Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is shouting the new spanking?

The New York Times has an article about shouting being the new spanking (via Instapundit):

One study that did take a look at the topic — a paper on the “psychological aggression by American parents” published in the Journal of Marriage and Family in 2003 — found that parental yelling was a near-universal occurrence. Of 991 families interviewed, in 88 percent of them a parent acknowledged shouting, screaming or yelling at the kids at least once (though it didn’t specify how many did it more often) in the previous year.

“We are so accustomed to this that we just think parents get carried away and that it’s not harmful,” said one of the study’s lead authors, Murray A. Straus, a sociologist who is a director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. “But it affects a child. If someone yelled at you at work, you’d find that pretty jarring. We don’t apply that standard to children.”

Call in the troops, 88% of parents in a study dared to shout or yell at a kid at least once in a previous year. Does anyone out there find the extreme concern over this behavior by parents concerning itself? While yelling or shouting in an inconsistent manner is not a good way to discipline, yelling to show displeasure once in a while is hardly a sin. Screaming just to scream is not helpful but asking in an angry tone why a child did something wrong seems, well...normal. A parent's displeasure can sometimes teach little Jane or Johnnie how to act--and sometimes, gasp! that might call for a displeased tone.

Spanking is considered child abuse, now shouting is frowned upon. Is there anything parents can do to correct their child that places like the New York Times don't despise, besides timeout which merely teaches a child that hitting his or her sibling gets the same lame punishment as making a mess on the floor?

Update: The Last Psychiatrist has more on Shouting vs. Spanking.


Blogger Erik said...

I'm really left wondering if the other 12% are lying or just what their parenting style is? Or are those 12% the rich ones with nannies who do all the parental duties and therefore never have any need to yell at the child?

4:29 PM, October 22, 2009  
Blogger kulibali said...

The Last Psychiatrist makes the point that being too calm as parents is actually counter-productive, because it does not provide correctly-graded feedback to the child as to the seriousness of their behavior. If we remain calm in the face of varied levels of bad behavior, and then finally snap and yell over something trivial, that teaches the child that discipline is arbitrary.

We should rather try to show varying levels of affect in response to varying behavior.

4:44 PM, October 22, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Shouting occasionally to exclaim concern or displeasure can be an effective parenting tool. However, when 95% or more of your communication with your child is in screaming mode I will wonder about its effectiveness. The teen girl who lives behind me has been brought up by a family of screamers and now she's dropped out of school and rarely spends time at home. The girl's current choices may be caused by the fact that her mother is a loud terrifying screamer and not so nice.

6:33 PM, October 22, 2009  
Blogger Ern said...

Judith Rich Harris, among others, claims that, unless parental behavior is positively abusive (along the lines of locking a child in a closet for days at a time), it makes no difference in how a child turns out. I've yet to see much evidence that she's wrong. We know that heredity isn't the only thing, but we don't really know what the rest of it is.

You'd think that the New York Times would mention things like that, since even people like me (I'm a software developer) know them.

On second thought, you wouldn't think that at all, would you?

8:25 PM, October 22, 2009  
Blogger Dr.D said...

I wonder if this is not a parental response to the abnormal constraints currently imposed on parents by society with regard to parenting, specifically the denial of corporal punishment. When the parent had the option to give the child a couple of well placed swats, there was little need to raise the voice, but today that may result in the state stepping in and removing the child from the home. Shouting may be all that is left.

8:51 PM, October 22, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shouting is the new spanking in another sense, too: you're not supposed to do it anymore, even if it works.

Yelling and shouting is also culturally dependent. Some ethnic groups are louder than others. The Norwegians and Swedes don't yell; they tsk tsk pasive aggressively when they express displeasure. When the Poles or the Italians are upset, you know. They also yell when happy, joyful, during jokes, while watching sports, while cooking dinner, or having a normal family meal. This does not mean that the Poles or Italians are yelling because they are angry.

