Would you allow someone else to discipline your kids?

by freedom96 20 Replies latest jw friends

  • Billygoat

    (((((LB))))) I used to dream of a protective father like you.

    Here's a prezzy.


    Love you,


  • plmkrzy

    N E V E R !

  • Oroborus21


    This is nice topic to kick around because everyone has a different experience and opinion. Ultimately we are talking about the “end result” of corporal punishment and so experience teaches us that there are persons that were spanked that turned out great and persons that weren’t spanked that turned out great and the converse is true also.

    What this suggests is that there is not “right” approach.

    There are TWO ULTIMATE REASONS for any punishment:

    ONE: Behaviour Modification. This is true “discipline” or training in some form where we are trying to correct negative or bad past behaviour and replace that with positive or good behavior in the future.

    TWO: Moral Retribution. This is a sense of “justice” in the “eye- for-an-eye” view. This is the basic idea that for every action there is a moral consequence, and more than that, a “right” way of being.

    Keep these two ultimate reasons in mind as you read further.

    This issue of corporal punishment is very similar to the theories underlying addressing “criminal” conduct.

    What we are really talking about here is what psychologists refer to as “behaviour modification” or getting someone’s to change their conduct.

    There are of course two basic approaches to behaviour modification, POSITIVE reinforcement and NEGATIVE reinforcement.

    Most people will agree that positive reinforcement is to be preferred and there is some evidence to support the notion that in many situations positive reinforcement is more effective (shows a stronger correlation to producing the desired behavioural response).

    People who are so anti-spanking are really just saying the obvious, namely that they prefer positive reinforcement over negative reinforcement (which corporal punishment is a form). Well duhhhh!

    We all can agree to that and in fact if positive reinforcement was 100% effective with our children we would always use incentives, rewards, warm counseling, instruction, etc. to produce the behavioural responses we desire. The reality however is that positive reinforcement is not effective all the time and therefore one must recognize that NEGATIVE reinforcement is not only valid but sometimes necessary to produce the desired change in behaviour.

    Now lets examine the underlying theories behind criminal justice because essentially we are discussing the same idea.

    There are four basic theories or “rationales” for criminal justice and in our discussion lets think of them in terms of the “punishment” we bestow upon our children.

    1. Incapacity

    The idea behind the incapacitative approach is that the person will be PHYSICALLY prevented from engaging in future negative conduct. When we give our child a “time out” that is exactly what we are doing (only using our intimidation and threats and generally not physical restraints). A criminal getting “20 to life” is also getting a “time out”. In fact in the American criminal justice system this is the root approach to criminal justice. We can conclude on our own just how effective this is both for curbing future criminal behaviour and with curbing the future negative behaviour of our children. Essentially it really does not address the underlying problem. You are therefore fooling yourself if you confuse the “temporary cessation” of the negative behaviour of a “time out” with true discipline and this form of punishment is very unlikely to produce true behaviour modification (learning).

    2. Rehabiliation

    The idea behind rehabiliation is that the negative behaviour results from faulty learning of proper behaviour or faulty application of good behaviour. The goal and underlying theory is that “correct” or “right” behaviour need only be learned and the individual will voluntarily adopt or conform to that newly learned correct behaviour in the future.

    Think about the problem with this.

    Example: You catch your child lighting matches. You can teach your child not to light fires, about what happens when fires are lit, etc. etc. But will that itself get them to conform and not play with matches again? No, you have to address the reasons WHY your child is so interested in lighting fires in the first place.

    The failure with most attempts at rehabilitation is that it too often fails to address the underlying causalities or reasons behind the negative behaviour in the first place.

    In the criminal context it is a farce since many of the “underlying reasons” poverty, etc. are not and cannot be addressed in prison.

    But you may notice that often the most effective rehabilitation like certain drug-dependency rehab programs often address the underlying reasons with therapy and biological understanding.

    3. Deterrence

    This is the simplest and most basic form of behavioral modification. Essentially the point is to teach that for every ACTION X there is a CONSEQUENCE Y.

    Deterrence is the idea that persons understanding that Negative Consequence Y will result from Action X will refrain from engaging in Action X in the first place.

    In fact this form of behaviour modification is EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE, but there is a catch.

    In order for it to be effective, the Consequence Y to Action X must be readily APPARENT, IMMEDIATE and CONSISTENT.

