Kids NEED discipline and guidance people…

I frequent a number of social help sites and message boards. I do it to help me understand people better. I do learn a lot, but I am constantly struck by how often people tend to confuse issues. Especially when it comes to raising kids. Like spanking. And discipline. Or never learn important life lessons for themselves.

I am all about letting kids learn to be their own person, but they need somewhere to start. A good framework to base their character on. If you want them to become positive, productive members of society, they need to be taught values/ethics and morals. They cannot learn these things on their own.

I have been quite vocal on this blog about the problems of society in general being the result of a lack of parental child raising discipline. Or, even worse, the parents teaching kids the wrong lessons. The results of this is all around us. And the evidence is equally salient. Here are a couple of examples:

A 12-year-old British boy appeared in court Wednesday charged with assault for throwing a sausage at a pensioner, police said.

Hmm. Odd… Let’s read on…

The youth, who can’t be named, was arrested after a 74-year-old man reported him to police for throwing a stone in Manchester, northern England.

The object turned out to be a cocktail sausage.

“Charging was the only option because the boy had previously been issued with three reprimands on separate occasions,” a Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said.

OK, this kid obviously has issues. What was even more disturbing to me was the way this kids mother responded to all of this:

The boy’s mother described the decision to charge her son as “an absolute joke,”

The boy’s mother said her son was worried he might be sent to prison. – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Now it may just be me, but it sounds like this kids mother is more worried about the penalties her son may face, rather than the fact that on 4 separate occasions (including this latest instance), her son has acted in an undisciplined and inappropriate manner? Didn’t she feel the need to discipline her child for that behavior? How about making him apologize to the pensioner? How about being a parent?

This kid is in court because he is unruly and inconsiderate. Or more likely, his mom has let him become that way. He is NOT in court because he threw a cocktail wiener at an old guy. Perhaps it is extreme to have to go to court for being a rambunctious kid, but if you’ve had the police called on you 4 times already, then obviously something has to be done.

I realize that there are cases where discipline is difficult, and I can only speculate on what is happening in that household, but from what I’ve read, I think MOM should be in court. Much better motivation to discipline her kid. Or not. But at least that way, when she shows up in court, it will be because she made the conscious decision to let her son do whatever he wants, and is willing to bear the consequences of both of their actions.

If I had done that to my Mom, she would have been mortified! She probably would have handed me over to the police herself! The thing is, the very first time I did something like that, I would have been severely disciplined. Regardless of whether it was a spanking, being disallowed to go hang out with my friends, no pocket money that week, whatever, I would have been taught that what I had done was wrong. It doesn’t matter what specific method was used, I would have learned not to do it again.

Instead, this kids mom probably defends everything he does, and he is now in court. He probably still doesn’t truly realize that what he did was wrong. What’s even worse is that he may still get off because he is a juvenile. Saddest of all, is the possibility that he will never learn anything from the experience because his mom will probably tell him that none of this was justified, and that he has been victimized by the authorities.

His antisocial behavior will continue, now with an added hatred for the police, and any/all authority figures. And when he finally grows up and decides to join some criminal organization, and a pursue a life of crime his mom will spend many a sleepless night asking herself where she went wrong raising him… Or not. She may keep cheering him on regardless. And yet we wonder why our kids are so jacked up…

Here’s another example, a worse scenario, with a rather blatant display of parental ignorance:

A mother and father are facing charges they encouraged their 13-year-old daughter to fight another girl. Debra Sue Grubb, 33, is charged in Kanawha County Magistrate Court with misdemeanor battery after allegedly forcing her daughter Gabrielle to fight 14-year-old Megan Willis near the Grubbs’ home on Aug. 15, Trooper J.M. Comer said Wednesday.

Are you kidding me? I could understand a parent telling their kid to stand up for, or defend themselves against bullying, but this?

At one point, Grubb allegedly grabbed her daughter by the arm and used her daughter’s body as a weapon to knock Megan to the ground.

Thomas Leon Grubb, 35, is charged with misdemeanor assault. Comer said Grubb is accused of threatening to harm two boys who were with Megan if they tried to break up the fight.

“It turned into a mess,” Comer said. “The two parents allowed this to happen when it should have been handled by the parents.”
– [Yahoo/AP]

You know, I almost don’t even know what to say about this. Obviously these parents never learned that violence is not the solution for everything. In fact it sounds like the kids may have been better off without their involvement. Much like the irate cussing YouTube parent I talked about before, the problem here is that even the parents don’t know any better. The only thing that might save the kids is if they end up being more intelligent than their parents, and figure this out on their own.

