All Articles Tagged "disciplining children"
In the midst of my scrambling to keep up with the avalanche of homework assignments that have poured in since the start of fall classes, my laptop charger broke. I frantically got myself together to head to the Apple store so that I could purchase another charger and get back to the many tasks at hand when my Aunt called and asked if I could look after my four-year-old cousin Nyla* for a few hours. I agreed to bring her along. “What’s the worst that could happen?” I thought to myself. You could probably guess what happened next because chances are I wouldn’t be writing this article if things went smoothly, right? Nyla behaved terribly. And no, I’m not talking about that “Why-do-I-have-to-keep-talking-to-you!” terrible, I mean that blatant and disrespectful I-see-you-talking-to-me-but-I’m-going-to-look-you-in-your-face-and-do-what-I-want-anyway terrible. You know all of those things your parents used to warn you that you’d better not do when you all got out in public? Apparently she didn’t get the memo because she pulled out all of those tricks. Her behavior made me want to take her back home as soon as I got into the mall, which was unfortunate because I’d planned to make the best out of our outing and try to make it fun for her by taking her to get ice cream and to the toy store to pick out a new doll. While her misbehavior was annoying, what bothered me the most was her quick mouth, which she fixed several times to tell me “Relax, girl.” Yes she did, and she’s only four.
During the entire outing all I kept thinking was “Wow, what is the protocol for disciplining other people’s children again?” I do not have children; however, I do hope to have them someday. While I felt Nyla’s behavior certainly had earned a nice “POP,” I wasn’t sure how I would feel about someone else putting their hand’s on my child and even more so how my aunt would feel about it. Sure, there are methods of disciplining children other than corporal punishment, but this child was way beyond time-out and the way that she was disregarding the instruction that I did give her, it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. I realize that this is a topic with a wide range of viewpoints so I had some parents and child care providers weigh in on the subject as well. When asked how they felt about other people physically disciplining their children this is how they responded:
“I find nothing wrong with it as long as i have given you the “okay” that you’re apart of my village in helping me raise my child. If you’re a random person, then nope! I am quick to help discipline another child, because I know I am coming from a place of teaching, correcting and helping the child learn life. I have always been everybody’s momma!”
- Tishima H., Brooklyn, NY
“This is never okay. There are other ways to discipline children, negative plus negative is only positive in math. I’ve been working with children for about four years now, all ages. I’ve seen the worst behavior and have managed to reverse it with other methods. With all that being said, don’t touch my kid!”
- Tiffani G., Orlando, FL
“Family, meaning people I know to care about me and my child’s well being. They have to have been around my child most of their life, not in and out. They have to know and understand my child from their innocent stages until that moment of discipline. If they see my child doing harm to another human being, by all means snatch them up! You could be saving his/her life at that moment as well as saving their family some unwanted tears.”
- Richard G., Brooklyn, NY
Needless to say, I decided against hitting Nyla. Instead, I told her that I was very unhappy with her behavior and sat in silence during our ride home since I know that talking is one of her favorite things to do. I felt better about this decision since I’m not exactly sure how I feel about physical discipline, yet. Although corporal punishment seems to be an unwritten rule in many black households, my parents never had to hit me growing up. I was such a sensitive kid that a raised voice would set off the waterworks. My brother; however, was a different story. A good spanking was the only language he understood. In the case of Nyla, I can’t say how effective my “silent punishment” was. I guess I’ll know the next time she and I are out in public.
What are your thoughts? Are you okay with other people physically disciplining your children? Should corporal punishment even be inflicted on children at all?
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We know what a polarizing topic corporal punishment is and the line between those who do and those who don’t is probably about to get a lot thicker now that a study has claimed to have found a link between being spanked as a child and developing a mental illness as an adult.
In a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers examined data from more than 34,000 adults and found that being spanked significantly increased the risk of developing mental health issues as adults. Specifically, corporal punishment was associated with mood disorders like depression and anxiety, as well as personality disorders and alcohol and drug abuse. According to investigators, as much as 7 percent of adult mental illness may be attributable to childhood physical punishment, including slapping, shoving, grabbing, and hitting. Furthermore, the study concludes that spanking increases the risk of major depression by 41 percent, alcohol and drug abuse by 59 percent, and mania by 93 percent.