The idea that "if someone yelled at you at work, you'd find it pretty jarring" is really without evidence. Lots of jobs, lots of bosses, lots of environments are perfectly suited to a yelling boss; others might not be suited to it, but it's tolerated. And again, a loud yelling boss doesn't necessarily mean a cowering employee.

I think the issue that's of course left out here is WHY are they yelling: are they yelling in frustration? rage? to be heard over the din of the TV, or from 4 rooms away? Verbal abuse that's demeaning is destructive; saying "you make me sick" is terrible. Saying "where are your shoes?" in a loud voice is not.

11:26 PM, October 22, 2009  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

Ahhh, the ivory tower residents speak.

While I agree with you (Helen) that yelling and screaming when appropriate is not necessarily a bad thing, I think many people in academics are living in an alternate reality.

In my experience, the parents who I know (including my own) have never used yelling and screaming in a consistent and appropriate manner. I've seen parents yell at children for simply being curious. I've seen parents yell at children for being playful. I've seen parents yell at children for simple accidents. I've seen parents yell at children for being needy (asking for food in one case).

The reality for many children is that there are many terrible parents out there. The reality is that there are simply many children who should have never been born, but, having been born, nonetheless deserve to be treated like children by loving parents rather than like siblings or strangers by people who have absolutely no business being parents.

I don't have any suggestions as for how intelligent, patient parents can or should respond to childrens' bad behavior. But, I do believe that the use of yelling and screaming by a good many parents, if what I've experienced growing up and seen since is in any way indicative of the experiences of many other children, is, in a huge percentage of cases, completely inappropriate. If my experiences and what I've seen hold true in a large percentage of cases, yelling and screaming should be viewed in the same light as spanking - a mostly unnecessary and undeserved assault on children who were, in many cases, simply doing what children do.

7:32 AM, October 23, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms. Harris does not say that it doesn't matter. What she says, whether you accept it or not, is that children get much of what they learn, do, etc from peers and not as much from parental influence as had been thought. In that sense, (assuming she is right) what a parent does or fails to do does not matter.

the article in this post if read in a positive way simply suggests that enlightened parents do not spank but many are constant screamers, and screaming as a method does little or not good.

9:27 AM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Doom said...

I don't think a parent can get a child's attention without shouting at times. It is the only way to differentiate something to be ignored and something that is more difficult to be ignored. I remember those days, and have great sympathy for my Mother's efforts. What sort of attention span I had, I can't be sure, but it had to be in league with that of a Goldfish, at least when she was talking.

Drats. I just realized, it is not much different with girlfriends. Then again, finding one who stays rational by the time she gets to the point of yelling might help. Bah!

And, yes, it bothers me that they obsess so. Do they realize that obsessing is much more dangerous to children than yelling or spanking? Just a hint, if they didn't.

9:27 AM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

The issue with raising your voice or spanking has a lot to do with how and when it is used. Obviously, lives are harmed and sometimes ruined by abuse. But lives are also harmed by neglect. Kids who are coddled do not learn to comply, kids who are terrorized do not learn that they are worthwhile and how to stand up for themselves.

Kids need consequences to aim them in the right direction. Parents who yell all the time terrorize or desensitize their kids. It is like music, if it is all at one level, it is often boring and innefective.

Too much of the bizarro parenting stuff I read comes from the completely mistaken belief that children are born good. I always wonder if they spent any time with 2 year olds.


9:31 AM, October 23, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the authors of this "study" do not have children.

9:49 AM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger The Cranky Tutor said...

Who are these people? Do they have children? How do their children behave? Does anyone else remember how Dr. Spock got nicely rich and famous writing books about child-rearing before he had kids, and that he had to change his philosophy when he did reproduce?

Spanking, done correctly, is not damaging to a child in the slightest. It becomes physical abuse when the parent loses his/her temper. Spanking in anger is bullying.

Shouting, done correctly is also not damaging. It becomes emotional abuse when the parent loses his/her temper. Shouting in anger is bullying as much as smacking the kid around is.

The problem here is the TEMPER of the parent. Losing your dignity, your sense of humor, and your understanding that children are as imperfect as you are, is when you get into trouble.

