Bullying is Not Discipline!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

So often now days we hear about young parents not disciplining their children enough. We can blame some of that on the confusion that comes from the colleges of child development and the related abuse laws that have ensued. But there is often the other end of the spectrum where young parents try to pass of their bullying as discipline. This trend is very destructive to children especially those in elementary school, preschool, and younger ages.

For example, a boy repeatedly touches his sister’s new birthday toy to annoy her. After the nth time he jams his fingers into the dolls mouth, she gets frustrated and screams at him. Mom and Dad cannot stand screaming, so they rush into the room and tell her to stop. There is no effort to calm or comfort her first, just to shut her up, NOW. The daughter feels victimized but gets no sympathy for her plight, so she cries harder.

Now Mom and Dad are having a power struggle with their daughter because she did not obey them when they told her to stop screaming. There was no effort to tell their son to leave his sister alone. Instead, Mom says that if she does not stop screaming, the toy will be given to her brother. Does she want that?! This is said in a so – there! attitude. The girl feels violated by her parents as well as her brother. She was the victim but she is in trouble for reacting.

Mom is really mad that her daughter did not calm down when ordered to, so the girl is sent to her room to sit on her bed until she can stop crying. The time-out timer will not be started until the crying stops. So instead of sitting on her bed for 7 minutes (because she is 7 years old – one minute for each year of age is a good rule), she sits there until she can calm down, then the 7 minutes starts. This makes her unfair time-out even longer.

There are several things wrong with this scenario, but to say anything to the parents undermines their authority with their children. Authority – hah! This is not discipline, it is bullying. They girl has no recourse. She will get in trouble for back-talking if she argues her side. She will get in trouble no matter what she does, except shut up. The boy, on the other hand, has been rewarded for making his sister scream.

Young parents use this kind of bullying all the time and try to pass it off as parenting. They do not want the grandparents, in-laws, or anyone else to offer any parenting advice. They want to be respected as the parents who know what is best for their children. This is a ridiculous assumption, especially when most young parents have never taken any parenting classes. Yet they disregard the wisdom and experience of older parents and grandparents.

So what is really at play here? It is the young parents’ egos being offended. There is no real concern for the child’s welfare, just that they were disobeyed (even if they were wrong). Ironically, young parents often rely on their friends (also young parents) for parenting advice, so they support each other in their faulty methods and reasoning.

In the particular example mentioned above, the 7-year-old girl is the oldest of 4 children and is always the scapegoat. No matter who starts the problem, it is her fault because she screamed. Even when she is the victim, she ends up punished on her bed, or worse. What is happening to her self-esteem and psyche can only be destructive. Mom and Dad are creating a real problem for the future just so they can assuage their self-importance now.

Which brings us to another kind of bullying – Dads who pick on their children constantly. I see fathers and step-fathers, who often criticize their children and call them names, but it is “all in fun” and they are just “teasing.” Often they reduce the child to tears, but now they can call the child “baby” or some other name. What is the point of this? It is cruelty in an insidious form. The child is not allowed to get mad at Dad for his bullying. Reacting just brings on punishment. Yet Dads often do not stop until the child is pushed to a point of no return and disciplined. Moms who allow it are just as much at fault.

The excuse of “my parents did it to me and I turned out just fine” is an obvious lie. Picking on children is not the mark of someone who is just fine. The excuse of “I am toughening them up so they can deal with reality” is also a lie. The good in life is just as real as the bad. Children should be able to deal with reality in a healthy, proactive way. Instead, they just become bullies themselves. Again, it is the ego of the parents and their need for a sense of power that is at work here.

Only a coward gets his or her sense of power from bullying a child. It is easy to pick on someone younger and smaller, who must respect the parent and has no recourse for protection. In this same way, all child molesters and rapists are cowards, too. They cannot face their peers, so they pick on those who are smaller and/or younger and/or powerless. This is not a group that Dad (or Mom) should want to belong to.

All young parents, foster parents, and first-time parents should have to take the “Love & Logic” type parenting classes so that they do not keep disciplining from personal power point of view, but do what is best for the child instead. Yes, children need to be disciplined and respect their parents, but in the right ways for the right reasons. Children should be nurtured in a loving environment and corrected, when necessary, in a manner that leaves their self-esteem intact. There are plenty of good parenting methods available to those willing to learn.

Thank goodness children are resilient, and thank goodness that they interact with other relatives, friends, teachers, and childcare providers who may show them the love, compassion, and healthy discipline that they need. Thank goodness there are parenting magazines and groups able to guide those who want to parent with love and logic instead of ego and bullying! There is always hope. There is a middle ground in the spectrum from not enough discipline to too much. May we all stop disciplining for control issues and power struggles, and start disciplining with the child’s self-esteem and future goals in mind.

Article Source: http://ezineseeker.com/?expert=Shannah_B_Godfrey

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