Parents - Do you feel overwhelmed?

Dogs are rational.

Why would you think that negative training works for humans? Does beating a child produce better outcomes than positive reinforcement? I believe the evidence shows that is not the case; in fact, I believe the opposite is true, just like it is for dogs.

Robear wrote:
Dogs are rational.

Why would you think that negative training works for humans? Does beating a child produce better outcomes than positive reinforcement? I believe the evidence shows that is not the case; in fact, I believe the opposite is true, just like it is for dogs.

Ah, so now we're talking about whether negative training is less efficient than positive training. That is a much different assertion from "negative training doesn't work".

As to why I think that negative training works, do you remember that time from your childhood when you did that thing and your parents yelled at you for it, and you didn't do it again?

I sure do.

Would it have been better for my parents to employ a positive model to teach me that? Sure, I'll buy that.

Frankly, I believe that you need both. You need to build up self-esteem but you also need to instill respect and perhaps a little fear. And let's not forget, pain is an excellent teacher. You can explain to that toddler that the stove is hot until you run out of breath. They won't truly get it until they touch it for themselves.

Now, full disclosure, as a parent of a child who has experience a myriad of traumas and abuses, corporal punishment has been removed from my parenting toolbelt. But there are times when I think it would be far more effective than some of the techniques that we use with out son.

As a piece of advice, my mother taught me that past the age of 7, corporal punishment ceases to work on any acceptable level. She's a big believer in corporal punishment, but she acknowledges (from long years of observing children from many families) that 7 is about the upper limit at which it does anything useful.

She was careful to impress this upon us as well. Seven was the age you "graduate" from that sort of discipline and face a much tougher one: the consequences of your own actions.

That perspective falls in line with mine, Larry. I worked in a daycare that required waivers signed by parents allowing us to use corporal punishment. While the practice was anathema to me at first, it took exactly one time to realize a firm swat on the diaper kept toddlers from running into the street better than literally anything else.

My mother was a public school teacher for a Tondo slum so she had the benefit of a lot of observation. Her stipulated age was both flexible (some children mature faster) and empirical.

From a theoretical perspective, it makes sense. Toddlers have difficulty associating cause with effect, especially when the two don't follow closely. At age 7, I expect children to have stronger reasoning and cognition, as well as abstract morality. These two together means that asking them to own their mistakes is both reasonable and more effective.

Seth wrote:
That perspective falls in line with mine, Larry. I worked in a daycare that required waivers signed by parents allowing us to use corporal punishment. While the practice was anathema to me at first, it took exactly one time to realize a firm swat on the diaper kept toddlers from running into the street better than literally anything else.

The only thing that got my son to stop his game of running away from me and towards/into the street was exactly that.

There has to be a balance and I believe that it is healthy if children have a little bit of fear of their parents. That little bit of fear helps children understand boundaries when the parents are not immediately present and it is the beginning of the development of respect.

Edit to add: Any parent that tries to be "friends" with their child should be flogged and forced to undergo parenting classes. There's plenty of time for that after you have worked hard to raise a well-adjusted, respectful adult who understands boundaries.


As to why I think that negative training works, do you remember that time from your childhood when you did that thing and your parents yelled at you for it, and you didn't do it again?

I sure do.

I don't think yelling accomplished much for me beyond my making sure they didn't see it happen again. Understanding why it was not acceptable, on the other hand, was something I took very seriously, because as a child I very much wanted to demonstrate that I could control myself without someone threatening me. That meant that I was allowed to make *choices*, which was very important to me. I found at a young age that when I behaved well, I could do things that the kids around me could not, and I really valued that.

Nevin73:

Highly recommend Jacob Abbott's book. I'm not sure how well you can adapt it to your situation, but it's something to think about.

While I am not against the use of corporal punishment, I also only ever had to use it once (and my kids are now past the age where I can use that). I confess to not being very adept or experienced in its application. That said, my impression from my mother's ways with children (she mentored a lot of kids around the neighborhood - something like 20+), the key to establishing respect is not fear but consistency. That is, the same activity the kid does has to merit the exact same response from the parent every single damn time. Have to pee? Tough. Hold it in. Too sleepy to supervise time out? Tough. Make coffee. Too angry? Time yourself out. Implement response at a better time.

This may not make sense in terms of making life easier, but IMX, the initial hard time pays off very soon in terms of easier handling and household harmony. Once again, I've been envied for having "naturally tractable children;" my experiences in child-rearing may tend to Easy Mode. I know you have it harder, man. I want to help out.

