Baby Ray, blog, Musings, Musings/thoughts, Parenthood, Teaching/Education

Spare the Rod and Raise your Child

14 Sep , 2017  

I am not the most patient of people, as my long suffering husband would know lol. Aligned with my general impatience, I also used to firmly believe in “spare the rod and spoil the child”. After all, striking a child is the fastest and easiest way to make him listen and comply. I was brought up that way myself, and I didn’t turn out half bad, did i?

Ahh the classic argument of, “I did this, nothing bad happened therefore it’s ok/good to do this.” Many people use this argument (GAH!) and it’s a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I mean, you could eat rat poison and if nothing fatal happens, it doesn’t mean that eating rat poison is ok/good or that it doesn’t kill. Sheesh. That argument is INVALID guys. It can’t even be termed as an argument cuz it’s rubbish logic.

Oops, I digress.

But it’s true you know. Hitting a child IS the fastest way to get things done the way we deem right, albeit with some screams and tears along the way. Nothing works quite like the PROMISE of PAIN to get a child to comply.

But… But… But…

What if the tables were turned though, and we were that child being struck?

Just imagine – What if our boss hit us because we disagreed with him/her? What if our parents slap us because we talked back to them or were deemed to have disobeyed their wishes (erps, I’m definitely guilty of this)?

Over time, would you learn to shut up and crawl into your own world, because it doesn’t pay to disagree with higher authorities? Would you start to hide things/your views from your boss/parents because there is simply no merit in sharing them?

Would you be angry? Indignant? Meek?

I would.

When violence is used on a child often enough, they learn to quickly fear the act that caused the violence. Thus is the rule of CAUSE and EFFECT. Blind obedience without thought.

 

Lessons kids learn when hit

They will learn compliance without question.

They will learn NOT to think for themselves.

They will learn to HIDE things.

They will learn meekness.

They will learn that authority is power, and power can lead to bullying.

They will learn that their opinions/thoughts aren’t valued and will be suppressed when incongruent with higher authorities.

They will learn that parents aren’t a safe haven to turn to, but a volcano that can erupt at any time, a place to be cautious of.

Is this what we want to teach our kids? Is obedience truly the cherished value it is made out to be by the older generations?

Do we want to be raising mindless little people who have no thoughts, no will and no backbone of their own? What happens when they become adults and continue to take orders from others without thinking, just because we’ve raised them to be that way? Are we going to chide them for being pushovers in adulthood, when we are the sole cause for their passivity? Do we want robots going through the motions of daily life, or do we want active thinkers who understand the WHYS and HOWS of things, rather than just follow, follow, follow?

How to smack this little cutie? LOL. Pic for attention. Irrelevant to post hurhur

Story of my niece and I

Years ago before marriage happened, with no child of my own and a toddler niece to dote on, I interacted with her without any form of violence, obviously. So whenever she was committing an undesirable action, I had to use ways other than hitting her to make her listen. To help her understand why her actions were undesirable and come to her own conclusion that she should stop doing them.

So I spoke to my niece. Listened to her. Understood her viewpoint. Rationalized with her. And where necessary, be stern and firm with her. With the absence of violence, it opened my eyes to new ways of interaction with young kids, and helped me to understand that hitting a child is not the only way to make them obey. That meaningful and purposeful interaction can happen. That little children, when respected, learn to respect in turn. She wasn’t the only one learning. I was, too.

I learnt that if I explained to her why she could not do things a certain way, or why it was wrong of her to do certain things, it was easier for her to comply without tears. In giving her my time and patience, she understood the general gist of the message I was trying to get across to her. In putting the decision in her hand (while heavily directing her down a particular path), she had ownership over her action and decision. She effectively became a thinker, a higher functioning kid than merely an obeyer.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that she will not repeat those ‘bad’ actions or become an instant angel just because we adults speak respectfully. Kids are still kids; they do not have the developed neurological and emotional ware for them to handle their emotions masterfully, unlike us adults, and yet, we still lose it, much less them. Im not making up excuses for ill behaved kids. Their brains being immature is a fact.

It’s just that instead of a top down, win-lose approach, I adopted another approach where my niece and I were a team, and surely, that’s a winning formula to getting things done. It’s what we learn in all those corporate courses, and surely we can apply our knowledge successfully on the domestic front!