My guess is that people who categorize all spanking/shouting as abuse are people who have done so only when they've gotten so angry they couldn't see straight, because they believe that more permissiveness automatically equals better parenting.

9:58 AM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

There has never been any yelling in our house. Never. I have never even gotten truly angry at my kids. They are aged 3 and almost 5.

Never got angry.

Not once.

Why? Because I exert authority. I have reasonable expectations of them. And I expect them to live up to them. If they do not, there are consequences to pay. Immediately.

And the children trust me that I will live up to the consequences-- good ones and bad ones.

As a result, there is little serious misbehavior in our house.

So, there's no reason to ever get angry.

10:42 AM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

"loud terrifying screamer"

that pretty much describes the mother of my children...except that my children aren`t quite terrified of her any longer. mostly a little disappointed.

my boys are full blooded and willful at times, like any well loved, well fed teens....and occasionally you havd to yell at them to get thier attention.

but i`m yelling because it seems that i`ve lost thier attention briefly, and the next strategem will be more invasive, such as the loss of privelege, or somesuch...or i might have to yell to cover distance as they run.

but never is it a communication of irrational violence.

they know thier father is a benign dictator with a kind heart.

thier mother on the other hand is a rat-faced portuguese harpie who yells herself horse and then locks herself in the bedroom.

she would say to me after losing the plot, 'i wish i had daughters....."

not long after i left thier mother my oldest boy punched her as hard as he could. he was ten.

she told me that my boy didn`t respect her. i told her that respect is earned.

she respects him enough not to try the physical stuff with him any longer. though most times i call the yelling persists.

11:04 AM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

I agree with J. Bowen completely. Well said actually. Spanking is still necessary to discipline them, and then try to talk to them out of love and explain the reason for spanking. Yelling when angry means impatience.
Chicago Property Management

11:28 AM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger tweell said...

Sigh. We are all human individuals, and usually trying our best. It's amazing how much I don't know about childrearing after five children, but I did learn that there's no size fits all or even most method for discipline. We couldn't engage one daughter's attention without yelling, another would be reduced to tears, and a third believed that her behavior was vindicated, since she got yelled at. Timeouts, suspension of privileges and corporal punishment had an even wider range of results. You tailor your response to the individual and the correction needed. This is much easier said than done, and the many changes in children while they are growing up (along with the 'not fair' complaints) makes it even harder. Try your best, no guarantees given with parenting.

12:43 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Sloan said...

I've noticed a pattern with these sorts of studies. Whether the examined behavior is spanking, yelling, or whatever, there seems to be a tacit unwillingness on the part of the researchers to acknowledge that there are levels at which the behavior in question may have a positive effect. It's all or nothing with these people and their methodologies.

My parents were, and are, wonderful people who raised three rowdy boys that all grew up to be responsible adults with families of their own. And from time to time, they spanked their kids, and they also yelled at them. Thinking back, I can't think of a time when we received this kind of treatment when we really and truly didn't deserve it. Mom and Dad seemed to have the right touch: they knew when to raise their voice for maximum effect, and they knew when to apply the hand or the paddle in the same way. It was never overbearing, or cruel (although we no doubt thought it was at the time!), or done in a spirit of rage...anger, yes, but not unbridled hostility. There is a difference...a difference which ivory-tower academics seem to refuse to acknowledge.

Were my folks just perfect? No, but they were raised the same way, in a different time and place when maybe, just maybe, people had a better handle on just how kids needed to be treated in order to grow up with some sense of right, wrong, and simple propriety.

Part of the legacy that they have left with me is my desire to do as good a job of being a parent to my children as they were to me and my brothers. So far, it seems to have worked pretty well.

1:27 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Topher said...

"Why? Because I exert authority. I have reasonable expectations of them. And I expect them to live up to them. If they do not, there are consequences to pay. Immediately."

