vi) Logical Consequences
These are ‘things that fit the crime'!
· We have already thought about setting limits but allowing choices within those limits e.g. “If you finish your homework and let me see it before six o'clock, then we could go down to the park or alternatively if you don't finish tonight we could go tomorrow after you've done it. Which would you like to do?”
· Now consequences are things that happen as a result of the decisions your child makes.
· There are natural consequences such as getting hungry if you miss a meal or tired if you stay up too late.
· However some natural consequences are dangerous and so you need to have created logical consequences
· Created logical consequences are those which you will invent to act as alternatives to the dangerous natural consequence.
Illustration: Pat has recently passed her driving test and Dad has agreed to let her drive the family car – if the two parents don't need it, and never after eleven o'clock at night, and never if she has been drinking ANY alcohol. The natural consequences of Pat having the car without those caveats being added would be a) inconvenience for Mum and Dad, b) danger being out alone late at night and c) danger of driving under the influence of alcohol. One of Pat's friends seems to have far more lenient father and so Pat approaches her dad view a view to him relaxing these rules.
Dad explains why he has these rules and then adds, “Well perhaps there should be three other options given to you. Number One, if you don't like the restrictions you either don't use the car or, Number Two, I'll give you a lift if I'm free and it's convenient and, Number Three, if you use the car and break the curfew rule you won't use if for the next week for the first infringement or the next two weeks for the second infringement, and if you ever drive it after having had any alcohol then you won't drive it for the next three months. The choice is yours, darling, what do you want to go for?”
Now note the design of the logical consequences:
· We acknowledge dangerous or unhelpful natural consequences
· To protect our children we provide reasonable alternative logical consequences
· Those consequences are to be directly linked to the behaviour and are to be seen as such and not as some added penalty.
vii) Brainstorming Solutions
· In a family situation, at a family meeting, the troublesome behaviour can be aired and all the members of the family be invited to brainstorm as many ideas as possible (however zany) to be solutions.
· The child in question then chooses one of the ‘solutions' that is acceptable to the parents.
· This approach brings a lightness to the problem-solving within the family.
viii) Distract the Child
Even with older children, the art of 'breaking in' to the negative feelings that are prevailing, is worth working on, especially when the family generally seemed jaded.
"OK, that's it, everybody get their coats on! We're going out to.... the park, to buy some cheap sweets, etc.!"
"OK, I'm bored and you clearly are too! Let's see if we can find a roll of old wallpaper and paint the longest picture possible together, in the next half hour!"
OK! Let's stop this! Here's a list of ten things. First one to find all these and bring them to me get three sweets!"
"Right, you look bored. Let's get a bucket of water and three cups and go out in the back yard and have a water fight!" (Not in the winter!)
"Tomorrow morning we're going down to the beach / park / river / canal etc. and will have early morning picnic breakfast!"
Because this is such a contentious area we will deal with it as a separate item.
2. To Smack or Not to Smack
a) The Background to my Comments
Because I have been a father seeking to do the right thing, a teacher who wants to know the alternatives, a school governor who has sat in on disciplinary meetings, and a parent trainer who has listened to a number of parents, I have for many years pondered the whole question of smacking.
My conclusion is that very often perspectives on this subject come from emotionally biased, ideological viewpoints which can be illogical, little thought through and completely out of touch with ordinary parents.
My approach as a teacher may be summed up as “Try to avoid smacking but if you have to then it is vital that this is the way you do it…..”
In what follows will be why I think this is a reasonable position.
b) Some Parents WILL Smack
The harsh reality of life is that regardless of legislation or illogical but well-meaning ideologists, there will be parents who smack.
I once sat in on a school disciplinary meeting where a father asked the school to cane his out-of-control teenage son. From various clues given by this father inadvertently, I was convinced this father could not control his anger and therefore frequently lashed out at his son at home. Uncontrolled anger is a very real problem for many parents.
I have sat in various parent training groups and at particularly secure moments have listened to nice middle-class mothers confessing to one another how they sometimes broke loose and struck their children.
The reality is that some parents who have not been taught and have not applied the things on these pages will get to a point of frustration with their children where they lash out in anger.
The point I make is that many parents, although they would not confess it openly, do in fact approve a policy of smacking their children, whatever any government or other agency might say, for no other reason than they do it as a last resort and therefore justify it in their mind.
c) Some Parents Remain in Fear and Chaos
More and more as parents have heard threats of legislation coming to ban smacking children, more and more parents are in fear of the authorities, especially when tales abound of heavy handed social workers snatching away ‘abused' children. Now the reality is that there are many abused children but the news over recent years suggests that it is all too easy for these cases to escape the eyes of social workers.
I have known health visitors and social workers confess in private that they smack their children, even though in public they decry the practice.
Both this and the previous section suggest there is almost an institutional hypocrisy that prevails over this subject.
The result of the fear, however, is that some parents, not knowing any other technique, now simply feel unable to correct their children and a generation of children without boundaries is growing up. A few years ago there were reports of a court case where a seventeen year old young man was being prosecuted for murder. As the judge heard the evidence of his life he commented, “This is the first time that anyone has ever said ‘No!' to this man.”
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