positive discipline - part 2

>> May 26, 2010

OK, there were no comments on my last post about positive discipline. I don’t know if that means you didn’t read it, you disagree with what I said, or if nobody wants to talk about how we discipline (or should) our kids. I invite you to comment on today’s post just so I know you are out there!

Last week we discussed how it is our responsibility and duty to discipline—to make disciples of Christ out of—our children. I also shared how it is one of my least favorite aspects of parenting. However, when your children respond positively, and exhibit the qualities that you are trying to instill in them, it is sooooo rewarding! We all know how it feels when they misbehave, especially in front of those gossiping church members. Well, it feels equally--if not even more—impacting when they behave like we want them to.

Today let’s talk more about the aspects of positive discipline. We learned last week how “PD” should be prayerful and proactive. A third principle is consistency. PD should always be consistent. Some of the biggest problems in our home has been because my husband and I haven’t always dealt with our children in the same way. I am not criticizing my dear PH in any way, but I have had more opportunity to “hone and perfect” my disciplining skills, simply because of my studies, and because I am with the kids more often. Kids easily learn how to manipulate and navigate a team of two disjointed parents. My hubby is doing much better in this area now, and we more unified.

However, lack of consistency doesn’t have to be between two parents. It can also be an issue for one parent, in how they handle discipline from one instance to another. I personally have struggled with this because of health issues. I have fibromyalgia, and I am not always well. Sometimes I haven’t felt like putting the energy forth to handle a situation in the manner that I knew it should be handled. Consequently, my kids may push the limits more often, because they know sometimes they might get away with the misbehavior. And my kids aren’t alone! Every child will cross boundaries that are not consistently enforced.

Fourth, PD should be firm. This goes along with consistency. Wimpy discipline is as ineffective as inconsistent discipline. God is certainly not wimpy in His discipline of us; neither should we be in the discipline of our children. With that said, we should not be overzealous in the area of corporal punishment. Whether you believe in spankings or not, I’m sure we could all agree that it should be the last resort. And when you do utilize corporal punishment, do it prayerfully and slowly. I remember as a kid watching on Little House on the Prairie how Pa would take the kids out to the barn to spank them. It was a slow, deliberate process, rather than just an emotional reaction.

And fifth, PD should be swift. This is not in contradiction to what I just said about corporal punishment. Swift means that when something happens you deal with it immediately. Younger children, especially, will not remember what they have done wrong, and the teachable moment will have passed by. However, there is nothing wrong with “suspending judgment”. By that I mean when something happens, you address it immediately, but delay the “sentencing” for a later time, after you have had time to pray and think about it, and perhaps discuss it with your husband. My PH likes to call it the “icing time” (where you put them on hold--or on ice) and it does have its benefits. The child has time to think about what he/she has done, and we have time to calm down and prayerfully come up with an effective punishment.

So to recap, positive discipline is prayerful, proactive, consistent, firm and swift. Next week we will continue our discussion on this aspect of parenting, and how it should be positive and constructive, rather than negative and destructive.

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Anonymous,  May 26, 2010 at 12:11 PM  

People used to think it was necessary to "spank" adult members of the community, military trainees, and prisoners. In some countries they still do. In our country, it is considered sexual battery if a person over the age of 18 is "spanked", but only if over the age of 18.

For one thing, because the buttocks are so close to the sex organs, anal region, and so multiply linked to sexual nerve centers, striking them can trigger powerful and involuntary sexual stimulus in some people. There are numerous physiological ways in which it can be intentionally or unintentionally sexually abusive, but I won't list them all here. One can read the testimony, documentation, and educational resources available from the website of Parents and Teachers Against Violence In Education at www.nospank.net.

Child bottom-slapping vs. DISCIPLINE:

Child bottom-slapping/battering (euphemistically labeled "spanking","swatting","switching","smacking", "paddling",or other cute-sounding names) for the purpose of gaining compliance is nothing more than an inherited bad habit.

Its a good idea for people to take a look at what they are doing, and learn how to DISCIPLINE instead of hit.

I think the reason why television shows like "Supernanny" and "Dr. Phil" are so popular is because that is precisely what many (not all) people are trying to do.

There are several reasons why child bottom-slapping isn't a good idea. Here are some good, quick reads recommended by professionals:

Plain Talk About Spanking
by Jordan Riak,

The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
by Tom Johnson,

by Lesli Taylor M.D. and Adah Maurer Ph.D.

Just a handful of those helping to raise awareness of why child bottom-slapping isn't a good idea:

American Academy of Pediatrics,
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
American Psychological Association,
Center For Effective Discipline,
Churches' Network For Non-Violence,
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
Parenting In Jesus' Footsteps,
Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children,
United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

In 26 countries, child corporal punishment is prohibited by law (with more in process). In fact, the US was the only UN member that did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Adel May 26, 2010 at 10:29 PM  

Julie, thank you for the reminder to be positive and proactive. Even though I just have an 8-month-old, it's a good reminder! I must say I'm with Rachael, that there are times when discipline MUST be unpleasant (like for me right now when I'm on a sugar fast!), but like I said, it's a good reminder....

SKA May 27, 2010 at 7:06 AM  

Julie, I'm with you on this.... I'm truly grateful for the effortbmy parents gave to make discipline both positive and appropriately painful! They were most deeply concerned about giving me a solid godly character, rather than their own convenience or personal pursuits - two things which I believe are prime obstacles to parental consistency and firmness.

As the mother of a 7-month old, my appreciation for their investment in me is already enhanced as I see just how much work it takes to be a Christlike parent. Parenting biblically, where we take seriously the duty of shaping our kids' characters for both responsible adulthood and for heavenly citizenship has really gone out of fashion. Thank you for the reminder of how important it really is!

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