I coach kids, and I make sure to live by this. Raising your voice in anger gives the kids an adrenaline-induced fear of you, but it fades quickly and is subject to desensitization. I make sure they understand the expectations for behavior and know where their boundaries are. Then I can coach with a calm demeanor and use small punishments (the on-field equivalent of a quick spanking) to show I am serious without getting bent out of shape.

Boundaries are important, because getting loud with a player who doesn't know what he did wrong just teaches him that coach is emotionally unstable (he may not be, but that's all the kid can understand).

Too many people use anger (and its variant crying) as a way to enforce their will on those who have "displeased" them. It's manipulation and thus hollow.
A note about appearances: coaches, like parents, have lots of different styles, and those who assume yelling coaches are bad coaches or macho guys bullying children are off-base. It's just that some coaches express themselves differently, and using a loud voice _absent control or bullying tactics_ is simply a stylistic preference. The kids do well to learn how to accept someone else's intensity without taking it personally.

1:46 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Joe said...

How to deal with children varies widely between children. I get very annoyed by the notion that there is one way to discipline.

My oldest daughter called our bluff starting when she was an infant. Time outs, grounding, etc. simply didn't work with her. In the end, we just held on. (At sixteen, we finally got the weapon we needed--her driver's license. Grounding her from the car was the end of the world for her.)

Her younger sister was, and still is, the opposite. Our youngest is extremely sensitive to discipline. So much so, we've rarely had to actually do it!

The boys are in the middle--the trick with the youngest was to ground him from the computer and his electronic toys. He hated that.

Now my oldest has a girl and we've learned that when she's about to do something wrong, you say her name loud and sharp and it generally works. Sometimes you need to slap her hand.

I'll bet that our next grandchild is completely different. That's the way of it.

1:50 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Henry said...

Toby wrote: A note about appearances: coaches, like parents, have lots of different styles, and those who assume yelling coaches are bad coaches or macho guys bullying children are off-base. It's just that some coaches express themselves differently, and using a loud voice _absent control or bullying tactics_ is simply a stylistic preference. The kids do well to learn how to accept someone else's intensity without taking it personally.

Well said. One thing I've appreciated about my children's coaches is that it teaches my children how to relate to different adults.

2:31 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger technogypsy said...

We spanked and yelled at times. The children seemed to survive. Of course, my family tends to be loud anyway. Drives the Brits I work with nuts...

Spanking (and its funny how that seems to have merged into beating in the NYT - happily no so much down in Texas) worked best when ritualized. We talk about why the behavior was unacceptable, sned them out to the shed with instructions to pick their switch and wait, then give it a few minutes to make sure I'm calm and go swat them on the back of the thighs a few time. Saved for serious matter and about 10 start emphasizing they aren't babies anymore and shouldn't need to be spanked.

On the other hand, a quick swat on the rump worked well when the kid tried to do some dangerous - run into the street, reach into a fire, etc.

But then again I'm one of them danged neolithic savages that don't vote democratic.

2:45 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Kim said...

Seldom have I read such bollocks. Shouting at a child for misbehavior is no different from spanking -- it's one of several tools one uses to get discipline across -- and shouting works in times when instant behavior correction is needed.

As with ALL disciplinary tools, over-using one's loud voice has a negative effect, eventually. Generally, when my kids got the benefit of my yell (actually, a roar), they knew they'd screwed up, big time, and they would change their behavior instantly.

Were they cowed into submission by that roar? You betcha. That's because THEY were the weenies, and I was the grownup, and without clear understanding of the hierarchy, they would have become just like the peevish little brats we see in malls and streets today. And they knew that after a roar would come a whipping -- which I should note, occurred fewer than a handful of times in nearly 40 child-years.

Just because some people abuse a disciplinary tool does not mean that the tool should be denied to everyone, forever.

On that same principle, no car should be able to drive faster than 50mph, no one should be allowed to own a gun, and no one should be allowed to write a blog.

And for the record, my kids today are tough, independent and responsible free-thinking adults, with impeccable manners. Whatever I did to them in their childhood must have worked.

2:54 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Jane said...

I listened to Dr. Dobson on the subject of anger. His quote: "Anger does not motivate". He talked about how it merely foments disrespect in the child.