    If Consequence Y is unknown or if it is separated in time (does not immediately follow) Action X then it will not be effective.

    Indeed think about it. There would be very few murders committed if the standing behind the Murderer there was the Executioner with axe in hand so that immediately upon committing the murder the murderer would in turn be killed.

    On the other hand if you knew you could do any negative Action X and not face Consequence Y until the end of your life would it be much of a deterrent?

    This illustrates why the Death Penalty is NOT very effective in deterring capital crime in most states, because 1) the criminal does not see the punishment apparent at the time of committing the crime (and many times believe they will get away with it) and 2) the legal process and appeals, etc. means that the punishment won’t be for many many years anyway. It also explains why the death penalty is slightly more effective as a deterrent in Texas where the process is significantly speedier.

    Getting back to our topic it is an important lesson for parents. If Deterrence is part of your philosophy in punishment then you MUST make it apparent, consistent and immediate.

    Your child must first KNOW that Action X brings a spanking. (It is apparent to them, no surprises!)

    Additionally you have to be CONSISTENT. You can’t let your child commit the act and one time spank him or her and the next time they commit the same act give them a different punishment. That will only confuse the child and undermine the effectiveness.

    And it must be IMMEDIATE. Your child can’t commit some act that you disapprove and then weeks later you pull him out of bed and make him stand in a corner. That’s not effective deterrence. Nor should you wait until after the meeting or to get home to administer such punishment

    Consistency, Apparency and Immediacy are the keys, other wise there will be no deterrence.

    4. Retribution

    Finally we have the fourth rationale or theory of criminal justice. The “eye-for-an-eye” the right and the wrong, morality, ethics, etc. In our criminal justice system this is reflected by the fact that certain crimes have corresponding punishments, escalating in seriousness.

    Similarly in punishment of our children we reflect this idea buy punishing minor infractions with what we consider less punishment and more severe conduct more severely. A 2 minute time out versus a 5 minute time out. One swat versus ten swats and so on.

    This is I think an often overlooked quality of our discipline. We too often forget that the lesson we are trying to teach our children is that there is a “right” way to behave for the sake of behaving rightly (not out of fear of punishment). This actually is the way that God deals with us and it is the closest rationale that reflects his divine attribute of Justice.

    Finally let’s think about spanking specifically. Obviously by now we should be thinking about our motivation for spanking in the first place. We can all agree that spanking (or striking our child) out of anger is not appropriate.

    What happens when we spank?

    There is both physical pain and emotional fear created. Both are effective negative reinforcement if they are strong enough.

    In spanking we briefly INCAPACITATE the child.

    If prior to spanking or immediately after we discuss with the child the REASONS for the spanking then we are striving to teach or REHABILITATE the child.

    If we are consistent and the child KNOWS (i.e. it is APPARENT) that a spanking will be coming IMMEDIATELY upon the commission of Negative Action X every time (CONSISTENCY) then it will be an effective DETERRENT also.

    Finally, the physical pain and emotional fear instilled by a spanking are how we exact a “moral retribution” for whatever they have done improperly.

    But more importantly if we, especially during the “rest of the time,” discuss with them and set the example for the right way of doing things ourselves then we will be reflecting justice. This means treating our children and others fairly and being consistent and morally right in our own conduct and our dealings towards them. In this way they learn the principle of justice and right behaviour and it further creates a proper expectation on their part that others exert right conduct towards them.

    So is spanking bad. Not when it is done in the right way.

    Of course spanking should not be the only tool we use or the only form of punishment (negative reinforcement) that we resort to when something occurs. It doesn’t have to be the last or final resort and in fact may be counterproductive if it is the last resort since the child will learn that he can ignore all of your other punishments until you get to that last straw. That is not the message you want to send.

    Instead try and use everything you can to discipline your child with righteousness.


  • freedom96

    Wow LB, what a story. I am sorry you had to go through that.

  • Navigator

    Oroborus 21

    Well presented and reasoned post Eduardo.!

  • Cicatrix

    I'm currently an education major, and we were informed that in most states, it is illegal for a public school official to hit a child now. In fact, the pendulum seems to be swinging the other direction.

