Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Positive parenting

I don't believe in physical discipline of children of any kind and ran across this article this morning from the Philippines. I hadn't realized October 19 was the Global Day of Action for the Elimination of Corporal Punishment of Children. Physical punishment is just sending the wrong message to children. It is teaching them hitting is OK and it is not. If a mother or father hits a child what lesson does that teach. If a mother hits her son is she not teaching the son that it is OK to hit others. If a woman hits a boy does that not tell the boy that hitting a female is OK, especially if they are also taught about equality of the sexes? It can be a very confusing method of so-called discipline. Boys are naturally more rambunctious than girls and it is not the kind of lesson they need. Ask any teacher who has to manage boys and girls which group requires the most energy to supervise. I have been a volunteer on class outings and even in lower grades boys are far more energetic and potentially mischevious. That is not a bad thing but it is the way we are born and socialized. We ought not to be hitting our children at all for any reason.

Yes - many of us were spanked and for those who went to catholic schools in the 50's we were also "strapped" by the nuns. A terrible lesson for children. All it did for boys was to ensure we put on our bravest face to show all the class how unafraid we were as the nun visciously beat us across the hands with her weapon, providing a humiliating experience for all to see.

Cebu Daily News / Opinion


Think Bits : Positive parenting

By Ricky Poca
Cebu Daily News

Posted date: October 28, 2008

I’m sure not many knew that October 19 was the Global Day of Action for the Elimination of Corporal Punishment of Children. Allow me to share with you what corporal punishment is and its alternative.

It’s time to stop hitting our children.

This piece is by Maria Naomi N. Poca, M.D., member of the Central Visayas Cluster for Child Protection & Restorative Justice.

Maria, a four-year-old girl, suddenly lets go of her mom’s hand and runs across the street. For this, mom whacks her bottom for doing a bad thing. Now, Maria can’t sit to enjoy her fries and hamburger because her bottom hurts.

Tony, a nine-year-old boy, returns home from school after his family has had dinner. Father hits him with a belt causing Tony’s body to turn black and blue all over.

May, who is 15 years old, spent the night drinking with her barkada. On learning about this the following day, her father cuts her long, beautiful hair unevenly to stop her from leaving the house.

Junior eagerly helps mom serve drinks to their guests. While doing so, he spills a drink on the newly cleaned floor. Mom scolds him as a dozen pairs of eyes look at them and a dozen pairs of ears hear the harsh words coming from mom’s mouth.

There are many more of these stories from children who have been hurt and harmed by their loved ones. Children have been slapped, kicked, burned, choked, beaten, pinched, whipped, had their ears twisted, threatened, terrorized, ridiculed, cursed, belittled, etc. all because they behaved badly, disobeyed their parents or authorities, failed to perform tasks or chores to the satisfaction of adults, or because they did not listen to what the adults had just told them.

The infliction of such physical or emotional pain by adults on children because of an offense that they had committed is called corporal punishment. It is the use of physical force with the intention of causing some degree of pain or discomfort no matter how light or the use of humiliation, denigration or threats is practiced by adults for the purpose of disciplining, training or controlling the child.

Treating children this way must stop. Children do not benefit from corporal punishment. It hurts them physically and emotionally, leaving them with feelings of fear, pain and confusion. Children only remember such punishment as a painful experience.

Corporal punishment is harmful to children’s health and development. Its use only perpetuates violence in society as it teaches children to resolve conflicts by using violence and to believe that it is justifiable for strong people or groups to use violence against the vulnerable and powerless. Furthermore, corporal punishment is an ineffective means of disciplining children as it does not teach or give them guidelines. It does not help them learn self-discipline and to take responsibility for their actions.

More importantly, corporal punishment is a violation of children’s human rights. It violates the child’s rights to dignity, physical integrity and equal protection under the law, the very same rights that adults demand and enjoy.

What, then, should adults do to children who misbehave, are “hardheaded,” commit a mistake or disobey an adult while affording them respect and equal protection from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment? The answer is, POSITIVE DISCIPLINE.

Positive discipline is an approach to parenting that teaches children rules, values and good behavior that respect their rights and the rights of others. It is a technique that guides children’s behavior at the same time treating them with respect by listening to them and encouraging their participation in learning. Children learn more through cooperation and encouragement than through conflict and punishment.

The aim of positive discipline is to provide long-term solutions that develop children’s self-discipline and life-long skills. It is about teaching nonviolence, empathy, self-respect, human rights and respect for others.

The use of positive techniques in rearing and educating children will help them grow to be responsible and caring citizens as children are given the venue to learn, think for themselves, think of others and take responsibility for their actions.

Positive discipline is definitely not permissive parenting. In positive discipline, unacceptable behavior is not permitted to continue as the child’s attention to the negative behavior is called by the parents. The child is made to understand the harmful effects of such behavior on others, on property and on the child him/herself. The child and the parent discuss the consequences of the child’s action and the steps that could be taken to repair the harm that was done. Both decide on what will happen if the negative behavior is repeated or not corrected. Children say that such process where he/she is listened to and allowed to participate in decision-making encourages them to do better by not committing the same mistake in the future.

Maria’s Mom could have discussed with Maria what would happen to her if she suddenly crossed a street. Maria would not have only learned about looking right and left before crossing the street; her confusion as to where “right” or “left” is would have also lessened.

The fathers of Tony and May could have told their children how sickly worried they were as they had not gone home before dark. May’s father could have discussed the dangers of drinking at such a young age. With these actions, Tony and May would have felt their father’s love for them.

Junior’s mom could have gently said, “That’s okay, son, accidents do happen. Be careful next time. Please mop the floor before someone slips on it.” (Mom knows she, too, is not perfect.)

Let’s all stop hurting our children and begin a positive and caring relationship with them starting today. This may just be the answer to peace in our country and the world.

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