He gave a good example of a police officer. When he stops you in your car, he doesn't need to express his authority by screaming at you. Generally, we act respectful of his calm and quiet authority because we know the consequences if we misbehave.

My friend is judicious in the light spanking method (using an extremely thin stick so as to sting). She says if they ignore her normal speaking voice, that's usually a sign they need a spanking. She doesn't feel she should be required to speak louder in order to be respected or obeyed. Her kids turned out pretty happy and normal as far as I can tell.

I've started trying to consciously refuse to say things multiple times or speak louder. I feel like if I do that, the kids win the authority battle because they've manipulated me.

Mostly I think problems happen when we don't give good directions in the first place. It's a lot of work to be on top of things all the time.

2:58 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Tweell has it exactly right.

I neither read these studies nor set any store by their conclusions, because they seek to advocate a set of behaviors based on an aggregate of parents and children.

Which is silly.

I have a unique relationship with each of my family, friends, and coworkers. Each dynamic is different, and calls for a unique approach.

From the earliest time that my daughter was old enough to be receptive to correction, of any kind, I could easily rehearse in my mind what would happen if I used corporal punishment. It was as clear as day to me that nothing good would ever come of doing so, and so I never have. Thankfully, I am not naturally given to it.

I also know that yelling is perilous, because I am susceptible to flashes of verbal temper, and these also do little good. However, in potentially dangerous situations, yelling gets her needful attention.

The thing that works for us is seriousness. We are almost always goofy with each other. So, when I get quietly serious, she listens.

I know I am an incredibly lucky dad for having a 6-year old with this kind of maturity, and I know that there are friends of mine, particularly with boys, who get great results from a quick swat. The boys focus, take in the correction, and then go on their merry way, when a verbal harangue, loud or not, would be no good at all.

Decide for youself, with love in your heart, and the shrinks and busybodies can fuck off (no offense, Dr. Smith).

3:01 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Ryan said...

As a schoolteacher, I can testify that yelling at kids is very effective the first time you do it. My first year as a teacher, I yelled a lot, and it lost any impact very quickly. Soon, the kids just accepted that as the norm and would deliberately try to push my buttons to make me angry -- it was entertaining. Eventually, I learned how to focus on loving my students as they were trying to drive me up the wall and not respond in anger, and I eventually became a good teacher. Based on my experience, I would say that you shouldn't yell at your kids more than once a month.

3:18 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Donna B. said...

I am thinking that if a parent has to constantly yell, swat, put the kid in time-out or whatever form of training, then the parent has lost focus somewhere along the line.

Even anarchic two year olds don't often need constant correction (constant watching, yeah!)

I was very fortunate to have owned a dalmatian when my two oldest children were born just over a year apart.

The dog set the boundaries as to how near the road the babies could go (and it was closer to the house than my boundary would have been) and he could turn them around with a nudge to the diaper.

He also set boundaries for me. I learned that I could not yell or swat the children in his presence or he would growl at me. He was in charge in the yard.

After I thought about it for a while, I decided that was, overall, a good thing.

So, I learned other techniques of discipline that were much more useful in the long-run. He was much better at letting them know that hitting and biting each other was not acceptable than I think almost any human would have been.

So yeah, my children were raised by a dog :-)

3:38 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

when coaching kids on the soccer field occasionally one has to yell...for reasons of proximity, but doing it when the child in four feet away tunes the child out.

making him play with one shoe for ten minutes is much more effective.

giving him the coaches whistle works too.

yelling is a breakdown in communication. a study of the mechanisms of your communication and the responses you get will help you to understand what it is you are really saying to kids and other sorts of people.

3:47 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger MossyMo said...

Dutch said...

I agree with J. Bowen completely. Well said actually. Spanking is still necessary to discipline them, and then try to talk to them out of love and explain the reason for spanking.