Thus, by the time I had my own kids, I no longer believed in “spare the rod and spoil the child”. If I can only make my child obey me because of fear and oppression, what happens to those times when I’m no longer there to enforce them? Will I be my child’s confidante or a figure of fear and oppression? I have a choice, as do you. And I choose not to be Kim Jong Un and lord over my hapless spawns (or at least I try to keep my KJU behavior to a minimum LOL)

 

Instant Gratification or Long Term Success?

Rome wasn’t built in a day. To get to the relationship we want with our kids, we gotta start ploughing the soil now.

Of course, the darker side promises instant gratification. I know that very well. In the early years of a child’s life, you may see the glorious successes of striking a child easily. Indeed, the notion of striking=obedience is very seductive. A child who is too young to retaliate, a child who will comply immediately if the other choice is being struck.

However, in adopting the dark sweetness of hitting kids, we fail to acknowledge to ourselves that the success story of this obedient child who listens will gradually give way to that of an older child who hides his actions, actions that he knows his parents disapprove of, leaving his parents oblivious and… happy? Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it?

Ask yourself, what kind of relationship do you want with your kids?

When violence and being overly strict lead to secretive behaviors in our children

In my later teenage years, I’ve had front row seats to observe the effects of oppression on some of my friends who grew up in top down/strict households. Whatever their parents quashed unequivocally, they either rebelled or went underground. They hid things from their parents and did things that they believe their parents will disapprove of in secret. They lied blatantly without a shred of guilt, because they’ve closed off their hearts; “oh mom wouldn’t understand anyway. My friends understand me, but not mom, not dad.”

And that’s dangerous. The moment your kids shut you out, that’s it. In this highly connected world where danger lurks in the most unassuming of corners, you cannot possibly hope to keep your kids safe while having them shut you out. Your best bet to keep them safe in the long run is to befriend them now, and treat them with the same respect that you would want to be treated with.

This doesn’t mean that you lose your parental rights. This doesn’t mean that you don’t scold your kids or be firm with them. This doesn’t mean that they get their way all the time. Not at all. We can be our kids’ best friend and still be their parent at the same time.

 

Strategies to deal with misbehaving little adults

Here, I’ll share some strategies that I’ve read/self-developed and find useful when dealing with kids who are losing control of themselves:

(1) Calming down through tears: if a kid is crying, instead of stopping them immediately, let them calm down somewhat through their tears. If it gets too much and they continue to be hysterical (because they want attention or whatever), take them out of that situation (e.g. a departmental store or whatever) and bring them to someplace quieter.

Sometimes, crying it out helps the kids get through the storm of his emotions.

(2) Acknowledge their feelings. Describe their feelings or if they’re up to talking, ask them how they feel. When they express themselves, they have an outlet for their bubbling emotions and can better regulate their feelings. You feel better when you pour your distressed soul out to a trusted buddy too, don’t you?

(3) Listen to them. By this, I don’t mean hear them, but really listen and understand why they do the things they do. There have been a few occasions when I was only too ready to lose my temper at Ray for doing something I deemed was naughty, e.g. snatching a toy out of his brother’s hands, causing his brother to cry and wail (yes the small monkey is fiercely territorial of his stuff). When I took a step back to listen to him instead of launching into a tirade, I learnt that he was only trying to fix the broom that his brother broke, before returning it to him. Turns out that his intentions were good. If I had screamed at Ray, I would have lost a chance to really connect with him and tell him how he could have achieved the goal of doing something good in a better way.

(4) Help them to empathize. Do not shut them down and help them to think from another person’s Point of View. E.g. “I know you feel angry/sad/frustrated when your little brother keeps destroying the lego you’ve built. But do you think it’s right to push him away and cause him to cry? How would you like it if I were to push you just because I’m bigger than you?” (Erm, depending on my kids’ attitude, I may shove him to get my point across. This may or may not be a good way of teaching, but I personally think it helps him to empathize in a jiffy. Don’t quote me on this though hurhur)

(5) Hugs. I know, this runs counter to teaching a kid when he’s being ‘bad’. However, when a kid is hysterical, he’s locked up in his own world, unable to snap out of that hysterical mode easily. I assure you that the kid ain’t gonna be hearing anything, much less listening and absorbing all the golden lessons you’re preaching to him. So hug him and help him to calm down, and help yourself to calm down too. It’s all too easy to lose your temper when faced with a wailing kid who won’t shut the hell up, but when you feel the honesty of his heartbeat thumping furiously against his small, heaving chest wracked with sobs, you’ll find your rising temper ebbing away too. And that is a good thing for both of you.