    My children's school just lost a very good teacher last year. He attempted to discipline two girls by keeping them in for recess. The parents sided with the girls, and I was at the school for my kid's conference the day they came in and yelled at that teacher, threatening all kinds of retribution for daring to discipline their kids (it was the loss of ONE recess, mind you).The teacher apologised to me for having to hear the tirade, and told me that he would be retiring because he couldn't continue working under those conditions. I had known this teacher for many years. He was my sister's teacher when I was a kid, then my older children had him.My daughter became pen pals with his daughter, who was severely handicapped and later died of complications from her condition.He was a great father, and was well-liked and respected by most of the students. I never saw him discipline in a harsh manner-and yes, he had to discipline my children:) He never spanked kids, yet constantly was faced with parents who didn't want their kids disciplined by him in any manner, but who wouldn't talk to their kids themselves about the children's disruptive behavior.

    In my daughter's school, some junior high girls got mad at a teacher for putting them on in-school suspension. They brought legal accusations against him that he was sexually molesting them. The police investigated, then dropped the charges. The girls later admitted it was a fraudulant claim.

    While I was working in a high school last year, I witnessed several incidents that I can't reveal due to privacy issues. But they involved a challenge by various students to the directions of various teachers.The children in question were disrupting class and visibly upsetting other students, but the teachers were powerless to do anything about it. Calling in the principal only brought temporary reprieve.I'd say about 30% of the class time was involved with handling discipline problems.

    This is not to say that all teachers love their jobs and are comitted to the education of children. I've worked in the schools, and I've seen effective teachers and ineffective teachers. Some really do seem to have an ax to grind with the students.A lot of teachers, however, start out with a commitment to education, and find that they have to spend more time trying to get kids to pay attention than they do to delivering the material. And it isn't always their teaching style that is the problem. I've watched teachers whose students have told me are "awesome," have days where nothing they do is effective to get the kid's attention.Daily, they are dealing with children who pay less and less attention, while the teachers are being held more and more accountable for what these children are learning.

    So yes, I let others discipline my children. I don't believe in spanking for older kids, nor do I think school officials should paddle kids. But I've not objected to my sisters, friends, and the children's teachers disciplining them when they need it. I listen to both the adult and the child's version of the events, and I back up an adult's decision if my child's transgressions are serious- with grounding at home (which they hate with a passion-they'd rather have a spanking:) ) I have also challenged teachers and others who I thought didn't have a case for what they were doing (like the time my daughter lost a recess for coloring a tree purple. The teacher never told them what color to color the tree-the directions just said to color it. She told me my daughter was being "rebellious" , because everyone knows trees are green. Well, there are actually trees that have leaves that look purple. There was one such tree down the road from our house where my daughter got her inspiration. So I took a picture of the purple tree to her teacher and showed it to her.This teacher, by the way, had created problems for every jw child that was ever in her class).

  • dedalus
    I have relatives who work for a couple of school districts, and let me tell you, teachers are not all they should be these days. Some of them are in the profession, not for love of children, but for power over someone. Or because they could not succeed at anything else. Regardless, I don't trust their judgement enough to hit my child. Of course, they should have some methods of discipline, loss of activities, extra homework, and, most importantly, open communication with parents.

    Hey, watch it there. As an English teacher, I don't observe this trend at all. Sure, there are some teachers who are bloated dead weights, and one wonders why they do what they do, but this, in my experience is rare. And I seriously resent the idea that people become teachers because they "could not succeed at anything else." Teaching is a very difficult thing to do well; more than a skill, it's a lifestyle, and certainly it's not something one does because one is underqualified, uninspired, unintelligent, or unsuccessful in life.

    I spent 6 years getting degrees in my subject area and I know more about what I teach than I'll ever be able to use on the high school level, and I'll owe more in college loans than I'll ever be able to pay back on my salary. But I love what I do, and I consider it very important, and that's why I'm a teacher -- it seemed a more meaningful professional choice than fading into the esoteric world of literary research. I don't know any teachers who feel otherwise, and I don't think that's because I work in some exceptional school district.

    I agree with you that, as a parent, I wouldn't trust teachers or other adults with the administration of discipline in the form of spanking. But it's not necessary to put down the whole lot of teachers ("teachers are not all they should be these days") to make that point. I know you probably didn't mean to generalize that much, but it sure sounded like you were.


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