I had a terrific experience yesterday followed by a very different one and I want to share them both.
I took my kids to the pediatrician for their flu shots yesterday. My youngest, Phoebe, is medically fragile and the flu could well kill her so we are all careful about shots. The nurse took the girl’s history and said that since Phoebe has terrible asthma she needed the shot while Karen, who is medically healthy, could have the nasal spray. Karen thought for a minute and said she would take the shot too as it would be easier for Phoebe if she saw her sister get the shot and could see it was not a big deal. You have to know that Karen hates shots with a passion. It was such a brave, kind and generous act, I nearly cried.
Then last night, I went to Phoebe’s school open house. There was a little boy there with his mom and his behavior was atrocious. He was rude, disrespectful and intrusive. It was not because it was late and he was tired. He acts like this all of the time. His mom threatened, cajoled, bribed and reasoned with him. He laughed ate her. His mom looked embarrassed and said that it was so hard to keep him quiet as he was gifted and easily bored!!!
I am not a hitter or a yeller but I do think we may have done our kids a disservice when we made spanking a child such a crime. I had to wonder what would happen to this little guy in a crisis. What if his mom said to run (fire, flood, danger) and he argued? What if he demanded an explanation rather than knowing that when they say for me to do something, I need to do it. NOW! I also wonder about life in a world where he is not always going to get what he asks for. How long will he scream and whine before he understands that the world may not revolve around what he wants. I know I will hear a lot of negative feedback about this but I am going to stick my neck out here. What if mom had taken him to the bathroom and told him in a calm voice that if his behavior did not improve he would be taken outside and receive a spanking and then she followed up? I don’t know for sure. I am guessing that a swat on his fanny might have removed the humor from the situation for him.
I should add that I teach behavior management classes and I never recommend spanking. I have also raised many dozens of kids (I am a foster parent) without ever laying a hand on them in anger. However, I do think it is necessary for kids to know that there is a limit to what behavior you are going to tolerate. I am a big believer in the consequences of one’s actions being the best discipline. If you forget your homework and mom brings it to school twice a week you are teaching a lesson, the wrong one but a lesson non-the-less. If you don’t get your clothes in the hamper you don’t have clean socks. If you don’t eat the beans you don’t get the cookie. If you act up in public you will not be taken out. If you push me to the limit, you will get a swat on the bum. Clear and to the point.
We have created a child centric society in some ways and in others, a very child harming one. We give our kids lots of stuff but none of our time. We teach them to speak Chinese in preschool but not how to speak kindly to their siblings. We teach them to respect money but not to respect their parents. They are exposed to media that displays rude, arrogant behavior as cool and portrays parents as bumbling and easily manipulated. We sell to them and are dismayed when they buy into it.
We have to do a better job. Our kids need to meet the challenges of the future with discipline and grit. They can not afford to think the world will change to suit them.