Hugs make everything better. Always

Personally, although Point (4) is very lor soh, I find it extremely effective in helping the kid to see why he’s wrong (doesn’t mean it won’t be repeated. I’ve previously emphasized this). Heck, I even use it on Pips to get him to see MY POINT of view when we disagree on something LOL. It is effective when one is persistent and determined enough hahah.

I know I’m going on and on about not hitting children as if I am a modern day, self-anointed Mother Theresa who has boundless, gentle love for kids.

I know I am running the risk of appearing as if I’m on my specially customized moral high horse looking down on you mortal mothers committing your mortal errors.

Either that or I’m just a BIG FAT HYPOCRITE who only appears to be the most perfect of mothers but actually secretly whip out the canes at home and smack my kids left, right, center in places where sunlight doesn’t shine.

The truth is, (really lah) I’m not judging parents who strike their children. Back to the days before I had two kids, I’ve never once struck Ray (hold on, don’t spit on me just yet). He is my firstborn, my precious little boy, and outside of my work hours, I dedicated my love and patience to bringing him up as well as I could. In fact, I chided my mom for smacking Ray on his hands when he was being naughty.

Oh how the tides have turned! Being a mom of two has sorely stretched my patience over its limits many times, and knocked me abruptly off my high horse. I’ve since manhandled Ray (grabbing/holding him roughly by his arms), smacked him and allowed rage to course uncontrollably through my veins. Just earlier, I smacked him on his thighs because he wailed for me (he was supposed to nap) when I went outside the room for less than a minute, inadvertently waking up his baby brother. Phew. That took courage to admit on a public platform. But I’m only human, and I recognize my limits as an imperfect human mother and only then, will I be able to move on and strive to be a better mother.

 

We’re imperfect, and that’s okay

So it’s not that I’m a perfect mom, chiding you and all other moms for not being as perfect as me. I’m imperfect, and it does take some courage to squarely admit that about myself, to myself. I’m not about to condone my actions or yours and say that imperfection is beauty or all that nonsense crap. However, we can and must always strive to be better. So even if I lose my temper at my kids this time and strike them, I acknowledge that I can be a better mom the next time, and that there are better ways of teaching the kids apart from using violence. Just as we impart life lessons to our kids, we ourselves must never stop learning.

I’m here today, to plead an argument for speaking to a child as we would to an adult, so that they may understand and navigate this world better. That in comprehension, they may avoid wrong/dangerous actions. Of course, there will be times when they lapse, just as we adults do, so let us be the bigger person and remind them as best as we can.

Let us, in our imperfections, continually strive to be better parents and role models for our kids, and let them have a better chance at life than we did. We don’t want to be raising robots that live out absolute and mindless obedience only due to fear, do we? So today, and for all those other times that we fail in our ability to control our emotions, let us feel the guilt invading our being, and work towards being better parents.

Sincerely,

Mamajas

P.S. Strangely, I do not lose my patience with Sarang as I do with Ray. I am pretty sure it’s the difference in mentality with which I view the two. Because Ray is older and can be reasoned with, I perceive him as a little adult and expect much more from him than his little brother, who’s just a little baby. Interesting how a paradigm shift in mentality can mean a world of difference. Instead of viewing him as a little adult, perhaps I can treat him with the same respect as a little adult deserves, while recognizing that he’s but only 3 years old, with only a smidgen of experience in this whole wide world.

 

Do follow the Jashuat family as we zip around town and the world (currently, we are living in London now, which is perfect for our souls that yearn to travel yay!) on facebook and we will share with you our grandmother stories, insta adventures, giveaways, reviews, contests, parenting tips, lifehacks and more!

You may be interested in some of my other articles here:

(1) Taiwan Travel (broken up into a few posts covering Taipei, Taichung)

(2) Urgh I frigging lost my wedding band, fml!

(3) The very real disease that’s killing more and more mothers

(4) Milestone Challenge: teaching baby to crawl and why it’s important

(5) 10 surefire ways to increase breast milk!

(6) Is it ok to love your kid way more than your spouse?

 

 

 

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