Thursday, May 17, 2012

SWC series: Chapter 2 (pt. 1)

fun with pudding! May 2012
Okay readers! I'm continuing my series on The Strong-Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson. To reemphasize, I am simply reading through this book again and quoting notable thoughts from the book for easier reference. All rights belong to the author. I claim no insight of my own.

Ch. 2 Shaping the Will (part one of two)

"When a child behaves in ways that are disrespectful or harmful to himself or others, his hidden purpose is often to verify the stability of the boundaries. This testing has much the same function as a policeman who turns to doorknobs at places of business after dark. Though he tries to open doors, he hopes they are locked and secure. Likewise, a child who assaults the loving authority of his parents is greatly reassured when their leadership holds firm and confident."

1. Define the boundaries before they are enforced.

"The child should know what is and what is not acceptable behavior before he is held responsible for those rules... If you haven't defined it, don't enforce it!"

2. When defiantly challenged, respond with confident decisiveness.

"In a moment of rebellion, a little child will consider his parents' wishes and defiantly choose to disobey."

"The child has made it clear that he is looking for a fight, and his parents would be wise not to disapoint him! Nothing is more destructive to parental leadership than for a mother or father to disintegrate during that struggle. When the parent consistently loses those battles, resorting to tears and screaming and other evidence of frustration, some dramatic changes take place they are 'seen' by their children. Instead of being secure and confident leaders, they become spinless jellyfish who are unworthy of respect or allegiance."

3. Distinquish between willful defiance and childish irresponsibility.

"A child should not be spanked for behavior that is not willfully defiant."

4. Reassure and teach after the confrontation is over.

(this section is fully quoted because it is SO good!)
"After a time of conflict during which the parent has demonstrated his right to lead (particularly if it resulted in tears for the child), the youngster between two and seven (or older) may want to be loved and reassured. By all means, open your arms and let him come! Hold him close and tell him of your love. Rock him gently and let him know, again, why he was punished and how he can avoid the trouble next time. This moment of communication builds love, fidelity, and family unity. And for the Christian family, it is extremely important to pray with the child at that time, admitting to God that we all have sinned and no one is perfect. Divine forgiveness is a marvelous experience, even for a very young child."

5. Avoid impossible demands.

"Be absolutely sure that your child is capable of delivering what you require. Never punish him for wetting the bed involuntarily..."

6. Let love be your guide!

"A relationship that is characterized by genuine love and affection is likely to be a healthy one, even though some parental mistakes and errors are inevitable."

-- To spank or not to spank--

(corporal punishment vs. child abuse)- "[corporal punishment] is a teaching tool by which harmful behavior is inhibited, rather than a wrathful attempt by one person to damage another. One is an act of love; the other is an act of hostility, and they are as different as night and day. "

"A spanking is to be reserved for use in response to willful defiance, whever it occurs. Period! It is much more effective to apply it early in the conflict, while the parent's emotional apparatus is still under control, than after ninety minutes of scratching and clawing. In fact, child abuse is more likely to occur when a little youngster is permitted to irritate and agitate and sass and disobey and pout for hours, until finally the parent's anger reaches a point of explosion where anything can happen (and often does)."

"If punishment doesn't influence human behavior, then why is the issuance of speeding citations by police so effective in controlling traffic on a busy street? ... both reward and punishment play an important role in shaping human behavior, and neither should be discounted. Leonardo da Vinci... wrote, 'He who does not punish evil commands it to be done!.' "

"Let me hasten to emphasize that corporal punishment is not the only tool for use in shaping the will, nor is it appropriate at all ages and for all situations. The wise parents must understand the physical and emotional charactersitics of each stage in childhood, and then fit the discipline to a boy's or girl's individual needs."

Dr. Dobson continues Chapter 2 by listing specific age categories and offering a few practical suggestions. To be continued!