Advice on punishing your kids.

As we have a little girl on the way, I find myself doing a lot of research into parenting methods.  While I’m sure we’re all aware of many of the failures of the “parenting advice industry”, this doesn’t mean that we should just discount all available advice.

What I like about this Slate piece is how it addresses the needs that a parent feels when their child makes them angry.

It’s difficult to work out a satisfying response to flagrant disrespect because you’re typically in the grip of at least four distinct, only partially overlapping, and often conflicting motives: an emotional urge to do something with the anger surging up inside you, a moralistic impulse to dispense justice in proportion to the offense, a social obligation to show yourself and your child and any others who might be watching that you don’t tolerate such behavior, and a practical intent to get rid of the problem so you don’t have to put up with such hassles in the future.

Something I’ve learned in my quest to learn the state-of-the-art in parenting skills is that children are different from each other.  For example:

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The Evil Eye: Stare down your child with a dire expression and say nothing.

Immediate: The stare-down is likely to escalate and continue the child’s behavior, and the struggle goes on.

Personally, I can recall immediately falling in line when given the evil eye.  However, a key realization to anyone wanting to learn about … well, anything, really … is not to discount a source because one nugget of information doesn’t jive with your experience.  In this example, perhaps I was an abnormality.  Maybe the vast majority of children don’t respond to the evil eye.  Of course, that is the reason I prefer more scholarly pieces then this one from Slate.  A scholarly journal is likely to contain cites to studies that say, for example, that 77% of children don’t respond to stern looks from their caregivers.

Anyway, enough rambling.  Go read the article, parents.

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