Then I run across parents on the message boards I was taking about earlier asking how to get their kids to do things like chores, dishes, cleaning, homework, even their own freakin’ laundry… It amazes me… Parents, your kids need discipline. The whole spanking /non-spanking issue is stupid. It’s in your head. Spanking is only abuse if you use it to vent your frustration. When used correctly, it is a tool, just like any other. And there are many of them. Use your head. Use what you know will work. Try a bunch of different things.

Just use them correctly. You can still psychologically abuse a child if you misuse a non-physical punishment. Do not punish out of anger, or out of frustration, or out of weariness or fear. Use these tools for discipline. To teach important life lessons. To teach them to be considerate of others. To be good human beings. Kids need this in order to become healthy adults. Do not deny them that opportunity.

Boy in court for throwing sausage – [Yahoo/Reuters]

Parents accused of encouraging fight – [Yahoo/AP]


2 Responses to “Kids NEED discipline and guidance people…”

  1. 1 nanner
    August 23, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    I agree that some parents are neglectful in raising and teaching their kids, but I disagree about the method of ‘discipline’ you encourage here. I’d rather have a child motivated out of empathy than out of fear, and spanking motivates them out of fear. How could spanking possibly teach a child that hitting is wrong? Seems more likely it would teach a child that the bigger and tougher you are, the more likely you are to win, and that if he does do anything wrong in the future, he just better make sure he doesn’t get caught!

  2. August 23, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    I really don’t think empathy makes for a reliable disciplinary tool. Emotions are much too fickle. What happens when a kids desires override their empathy for their parent or guardian? And how many of them even think in such broad terms?

    And when that day comes, do we let them do what they want? I daresay no. Children need to be taught the concepts of consideration and self sacrifice. They are not born with them. Some of them are intelligent enough to figure it out on their own, but they are a precious few. For the rest, we need more.

    So far as spanking and fear are concerned, any form of discipline, be it spanking or yelling, if improperly administered, will generate fear and/or anxiety. But fear is a function of ignorance, the result of not knowing when, where and why a punishment might occur. Take away the ignorance, and there should be no fear. And this is where I think many parents make mistakes.

    If a standard set of patterns is used, that prescribes a predictable set of punishments for a specific set of negative behaviors, then there should be no fear. Just the knowledge that doing X will have consequence Y. Then, punishment will only reinforce the childs self-discipline. No more fear. Or avoidance.

    The idea is to teach our kids that their actions have consequences. That bad actions return negative consequences, and that positive actions return positive consequences. The results should be predictable, and more importantly, instantaneous, so that they can easily make the connection between the two. Which is why, in some situations, a spanking is an effective solution.

    Now I should add that I am not, by any means, advocating spanking as the only way to discipline a child. However I strongly believe that a child needs a combination of both positive reinforcement as well as negative deterrents in order for them to properly be disciplined. And sometimes other means are not sufficiently timely for the correlation to be made.

    And the problem with positive reinforcements is that, while much more fun, they tend to become ineffective in the absence of the reward. It is much harder, sometime impossible, to positively reinforce a negative habit out of existence, because you don’t want to make a correlation between a bad habit and a reward. You need negative deterrents for balance. To use one without the other just doesn’t make sense.

    As for the lessons learned by those kids whose parents decide to resort to spanking, I think it depends greatly on the context in which it occurs, and how it’s purpose is conveyed. If a structured penalty/reward schedule is used, and the reasoning is properly conveyed, then the child will make the association between bad actions and bad consequences, and will not focus at all on the hitting by itself.

    I think that, when it comes to discipline, too many are quick to say “hitting is wrong”, citing reasons that are, in fact due to it being abused, rather than any inherent flaws with the method itself. As I pointed out before, a spanking does not create fear unless it occurs without rhyme or reason in the eyes of the one being punished. And that can be solved by making it an expected response to specific actions.

    It also does not teach that “might makes right” unless it is used as a tool for venting ones frustration, rather than teaching kids right from wrong. This can be prevented if the parent employs some self discipline of their own. If they learn to control their emotions, set up and use a consistent reward/punishment regimen, with communication and education, rather than letting things slide, and then just flying off the handle, or letting their own fickle emotions determine the punishment schedule, this should not be an issue.

    There are as many different means of negative deterrents are there are positive reinforcements. Each ones will work to a different degree for each child, and the parent has to figure out which one is best for them.

    But at the end of the day, I truly believe that there must be consistency, balance (both positive and negative), education and a well-defined structure to whatever system is used to discipline a child, whether or not spanking is involved, if the child is to grow into a well adjusted adult. Anything less is, at best, a half measure.

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