I was spanked occasionally (not often) by my parents. What I remember is not the spanking, but the damned lecture that went ahead of it. Even as a little kid (~7) I recognized it s a pre-packaged liberal academic mantra that someone had taught my father to say. That lecture really was horrible. The spanking was trivial. What getting spanked told me was that I was way out of line if they were resorting to this.
Later when I was in my late 20s, my brothers and I got into some conversation where we found out that all 3 of us could recite my father's speech word-for-word.

4:28 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Tari said...

Unbelievably ridiculous. Yes, of course, screaming and yelling are one of the tools abusive parents use. Duh. At the same time, most people yell at their kids from time to time with good effect.

I yell at my kids. Yup, I do. When the 6 year old bit the dog, I yelled. Mostly because I knew if he did it again, he might not be so lucky, and might get bitten back. And when they do something (else) completely stupid, I may lose it and yell "what were you thinking, for pete's sake?!" But +98% of my conversation with them occurs in a normal tone of voice, and I fail to see the problem with those percentages. Anyone who does: I'm willing to bet they don't have kids.

Oh, and one last thought: if my kids were very sensitive to me raising my voice, chances are I wouldn't do it much. If one of them cried when I yelled up the stairs "I told you to pick up your room - what ARE you doing up there?!?" I would likely not do it again. But my two are loud and boisterous boys, and we're a loud, boisterous family. The loudest thing in this house is the nightly chase/wrestling match between my husband, the boys, and the 2 dogs. It deafens me, and it delights the 5 of them to no end. The occasional howl I let out when tripping over the same child's shoes for the 50th time ("Did I tell you to put these away? Yes I did!") doesn't faze anyone.

4:53 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Synova said...

It seems to me that modern parenting is most interested in preventing parenthood.

Because it's never ever based on the fact that to be *qualified* to be a parent all one has to do is reproduce and then take the advice from that starting point.

All the advice is for the "best" but most difficult, time consuming, narrow parenting methods. No room to make mistakes, be cranky, be busy or otherwise slip up. It doesn't seem to matter at all that innumerable children grew in households with *many* children who essentially raised themselves, showing up for dinner, dirty and disheveled, simply because of the reality of total numbers. Or grew up in a household that was regimented.

Now everything is "abuse." And the standards are something that a normal human can't meet.

5:03 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Synova said...

Also... when you can't spank... what do you do but yell?

I met a lady once who controlled her little boys by telling them lies. She told them there were monsters or kidnappers or alligators in the house so they wouldn't go up the stairs. But she didn't spank! OR raise her voice.

I heard a woman once, in such calm tones, explain to her child that if she did the bad thing again that Jesus wouldn't love her any more. But she didn't spank! OR raise her voice.

5:10 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Calvin Dodge said...

I think it's interesting to see people say one should not teach children that bad behavior may earn a violent response - or even just a loud one.

I think these children will be in for a shock when they become adults, and find out that bad behavior THEN (i.e., breaking the law) earns a violent response (people with guns come to forcibly move you to another location).

5:13 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Bruce Hayden said...

Before we had a kid, my ex and I had long talks about discipline, and for the most part, we were able to hold to it. And, I count that as a success, one of the things I can be proud of in life.

Spanking was out, until and unless we got to the point where a kid wouldn't respond to anything else, and we would need to discuss it before then. And, it never got to that point.

Raising your voice is a bit harder. She failed on rare occasion, but I can say that I never raised mine in anger. Again, something to be proud of.

What I told the kid, early on, and then repeated on a fairly regular basis, was that I would endeavor not to raise my voice, except in the case of danger. And, in the 18 years before adulthood, I did that twice, and it worked. The last was learning to drive, and stopping in the middle of a left turn with oncoming traffic. A shouted "go" worked.

But, we were lucky, having an easy kid to raise. Very lucky.

My girlfriend was the middle of five, and then raised five or so kids. Her sisters were apparently impervious to screaming, and one to corporal punishment. She was crushed for a week when even falsely implicated in that sort of discipline (when, for example, her parents disciplined all five at once). And, so, she never screamed at her kids as a mother. And, as expected, the results were about 50/50, though it seems to have broken on gender lines - the girls should have maybe been screamed at more, while the boys turned out great, regardless.

