take the child's perspective
Over 90 per cent of American parents rely on physical punishment to correct children's behavior, according to The Journal of Sociology. 1999.
That statistic scares me. I'd like every parent or person in a position of trust to take the child's perspective before you impose physical punishment.
How would feel if you were only three feet tall and an adult was looming over you, yelling, screaming, and swinging their hands in your direction? Consider the fear this could instill. Imagine the confusion as the person who is supposed to nurture you, and provide you with safety, imposes some level of inescapable pain on you. Would you scream, cry, act out, or run away?
We should ask ourselves, 'What are we teaching children by imposing physical punishment?' I see a moral paradox in teaching a child not to hit by hitting them or teaching them not to scream by yelling at them.
One of the most trying times in many parents day is bedtime. Parents seem to think that children should automatically fall asleep. Perhaps paddling or shouting will intimidate them enough to 'shut up and go to sleep' when it's not automatic. Take the child's perspective. Have you ever had insomnia? Would getting slapped out of frustration convince you to fall asleep? Have you ever tossed and turned all night? Do you sleep well when you're scared? Children are no different.
Adults have options to help them get to sleep. Children are required to lay in bed, quiet and still whether they are tired or not. Eventually, they'll sleep but consider the trauma they may experience in the process.
Behavioral psychology teaches that rewarding positive behavior is more effective than punishing undesirable behavior. Developmental psychology has found soothing sounds, calm environments, and structure positively impact behavior.
Stop punishing and start rewarding. Figure out what you want your children to do and reward them for it. Rewards can be complimenting and praising them, small pieces of candy, time spent playing a favorite game, time spent watching a favorite television show, or anything else special to the child. Acknowledge them as children who are loved and nurtured.
High energy, breaking things, not paying attention, spilling things, running wild and being loud are part of being a child. Children are not miniature adults and shouldn't be expected to act like adults.
About the Author
Darrin F. Coe holds a master's degree in professional psychology and is the father of two pre-school boys.