Study author Tracie Afifi, PhD, of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, said in a statement:
“We’re not talking about just a tap on the bum, we were looking at people who used physical punishment as a regular means to discipline their children. [This study] definitely points to the direction that physical punishment should not be used on children of any age.”
For the results the researchers observed, it would seem they were talking about physical punishments far more severe than a parent getting a switch and hitting their child with it, but their analysis excluded individuals who reported more severe punishments such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, or exposure to intimate partner violence. Most of us know someone who was regularly disciplined as a child by spankings and was better off for it (heck, we might even be that person), and as one facetious commenter said on a Yahoo write-up of the study:
“In a related study, children who were given no consequences at all for bad behaviors turned out to be psychopaths, sociopaths, and politicians.”
I think studies like this need to be clear about the line between spanking and beating or physically harming your child. I don’t think physical punishment should always be the first choice of discipline but there are times when it’s needed and there was a time when it was socially acceptable without the threat of being labeled a child abuser because of data like this.
Thankfully, psychologist Robert Larzelere, of Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, provided more of a voice of reason when asked to comment on the study by USA Today. He said:
“Certainly, overly severe physical punishment is going to have adverse effects on children, but for younger kids, if spanking is used in the most appropriate way and the child perceives it as being motivated by concern for their behavior and welfare, then I don’t think it has a detrimental effect.
“[This study] does nothing to move beyond correlations to figure out what is actually causing the mental health problems,” he added criticizing the fact that the study relied on adults’ memories of events from years earlier, adding that it’s not clear when punishment occurred. “The motivation that the child perceives and when and how and why the parent uses [spanking] makes a big difference. All of that is more important than whether it was used or not.”
What do you think about this study? Do you think spanking and physical punishment is dangerous to kids’ psyches?
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There’s really no way to half-A$$ it: Your kids are incompetent.
As I ease into life as a first-year teacher for an under-funded, shoddily-staffed, failing charter school on Chicago’s Far South Side, I’m learning the myriad ways in which young black children are being bred for failure – if not general insufficiency – in an economically crippled society that increasingly demands competition.
I could write a long thesis paper about the socioeconomic failures of our government and society when it comes to how we handle poor minorities. In this case, however, I’d rather focus on things that I think you, dear reader, can actually control:
Raise ‘em old school: It sounds prosaic when older people say that the new generation doesn’t have the respect that they had when they were kids. But dammit, it’s all the way true…mainly because parents are getting younger and younger. If grandma is 39 years old, how much can you reasonably expect from students who literally, unabashedly curse out their teachers? Since I can’t pop ‘em in the mouth like I’d like to at times, perhaps you should make them a bit more respectful. Just a thought.
Bathe them: I teach freshmen. By the end of seventh period every day, it’s a safe bet my classroom will smell less than stellar. I have certain students I can’t even stand next to. I was a grubby kid (and some might argue I can be a grubby adult at times), but I was at least acquainted with a bar of soap. Get them familiar just the same…do you really want your boy to grow to be a man without ever having a woman within a reasonable circumference of their person?
Help them with homework: I was not the class valedictorian, by any means. And though I had very educated parents, they didn’t ride me to study and perform well. But boy, I knew the value of getting my homework done. Too many of my kids look at me like I’m speaking Mandarin Chinese when I ask them to get homework in. So many are failing for that reason alone. Your average 14-year-old needs to be ushered into high school the right way, so do your best to help them with the basic algebra at home. And if you don’t remember it, pay your nerdy cousin with free sixers of MGD to tutor your kid.
Have frank sexual conversations: As of this writing, I’m dealing with a student who is now the rumored Amber Cole of the school because she got busted in the boy’s bathroom. Twice. Servicing two different boys. As can be expected, her name is buzzing around the school in a major way. Make sure you don’t have that daughter. If you have a son, give him the common sense and wherewithal to see that he is not the teenaged sire of a child destined to be one of the many students I have with no papa at home.
Teach them the true value of material items: It’s funny how many students I have who think that I’m paid because I wear an $80 pair of Cole Haan shoes and a nice leather motorcycle jacket. If only they knew. I went to school with a bunch of materialistic hood ferrets who valued Tommy Hilfiger and Nautica more than they did bread and water, so I know what misplaced priorities look like. Teach them that a brand name is just a reason to exponentially increase the price of a sweatshirt. The sartorially awkward geeky kids will thank you for it.