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Public Displays of Discipline: What Would You Have Done?

We surely have been frustrated with a child in public, and can understand the challenges with disciplining outside of the home.  Mary recently encountered the following scenario:

I was at PDX this afternoon, going into the restroom with my 18 month old, when I saw a woman standing outside of the restroom holding a big black belt.  Her older son, maybe 10, walked into the women's bathroom whereby she proceeded to walk into the handicap stall [to] tell him that if he didn't stop crying he was going to get it.  He didn't, and so she belted him, three times.  Since I was changing my son's diaper I was on the other side of the restroom.  I quickly went to where she was and told her to stop, that I was going to call security...She said that this was private (and she was yelling!) and I told her that clearly it was not, since the airport isn't a private place.  I was shaking, I was so angry and I was hoping that she was going to turn her abuse towards me because I was ready for it.  I felt so, so SO sorry for this boy.  I was nauseous and my adrenaline was pumping, I couldn't believe that I was witnessing this.  I'm curious, would others have intervened?  Did I do the right thing, or did I cross over into the protected territory of 'parenting the way we think is right?'  Should I actually have called security?  Child abuse is a crime, but is hitting him with a belt a crime?  I'd love to hear others' opinions.

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Yes actually, hitting with a belt is a crime. My sister is a case worker for DHS and it is indeed a crime to hit a child with an object - any object. Hitting with your hand is not a crime in Oregon - that is "punishment". However, if an object is used, our laws indicate that it shows "intent to abuse".

Not sure if any security guard you would have alerted would have known that though. They may not have intervened. I think you were right to confront her though.

I've seen people verbally accosting their kids in public - by that I mean yelling very degrading and mean things - and have said something. Met with about the same reaction you were. And if that woman were only using her hands, I hope I still would have said something.

What scares me about those cases is that what someone is willing to do in public pales in comparison to what they'll do in the privacy of their own home. Poor boy.

My understanding is that in Oregon you are allowed to spank but you are not allowed to use objects to spank or spank above the beltline. This woman was abusing her child and should have been reported. Mary did the right thing and was very brave to do so. I do not even believe in spanking but unfortunately it is allowed in Oregon if you use your hand on the bottom.

If you had such a strong and immediate reaction I think you were correct to speak up. Even if it did no good this time maybe it gave the boy a sense that what was happening to him was not ok.

I agree with elizabeth about giving the boy the idea that there are adults who are a) not OK with what was happening, and b) willing to defend him. Not an easy situation to say the least. I think you did the right thing. I might ask yourself how you would have felt afterwards if you *hadn't* said anything - could be a useful comparison to confirm that you did what was right for you.

Not only was it "ok" to speak up, for many citizens they are obligated to report this type of behavior, anytime any place. My husband and I are both mandatory reporters, I am a teacher and he is a lawyer. Apparently in some states all adults are mandatory reporters of child abuse. Admittedly it isn't practical sometimes, like when my husband saw a woman driving with her baby on her lap. He couldn't exactly report her to DHS without her name and he couldn't get her license plate number. These laws just show that we are meant to intervene even if it feels uncomfortable.

I keep going over and over in my mind things that I should have done. I wished that I turned to the boy (who was looking at me in awe and slience) and told him that it was not right for anyone to hit him. I wish now that I would have known that it is illegal to hit with a belt, I would have pursued it. I had the same thought, that the mother didn't even have enough shame to only belt her child at home. I can't imagine the reinforcement she gets from her friends/partner in terms of hitting her kid. The mother (and the woman cleaning the bathroom) both tried to tell me it was a 'black cultural thing' which made me freak out even more, like that made it ok. I still can't sleep.

Cultural thing?!? Definitely not. Plenty of white people beat their children with belts, too, and think it is "discipline". You were right to speak up. Imagine what he must go through at home when there's no one to intervene... :(

I cant understand when parents threaten that if the kids doesn't stop crying they are going to get it... like that will make them stop crying to be scared and sad?