I think, in the end, it really just depends on the kid. And, maybe the family. A one size fits all just doesn't work in reality.

5:46 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Spanking, done right, is a very freeing thing for both parent and child. A directive given in a calm voice that is disobeyed (i.e. don't run into the street) is then the calm object of an administered spanking done in love. The child learns to obey and thus be responsible for his own actions, as opposed to the
parents having to always watch
their child.

When the parent finds himself frustrated because of disobedient children, it is a sign that the
discipline is off.

If you have only 1 or 2 children, you can afford to use alternate methods, but when you have 4 or more, you need some way to maintain control without losing your own mind.

Mother of 5

6:52 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger TheLastPsychiatrist said...

Thanks to Kulibali for mentioning me (and then thanks to someone else for telling me this post existed)-- the issue is neither the spanking nor the screaming, but the context: parents are calm and purposeful about actually bad things (e.g. lying, punching another kid, not doing your homework) but completely explode on trivial things (spilling milk.)

So the "emotional valence" (oohh) is reversed.

The kid learns the wrong lesson: not that there are objective right and wrongs, but that the goal of life is to not piss off the boss.

If you want a more elaborate explanation:

Shouting vs. Spanking

There's also an ironic picture of a screaming toddler there.

10:13 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger newscaper said...

The notion that if one does spank, it must be done without any visible anger is utter nonsense, a cousin to the ludicrous "This hurts me more than you" passive-aggressive BS.

Letting out some emotion is a) part of that spectrum that goes from 'please stop that' to 'you really, really blew it' and b) good for your blood pressure :) -- bottled up anger is not 'no anger'.

Seeing that you have truly had enough in your full body language and tone is a vital life lesson that might give them a clue that outside your home, similarly obnoxious behavior might result in a punch in the face or worse.

A Xanax'ed delivery loses much of that impact.

Showing anger is not the same thing as 'losing control'. And the funny thing is, some of the most wild-eyed crazed looking moms are the ones who've been doing what they think is the enlightened mom routine, then when they finally reach the breaking point look genuinely on the verge of losing it. Letting some of that out *sooner* is better.

I'll absolutely agree it depends on the kid as far as no spanking, token swats, or having to put some burn on it. Timeouts work like a charm with some kids. It doesn;t work for others, like our son when he was 2-3, becasue sitting in the corner ultimately requires cooperation from the child, and if he is out of sorts and worked up, you aren't getting that.
With him it would be amazing how he would be crying and fussing, bordering on a tantrum -- it would go on for a while with no sign of slowing, but then, like magic, a spanking would result in more intense crying for a minute or so then he'd be fine -- it would literally help snap him out of his mood. The severity of spanking is another issue, as too wimpy a spanking, a non-authoritative one (again tailored to the kid) is arguably worse than not spanking because it breeds contempt -- the sneering "Is that the best you've got" in the extreme case.
I've seen little girls who get barely a tap on the butt and burst in to tears, mainly because it hurt their feelings.

Other kids, particularly some boys, truly need a firmer spanking with some real impact. It's tricky because some kids have figured out how to howl just for effect and you have to be able to judge the difference.

We've all seen the moms in stores with a hellraising screaming toddler or pre-schooler who impotently plead with the kid to pipe down, or promise *rewards* (or give up and leave) basically becoming hostages to their kids bad behavior, or -- worse- subscribe to the school of 'just let 'em cry it out - they'll soon learn it does no good and quit doing it. That *might* work with some kids -- but in the meantime they're being horribly inconsiderate to everyone else around them (and teaching the kid not to have any thought for the broader impact of their decisions, beyond the parent).

Also, I have a problem with those -- mostly moms-- who won't hardly get on to very youngs kids at all. "Oh, they're too young to understand". Nonsense -- not that they're necessarily wrong about the understanding bit, but every correction doesn't have to be a lecture. They need to start learning boundaries *before* they can write an essay on the subject. Sure, maybe they 'don't know' -- but if you don't start correcting, who else will they ever learn?

