By MJ Corr
How are your parenting skills? Chances are you have been reading a lot and talking to other people. In the process you have put together a fairly decent set of tools.
But more than likely you are probably like me. You have grown up absorbing the skills that your parents used on you.
And like me you promised yourself that with your own children you would only use the ones you thought were good…but would throw away the rest.
Admit it when you are tired or stressed out you even use the ones you don’t like.
But here’s the thing. I have been watching the news and seeing stories like a mother punishing her son by forcing hot sauce down his throat. She was brought up on charges of child abuse. Did you see it?
I said I would never do anything like that. But I started to wonder; do I do anything abusive to my child? Do you, without knowing it?
Here’s a small test:
Abuse or Discipline Question 1
You see a man on the street yelling at his young daughter. Is he abusing her or is she being disciplined?
- Red faced
- Saying things like “What’s wrong with you!”
This can be very traumatic for a child. Just the words can have an adverse effect on her. It is making it about her and not her behavior.
However is dad:
- Saying things like “I am angry” or “I don’t like this behavior.”
In this case he is addressing the behavior and not belittling his daughter like the first instance.
Which is good discipline and which is abusive? Some people won’t see the difference. They don’t see a problem in saying humiliating things to their children to get them to do the right thing.
I disagree. Scaring a child into submission is never the right way to teach them how to behave. This is an abusive reaction to a behavior problem. The more often it happens you will see a child who is either very timid and submissive or very belligerent.
Depending on the circumstances this situation may not appear to be abusive. We are actually used to seeing this on a daily basis. Maybe we do it ourselves.
Abuse or Discipline Question 2
Let’s look at a more overt example. While I was writing this article I took some time out to take my 10 year old to the skate park.
After we parked he took off. I followed at a more leisurely pace. In front of me was an SUV. The tailgate was up and mom was piling things into it.
She stopped abruptly and began to yell at a small boy wandering nearby, “What are you doing? I told you we were leaving! Get over here!”
As the boy got closer she grabbed him, lifted him up, dropped him hard onto the back of the car, and yelled “Now you stay there until I am done!”
As she was doing this she was fuming and clenching her fists. And her son’s response was a whimpered “Ow that hurt.”
I found this embarrassing and I felt bad for the boy. Mom was oblivious to me and to her son’s pain. She muttered to herself as she began throwing her belongings into the back.
I know some people will still not see a problem here. But is it abuse or not? There are several things to look at:
- Mom was losing control. Effective discipline really requires the parent to be relaxed. A child will learn more effectively when they feel loved. When emotions get added to the situation then neither he nor his parent can think clearly.
- The boy was hurt in the process. It is one thing to swat a child’s bottom mostly to get his attention. It is quite another to cause physical pain.
I know, a lot of readers may still be unclear if either of these situations shows abuse. But remember there are many different levels of abuse and there is a very fine line between abuse and good discipline.
People tend to raise their own kids the way they themselves were raised so they don’t necessarily see the abusive nature of some of their own parenting skills.
Abuse or Discipline Question 3
So let’s try one more example. A man takes his son out behind the garage and begins to beat him perhaps with his fists, or with a belt, or even a pole. Is it abuse or not?
In the United States this is considered physical abuse. If it is reported that man can be arrested and charged.
We need to look at our own parenting skills. Do we humiliate our children when disciplining them? Do we scream? Do we hit them? Do we lose our temper?
If we answer yes to any one of these, have we passed the test? Or should we be working to improve our parenting skills?
Because let’s face it, we all want the best for our kids!
As a concerned parent MJ Corr has been researching and putting into practice better parenting skills in raising his son.
After meeting many parents who are unclear whether their own skills could be abusive he has written a new eBook “The Difference Between Discipline and Abuse.” Get your FREE copy by clicking http://www.mjcorr.com