I personally wouldn't confront someone with my 18-month-old in tow. But I would have immediately notified the closest authority.

Yuck! That sounds scary and so uncomfortable. Good for you for saying something.

I always thought the law said that it just wasn't okay to leave marks, even if you were using an object? In any case, good for you for stepping up, Mary. There is such a fine line between parenting/disciplining in a way I just find distasteful and a way that is abusive, whether by the letter of the law or not. I think you were witness to the latter and showed everyone, mother, child, and your child, that this isn't okay.

And you're not going to convince me that it's cultural. I imagine there are plenty of black families out there who wouldn't dream of treating their child this way. It's an ignorant and desperate thing, frankly, but not cultural.

Ugh! I've been there. I know just the helpless, angry, fear you experienced when seeing a child abused. I had an incident when I was in my early twenties and was living in KY. A woman in the Wal-Mart parking lot was yelling and shaking her 3 year old. I told her she needed to stop and she slapped the boy across the face just to prove to me that SHE was in charge! She wanted me to walk away, but I wouldn't.
I stood by her car and asked a passerby to tell security. I felt like shaking and smacking this Mom for doing that to her child.
She manhandled the boy into the car and drove away before the security people ever got there. And when I tried to report it to the store they said it wasn't their business and I was basically told it wasn't mine either. I hadn't gotten the license number or I probably would have called the police.
I still feel horrible about it, because I fear that the boy got even worse once they got home.
Yuk!

I dread flying with my kids alone.
Rarely we fly to a location with a direct option and layovers on the way home tend to make us all short and disagreeable.
I have had to drag my two little ones into a bathroom stall and try to reason with them to settle down and be my helper, get to the gate etc.
Once my son was bawling and baby was crying and I was crying and a lady asked it she could help. I was threatening my son and did spank him on the tush but nothing else. I would've loved to push him/them out and have her finish the flight for me, but they are my kids. What could she have possibly done to make it better?
It did take a few minutes for all of us to calm down, regroup and get out of there, but we did it without beating or abandoning.
I think if she had offered something specific, hold him so I could go or such I might have taken her up, but I wasn't thinking straight and didn't really want to give my child to a stranger in any airport. So.....not sure what else to say or want to hear.

I have worked harder to not let the bad flights home get to me as much and try to fly less so this happens less or not without hubby. Kids will grow up and be better passengers :-)

How sad. I'm so glad you said something so at least the boy can hear that it's not OK. :(

Aside from the violence, how sad that he's getting the message that he will be punished for his feelings.

You are right: it's not a private issue when others can hear/see what's going on. I think you were right to point this out, but you shouldn't expect to change the family's legacy...and that is partly what makes it so frustrating. It seems as though there are parenting issues that I don't think are reasonable or effective going on with the belt mama (10yo boy in the women's room, for starters), but the more I think about this, the more it bothers me that we can know so little and yet be so opinionated on this site. I'm not trying to minimize truly abusive situations, but the "duty" to report a caretaker to DHS should not be taken lightly at all. Like spanking, it should not be done in anger, or out of reaction to my own charged emotions. I think we have to be careful as UM readers and activistas that our 'activism' doesn't perpetuate the stress we already feel with our children in public. That said, you should always speak up if you see a parent loosing it, but maybe start with an offer to help?

I honestly don't know what I would have done...you're right, there's such a fine line between parent's rights and children's rights. I'd love to hear some professional opinions on this.

It may not be a "black" thing that you experienced, but it's definitely gotta be a learned thing...something that one stranger's confrontation isn't going to change, especially at a moment when the mom's brain has gone over the edge. I'd say start off the conversation by having empathy for the mother (who knows what road led her to this place of abuse!) and see where the conversation takes you.

Thanks for posting this and all the best!

