All Articles Tagged "domestic corporal punishment as parents"
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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Word on the street is (or via a study that is) that while many people like to play like they’re against spanking or “whoopings” of their kids and don’t discipline them in public, they’re likely lying. Or at least, that’s what I took away from it. *Kanye shrugs* In the study, researchers from Michigan State University anonymously observed the interactions of more than 100 caregivers with children between the ages of three and five outside of a laboratory and in a natural setting, and jotted down their findings. They were surprised to find that more than 23 percent of the caregivers they watched punished the children through “negative touching” aka, old-school discipline, through spanking, arm pulling, pinching and even slapping in public. This happened more than many caregivers have claimed or showed when asked to do lab surveys and experiments on disciplining children. A trip to the mall on the weekend probably could have proved that many folks are fans of public punishment.
Kathy Stansbury, who led the study had this to say about the behavior of these parents:
“I was very surprised to see what many people consider a socially undesirable behavior done by nearly a quarter of the caregivers. I have also seen hundreds of kids and their parents in a lab setting and never once witnessed any of this behavior.”
Well of course not, Kathy. But when they think nobody’s looking, that’s a whole other story.
Also in the study, they found that while mothers did a majority of the tugging, spanking, pinching and slapping in public, fathers did do some form of touching, but it was more on the positive side. The study found that more fathers were trying to calm children and talk to them after-the-fact.
“…researchers said they found that male caregivers touched the children more during discipline settings than female caregivers – and the majority of the time it was in a positive manner. Positive touch included hugging, tickling and patting. She said [Stansbury] this positive approach contradicts the age-old stereotype of the father as the parent who lays down the law.”
In Stanbury’s eyes, fathers who are involved are trying to have more of a say in the disciplining of their kids. So while mothers are usually known as the nurturing type, roles are starting to be flipped as fathers are getting their nurturer on from time to time with more moms becoming disciplinarians. As crazy as that sounds, I could agree somewhat that this is happening more and more these days. My brother and his wife have squabbles often over disciplining my nephew. She’s ready to spank and send him to his room while my brother thinks she needs to cut him slack. Safe to say, he’s spoiled. My own mother did more of the disciplining when it came to us via her red leather belt, while my father did more talking…or better yet, watching TV during those moments.
In the end, Stansbury seems to be anti-public discipline and thinks “positive touching” can go further than straight up embarrassing your child in public. She says that all that quick slapping and spanking doesn’t get the child to comply as easily as parents think. Instead, they spend a good minute sulking and pouting instead of doing what you want or ask:
“If your child is upset and not minding you and you want to discipline them, I would use a positive, gentle touch. Our data found that negative touch didn’t work.”
That’s cool and all, but I’d like to see how Stansbury really handles a rambunctious child when her patience and that whole concept of “positive touching” starts to wear thin…
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