September 16, 2009

When a Parent's 'I Love You" Means 'Do as I Say' by Alfie Kohn   And my response: 

This is why I think it is so important to teach children self control and polite manners by the time they are 2 or 3.  I was a fairly heavy handed dictator with my toddlers.  They were, quite simply, not allowed to be rude.  I used logic, time outs, and (hopefully) example to teach them.  The more consistent parents are, the faster kids will get it.   Get the job done while they are tiny and move on.   Kind of like "All their shots while their tots."

Children who reach the age of rationality who have already learned self control and how to behave politely just don't really require much external discipline at all.  My kids barely remember time-out.  Misbehavior is barely a discussion.  When we make mistakes, we learn from them.  And we all make mistakes. 

This idea that children have to be disciplined for years and years and years, that children are difficult by their very nature, is absurd to me.  And it is insulting to the intelligence of children.  (Most children.)  Why should anyone still be trying to manipulate a child old enough to discuss behavior rationally?  Manipulation is an ugly word.  But what else shall we call it - imposing my maternal will and authority upon my children in their best interest?  It is our job to raise children who know how to function (which is to say, behave) in our society.  If you can't teach manners and remain loving at the same time, your methods of discipline should wait while you go get a bunch of therapy.  Because your message is garbled and absurd, and you likely have a hole in your heart.  If your kids are older than 4 and still rude, go get some therapy to figure out a) why your parenting is ineffective or b) why you are teaching rude behavior. 


Mommylion said...

Great article. Very interesting.

Mwa said...

Oh, I loved your take on that. I've been struggling with that same article (I discuss it at - I'd love to hear what you think about it) and I can't quite get it straight in my mind.

What I particularly liked was your idea that after about three we should be moving on from time-outs. I still use them occassionally on my five year old and haven't been happy with that. I think I will deal with problems differently in the future.

Katherine said...

Hi Mwa. Thanks. I was afraid this sounded kind of snotty - like, MY kids were perfectly well behaved by the time they were two. Of course, that is not true. But you don't often hear people say that it is possible to put in your time when the children are quite little and be done with discipline issues. Not to say I never asked a five year old if maybe they didn't need a time out. And I PUT MYSELF IN TIME OUT quite often, in those years. But the idea of getting their behavior set while they are little bitty children is lost on most modern parents. So, Kohn's article hit me funny. Kids whose parents are still struggling with basic behavior issues when the kids are old enough to remember, are .... what? Lost? Fooling themselves? Too busy? What? Jeepers, just show up with a decent boundary, already. Then you don't have to struggle when they are older. hummm, obviously, this is rant material for me. I'm just repeating myself. But, this issue makes me nutty. And so that's what bothered me about the article. NO! I'm not done ranting. Parents aren't taught to get the job done early. They are taught to send kids to daycare and let teachers do the job. There is SO MUCH PRESSURE TO SEND YOUR KIDS TO DAYCARE AND SCHOOL. SO. MUCH. PRESSURE. That's what parents are taught - that endlessly extended adolescence is normal. That all kids are bratty. That parenting is hopeless. To just get the kids to school so they can be "socialized".

I can't talk about this any more. It makes me nutso.

Katherine said...

No wait, there is more. Also, what about setting your kids up to behave well? I think this is the most ignored part of modern parenting. Kids need lots of sleep. LOTS OF DOWN TIME. A consistent home life. LOTS OF REALLY GOOD FOOD. Care. Caring. HOURS OF QUIET PLAY TIME. More food. More quiet time.

I think most children are over stimulated, in our society. It sets them up to be cranky and bratty. Don't set them up to be cranky and bratty and most of the time THEY WILL BE HAPPY.

Now. Am I done now? Now I'm done.

Katherine said...

I was feeling guilty about ranting here. Then I saw this:

GET A FUCKING CLUE PEOPLE. IT IS CALLED PARENTING. GET IT DONE. Then spend several beautiful years at home with your kids quietly and lovingly reinforcing it. For the love of GOD. Executive Function is difficult to teach... Maybe THAT'S BECAUSE ITS A PARENTING ISSUE.

Katherine said...

Worth mentioning that the article goes on to say that science is discovering that play is the most important work for children. (Except they won't go quite that far or speak quite that plainly.) Oh, ya think? Children learn while they play? Hum...interesting idea. Maybe that's called unschooling?