Something that caught my eye on a parenting blog yesterday was the blogger's observation that many parents do not pay attention to their children - they chat with their friends while strolling along on a museum visit that's ostensibly for the kids, but do not engage their youngsters. I suppose this would be what counts as "children should be seen, not heard."

This is anathema to our culture. It's rude to be with a person and ignore them; even if they're your worst enemy, some amount of acknowledgement is customary. Kids are encouraged to speak and be heard (especially because they're often very funny) so long as they pay proper respect to their elders. No cutting in on conversations, and no rude language. Otherwise, we like hearing the kids talk.

Thoughtfulness and empathy, says the blogger go a long way. We think of this as simply being polite. If I'm going to wait an hour in an office with a kid, I'd be pissed and bored if there weren't any reading materials. I'd probably bring one myself, just to be sure. It only makes sense that I would think about my kid's entertainment as well, right?

Robear:

Interesting thing. In Filipino culture, we have a saying, "Asar talo." It means that if you get angry or pissed, you lose. I guess you might say that trolling other people very hard is a pastime around here. If you show anger, you lose face, so your enemies have a vested interest in making you angry.

My mother had a famously short temper. She's pretty fierce about it, too. She yelled at everyone in her youth, and she often regretted it. We kind of feared her wrath, but we also often saw that she was easily manipulated when she was angry, and prone to rash decisions.

We feared my father the more, though. He never got angry that you could tell, but when he said a thing was a thing, he was completely implacable. One time, he threatened to leave behind (to the nanny) any kid later than he was at the car. As it happened, the usual suspect was late (not me). Got left behind. He rued his tardiness something fierce, but no amount of tears would move my father. We brought home some ice cream for him. My dad said it was to sooth the hurt. He was never late after that, though.

My respect for my dad is great, but it's from both his consistency and his generosity. He never forbade us anything unless it was super-important; but when it was, his will was iron.

Every child is different. Even among our three kids, each responds best to a unique approach. Positive reinforcement works by far the best for encouraging good behavior, and techniques like redirection tend to work for most bad behavior. Timeouts work reasonably well at times too, though I think that's more about giving the kid a chance to calm down than about punishing them.

Regarding punishment in general, the consequence for bad behavior really need to be established beforehand or the kid just ends up surprised and confused. And until maybe age 5, it really only works if you catch the kid in the act and punish them immediately. Younger than that and they really don't seem to make the connection between their punishment and what they did to deserve it. Dogs are the same way.

As for corporal punishment specifically, I've only run into one instance with my kids where it seemed appropriate and effective: biting. Our youngest daughter was a biter (only of siblings, never friends thank goodness) and she got all of our kids biting each other at one point. At their young age, timeouts and such weren't terribly effective at correcting behavior, and it was something that absolutely had to stop immediately. We almost had to take our son to the doctor one day for a bite he got on the face. Good times.

In the vein of making life easier for all of us, how do you guys feel about this:

You're allowed to hide from your kids.

I actually have the "balls" to not have to do this. When I'm not up to it and it's not that important, I just tell the kids not to bother me. I tell them not to bother their mother, too, when she's nearing her limit and needs a break. My mother did this as well: between 12 pm and 2 pm she would have her nap and god help the kid who makes her get up from it. The rest of the day, every day, she was hands-on, but that time was her time.

LarryC wrote:
In the vein of making life easier for all of us, how do you guys feel about this:

You're allowed to hide from your kids.

I actually have the "balls" to not have to do this. When I'm not up to it and it's not that important, I just tell the kids not to bother me.


Lol. What do you think hiding from kids means? It doesn't have to mean physically (at least IMO); it's taking time for yourself even though the kids are around.

Oh, and I'm all for it.

I wish you guys had clarified what "hide from the kids" meant before I set up a fortress of solitude in the attic.

Then again, it's still useful.

LouZiffer wrote:
I wish you guys had clarified what "hide from the kids" meant before I set up a fortress of solitude in the attic.

Then again, it's still useful.

Just FYI, there's a 15% restocking fee on all murder-holes.

LouZiffer wrote:
I wish you guys had clarified what "hide from the kids" meant before I set up a fortress of solitude in the attic.

Then again, it's still useful.

Don't get me wrong; "hiding from the kids" can be physically hiding. It just doesn't have to be.

