this is to get your children to think about their actions and the consequences of their actions, this might be worth giving a try. Perhaps in the long run it will help your children joyfully participate in life. In the short-run, I suspect they will not think so.
Joyfully participate in life today…Chris