10:15 PM, October 23, 2009  
Blogger Aloysius said...

My parents raised a large family. They spanked and shouted (but were not abusive). When they were grandparents they asked us to forgive them and not spank their grandchildren. I think it took a few years for me to pick up my jaw. But they loved us and all of their children married once and only once and are still married 30+ years later. All practice their faith as Mom and Dad taught and most all of their children do as well.

4:18 AM, October 24, 2009  
Blogger TMink said...

newscaper wrote: "Also, I have a problem with those -- mostly moms-- who won't hardly get on to very youngs kids at all. "Oh, they're too young to understand". Nonsense -- not that they're necessarily wrong about the understanding bit, but every correction doesn't have to be a lecture."

Great points. Kids understand a stern look and a pop on the butt. Even dogs understand those things. Lectures in general do not work. The kid tunes out after three sentences. Most parents would do well to shorten reprimands to three sentences and impose faster, more intense punishments.

I also get frustrated with the parents who take their disruptive child's side against teachers.


9:46 AM, October 24, 2009  
Blogger Nom de Blog said...

I have a child with Asperger's Syndrome. He doesn't even realize that I'm a person, though I think he's starting to catch on. When I don't do what he wants, he thinks nothing of hitting me like you might smack your computer or TV if it was acting up. When he was younger, the only thing he understood was "if I hit somebody, suddenly my butt is in pain." As he gets closer to the age of reason, I am able to explain to him that these skinbags around him are actually people like himself. Until I can get that through to him, no matter what I do he will be like a feral child, always acting out no matter how well he is parented, because in his own mind he is literally the only human being in the universe.

I know how to parent-- my oldest really is a little angel, and you never have to tell her anything twice or raise your voice to her. Have a child like my son, though, before you lecture me about how nobody should ever need to yell at their child and how everybody's child should respond to the same discipline and learn how to behave like a little angel with only disapproving nods.

5:50 PM, October 24, 2009  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

The real issue with that article is the personal preferences of the authors being tarted up as "science" in order to gain a respect it normally wouldn't get if you heard it from someone at the grocery store. Appeal to authority is the logical fallacy at play here. Fortunately, most people who've had children know better due to their experience.

9:45 AM, October 25, 2009  
Blogger Patrick said...

"Never got angry. Not once."

I see you have read Dr. Spock's parenting guide (the Vulcan that is).

11:05 AM, October 25, 2009  
Blogger Unknownprofessor said...

I came from a loud, boisterous mill-town family (three boys). The wife came from an upper-middle class family of girls. She classifies yelling any words spoken even marginally above a normal voice. In my family, that was called "conversation".

Her family also never spanked, while mine did repeatedly. Somehow, we got through.

The main thing is that when our kids misbehave, we make it a "memorable" occasion. How we do that varies - sometimes it's swift (And LOUD) disapproval. Sometimes it's nothing right then, followed by having them unexpectedly lose a promised trip for ice cream later that night.

Either way, we mix it up - that way they never get used to what they'll do next.

But luckily, we have great kids.

11:53 PM, October 25, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

the problem isn`t with the kids, it`s with the institutionalisation of children.

does your child`s school look like a modern jail by the way?

when my children get stressed and bored we go to the park (the big grassy area waiting to be turned into condos.) and we run and kick a soccer ball for an hour or so.

this isn`t a parenting strategy, it`s called fun.


remember that?

i have an industrial leveling laser from my contracting days. the boys and i sit at the window on a saturday night and paint drunks coming out of the legion across the street.

we used to live in an apartment building. occasionally a drunk guy would walk his dog, so we made the dog chase the laser dot.....

and yeah, i used to spank them. a quick whack on the ass brought them up short when reason failed.

i don`t know whether i have great kids. that`s for others to assess. i know we love eachother though.

10:28 AM, October 26, 2009  
Blogger Suzanne Venker said...

For other politically incorrect info about this subject and many others, Google "No Bull Mom."

9:25 PM, October 28, 2009  

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