My challenge is not getting frustrated with a toddler that's just learning how to push my buttons. For example, looking me straight in the eye as he slows pours his milk out on the floor. My blood pressure is rising just thinking about it.

This is hardest in public. At home, it's relatively easy. If he starts to act out, I can generally play it cool and take our time with whatever is the issue. However, when in public, if I take the same tack (not chasing him when he runs away, not acquiescing to tantrums), I hate being seen as "that parent" - the one that can't control their kids and lets them do whatever they want.

I know - who gives a f*ck about what others think, right? However, that social pressure is strong and I'm striving to find that middle ground.

I used time out aggressively during the toddler stage. It never escalated into tantrums. The iron rules were "No crying in public unless you're physically injured," and "Do what I say with no delay or argument." Any kid who violated either of these iron-clad rules instantly got to take a trip with me to the parking lot where we stayed until the crying was over. It's too dangerous where I live to take out kids who do not obey instantly. Kidnappers can nab kids in seconds.

Other than that, I made a special point to be extra lenient when it wasn't important, even when it killed me inside. Past a certain point, I just mentally threw my hands up inside my head and said, "f*ck it all." Once more, I seem to have been stuck with Easy Mode kids, but I found them extremely compliant once they knew that nothing would stop the trip to the parking lot if they provoked it. They test you, too. Like they choose to disobey when they know it would be really inconvenient for you. You gotta hold fast. It was super boring quite a few times (doing nothing in the middle of nowhere), but totally worth it. Also, I had the luxury of always having the wife to tag-team.

I totally subscribe to Abbott's advice here. "Be indulgent when it doesn't matter. Be consistent when it does."

Trashie wrote:
I hate being seen as "that parent" - the one that can't control their kids and lets them do whatever they want.

Kids will be kids, there's no way around that. But I think it's important they learn early what is and isn't acceptable behavior in public as well as at home. As a parent I think you have to be prepared to pick up and leave immediately if the kid starts acting out. Not acting in a proper manner in public means you don't get to go out.

One time when my oldest was younger we were at the grocery store. We were getting the last item and she threw a fit for whatever reason (she was probably sick of being at the store). I picked her up, abandoned the full grocery cart, and we went home. It sucks when there's something you need to do, but I won't drag a screaming kid with me on errands for pretty much anything. Now that time outs are working, we'll generally do time outs in the car for unacceptable behavior instead.

Time outs work well. They also give you cool off time when you might otherwise give in to your anger.

Don't give in to your anger... Anger leads to the dark side. (Sorry, just had to say that).

Thankfully, we haven't had many tantrums in public, if at all, so I haven't had to deal with that.but it's definitely something I worry about. How to handle it without being *that* parent.
At home, we just ignore him when he starts throwing a tantrum because he's frustrated and didn't get what he wanted. We also resort to timeouts when certain behavior is unacceptable or dangerous. He isn't two yet, so only time will tell if it's truly effective.
I try to avoid corporal punishment because most of the time, it's when I get angry or he just pushes my buttons. And I get the feeling that at his age, it's not working. He'll just look at me, with this hurt and confused look on his face.

I think you need to establish communication first before getting on with the corporal punishments, especially if it's not super obvious. I found sign language especially useful for this. It worked for us. Started in on it when they were 6 months. They usually acquire an impressive vocabulary of signs by the first year.

Disclaimer: only had to use it once, when youngest was 4. #gotlucky #kidswithpreinstalledOS

Agreed. It's difficult when communication isn't firmly established because stuff gets lost in translation. Ours is still struggling with language, but he has other ways of making himself understood (most notably taking us by the hand or skirt and dragging us to what he wants, it's cute when it isn't annoying ). I learned about baby sign language a bit belatedly, but I'm definitely going to look into it for baby #2. As it is, there are a few basic "signs" I use, like wagging my finger as I say "no", but it's rudimentary at best. I've seen friends and their son (who just turned two) use it and quite efficiently, so I'm definitely a convert.
So yeah, definitely not big on the corporal punishment right now.
The fact that the only slap I got that I remember was one I believed should've gone to my sister instead of me probably has something to do with it. XD

Sign language does help a lot, since being unable to communicate can frustrate kids to tantrum stage. In the US there's a DVD series I like a lot called Signing Time. The woman who developed it is a professional musician and composer whose first child is deaf. The songs are cute and catchy and the series is really fun. My 3 year old often asks to watch them even though he speaks. By the way, American ASL and French ASL have a lot in common, since it was a French man who introduced ASL to the US in the late 19th century.