It’s quite fascinating to find out what worldly issues our children ponder over when we think they’re permanently fixed in make-believe world.The other day, we were enjoying our usual pre-breakfast snuggle-up ritual and little boy asked us if we’d ever had the cane at school.
Me: never, ever.
Dad: lot’s of times.
Boy: what for?
Dad: mostly fighting. But one time, a boy was picking on me so I pushed him into a pond.
Boy: hearty bellows of laughter (our son loves slap-stick)
Boy: how did the teacher cane you? Does it hurt?
Dad: yes, it hurts. I got three strikes on each hand and I couldn’t eat my lunch and I couldn’t write all afternoon.
Boy: I think that’s cruel.
Me: I think that’s depraved!!!
Dad: sometimes I would get the pump.
Boy: what’s the pump?
Dad: it’s when they use a PE pump and they make you bend right over and touch your toes while they slap you across the bum with the pump.
Boy: more bellows
Me: I think that’s even more depraved!!!
Dad: my head teacher had a rack of canes, all different lengths and thicknesses. I think he tried every one out on me.
Boy: were you always naughty dad?
Dad: not really. But this one day, when me and my pal were bunking off schoo….
Me: AHEM~ right, what’s everyone having for brekky then?
I mean, could it have been more confusing for children to be beaten with a stick by their teacher for fighting in the schoolyard?
Amazingly, the corporal punishment of children still occurs in many parts of the world.
I just don’t get how is it right to strike a person (using what is basically a weapon by any other name) who is often half the size and weight of the adult who is carrying out the corporal punishment?
Corporal punishment or any form of violence against kids simply strips them of their dignity and their human rights. It robs them of their right to equal protection under the law of their country. And it teaches them that violence solves problems.
Which brings me onto another gripe. Smacking our kids. I consider smacking to be a form of corporal punishment too so I apply all these views to smacking our children, the little people, the defenceless and vulnerable members of our society.
Not many countries have a full ban on corporal punishment which includes smacking in the home or care-home.
In the UK smacking is banned. Except if it’s on children. A few years ago there was a campaign effort to ban smacking but our dear peers at the HofL for some sordid reason, thought that the full protection of our children under the law was worth compromising. So they rejected an outright ban and said we could smack our kids – mildly. What? Smacking our kids ‘mildly’ requires restraint. Smacking is rarely carried out in a rational, controlled way. It’s usually the manifestation of rage. So if parents are able to control their temper and smack mildly, then they are surely able to think of a non-violent alternative way of dealing with their child’s behaviour. So why make such a ludicrous compromise to appease the pro-smackers? I realise that a full ban would be hard to police but folks…it’s all in the message we are giving to our kids.
From the Children are Unbeatable Alliance:
…hitting children is wrong.
…children are the smallest and most fragile citizens.
…it is unjust and disrespectful for children to have less protection from assault than adults.
…the UK must satisfy obligations under United Nations and European human rights agreements.
…in the 21st century, we all need to move on to end the legal and social acceptability of hitting children.
So, what are the alternatives to smacking? We need to effectively discipline our kids somehow.
Well, there’s always the good-old, dependable star-chart. I’ve been known to start a star-chart or three. Trouble is, I usually forget to keep up with it. Either that, or my kids learn to exploit it. So it usually gets dumped after a week or two.
There’s always encouragement via the praise route. Well yes, this is perfect when they’re doing some that is actually praiseworthy. But how does praising work when they’ve just written their name on the wall in permanent ink (my kids either have too much integrity or they lack the ingenuity to write their siblings names on the wall instead of their own) or they’re throwing a tantrum because they can’t have any sweets?
And what parent hasn’t used the time-out step? Always works for my seven-year-old. But for my eldest child… bloody hell. It’s me who needs the time-out!
Grounding. That rarely works for me because I’m such a weak-willed, jelly-legs who gives in when they cry and beg me to let them go to the school disco. And I’ll tell you what else I do which is sooo bloody stupid and immature…I make ridiculous threats that would be impossible to carry out. For jeepers sake! If you’re going to bribe or threaten your kids, you must make sure it’s a doable threat in case you find yourself held to it. I mean, telling your seven-year-old that he’s not-going-to-get-any-supper-for-a-whole-year if he doesn’t do his homework is never going to be taken seriously…even by a seven-year-old!
Anyway, I’ve rambled on without providing any practical help. I’m not a perfect parent (in case you were still wondering!!). No-one is of course. I’ve never smacked my kids but I often resort to shouting. And ye gods do I feel a right twit after. Shouting. Smacking. Let’s face it. Both are out-of-control and largely ineffective responses to our children’s naughty behaviour.
But our job as parent is to protect our children from harm at all times. And, if we desire a world of peace, our role is to direct and guide them into adulthood in ways of non-violence.