A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

Before You Punish, Listen to Your Children

I don’t mind so much if my kids wrestle and play around. Pillow fighting is okay, until someone gets hurt, of course. But unprovoked hitting is off limits. In fact, if I see too much of that, wrestling with Dad gets completely cut out until they can learn the difference.

So, when Ryan, my then 5-year-old, started hitting, chasing, picking at and just in general being a nuisance to Tessa’s, my 10-year-old, friend, I knew it was time to act. My natural reaction was to pull out the rod. After all, he was being rebellious and ignoring the clear rules of the house. But, I pressed the pause button. What was causing my generally sweet little boy to become this vicious monster every time John came over to the house?

I sat him down and began to question him. At 5, he was not exactly a great articulator of feelings and internal struggles. But by the time we were done, I knew what was going on. At 10, some of Tessa’s friends are allowed to walk in the neighborhood and go to each other’s homes. At 5, none of Ryan’s friends were allowed to do the same. Tessa seemed to have friends come over all the time and Ryan never did. Further, when Tessa’ friends came over, they didn’t want to play with Ryan. He was just trying to get their attention.

Now, did Ryan need to be disciplined for hitting. Of course. But there was more to it. He also needed to be educated in how to make friends. I’m sure you recognize that the more Ryan picked, chased and hit, the less Tessa and John wanted anything to do with him. It was a vicious cycle. I could certainly spank Ryan for hitting, but that wouldn’t actually deal with the real problem. He needed to be taught how to be a friend. If all I did was discipline the hitting, Ryan would only ever be frustrated and friendless. Now we are working on appropriate ways to be friends, have friends and make new friends. 

By no means is he a master at Dale Carnegie characteristics, but he’s better.

The long and short of this is before you simply discipline and punish your children, you should stop and figure out what is going on. You can still provide the negative reinforcement for the unacceptable action and also fix what is really causing the problem.



September 16, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Family Life, Disciplining Children, Raising Kids | , , , | Leave a comment