I'm with Jillian on the empathy road. I think it's our first reaction to be completely horrified on behalf of the child but then you have to take into consideration that it takes A LOT for Children's Protective Services to intervene. So more then likely that child will have that person for a parent for their entire life. Then it becomes, how best can I affect this child's life? Will this Mom listen to me if I approach her with anger and judgment or if I connect with her? So maybe saying things like:
I know that it can be frustrating dealing with temper tantrums can I watch your child while you take a breather? Or I've tried these parenting tricks that work really well for us in this situation.

Not that I'm discouraging people from reporting abuse, it's also very important. Just saying that another tactic in the situation described might be more affective.

Hmm. I may be the only person here who isn't certain that this is abuse. A very delightful school friend of mine, now a well regarded prosecutor in the Midwest, told me that her parents used to whip her with a belt weekly, and that she deserved it. She's an amazing person and has a seriously wonderful, close, and loving relationship with her parents, who also seem to be delightful people (I didn't know them when my friend was a child). The dad had been in the military for a long time, and her mom is German. I doubt they whipped her for crying, but it's hard for me to tell if this boy was being whipped for crying or for whatever was happening before that.
I can't see myself whipping my own child with a belt, and this situation doesn't sound like a good one, and I hate to be the only person who doesn't issue a blanket condemnation, but there you go. Whether it's against Oregon law is, to me, a separate issue from whether I personally think it's abuse.

On the other hand, at the coast this weekend I was having ice cream with my family in a noisy food court near a woman who had to older children and an infant in a carriage. The infant started to fuss, then cry, then ended up in a full on wail. She kind of rocked the carriage but didn't pick him up - just went on eating her ice cream with her two older children. This went on for maybe five minutes, as I tried to work up the courage to offer to hold the baby without seeming judgmental. Then a man, apparently the father, showed up at the table, looked down at his crying infant, adjusted the seat, and didn't pick him up. Finally, with our entire table trying not to stare at them, they left, the baby still uncomforted.
The mental tension between what I believe about caring for children and not knowing this family's situation was pretty paralyzing.


You did the right thing and I admire your courage. I'm not against a little swat or spank but that sounds like abuse or at least borderline. I don't know if I would've confronted the woman--I probably would've called the authorities. And "culture" is definitely not a valid excuse. I don't care if it's a widespread "cultural acceptance," wrong is wrong.

No child ever "deserves" to be hit with a belt. Three times. For any reason. Violence is not the way to solve problems in this world. It isn't parental authority to hit a child like that. It's violence. If I was upset with something anyone else did and I chose to hit them three times with an my belt, it would be called assault. This is no different. Amen to someone calling a spade a spade.

I am so sorry this happened to you and to the boy. I would have done the same thing in saying something. Previous posters are correct about hitting, spanking being legal in Oregon as long as a mark is not left. CPS takes reports involving belts more seriously b/c of potential for harm. You are probably not going to change this mother's behavior but it is good for the boy to know other adults don't agree with this and that you tried to protect him. And, sometimes change is a long process. Maybe that mom will think about what you said. Or maybe it will take several other people saying things to her and then she will think about it and maybe change. We can hope. All we know for sure, is that it is definitely not going to change by not saying something. As for the black, cultural issue, I think there may be something to that. I taught in inner city Washington DC for two years-only white teacher in the school. Almost all the parents hit the kids and you know what, as horrifying as it is, many teachers did as well....used yardsticks to keep the kids in line. It was shocking and I remember realizing the huge chasm between what I had learned was supposed to happen in schools and what was actually happening. I too feel passionate about how children are cheated and I can relate to you actually shaking. I applaud your advocacy for the boy.

I'm a mandatory reporter as well and I believe, even if a hand is used to hit - if it leaves a mark or a bruise it is abuse.

I've made quite a few calls myself and if I could offer any advise, it is better to call than not. It is the screener's and supervisor's job to choose what to do with the information. They'll let you know if what you saw/heard is reportable or not. Also, there might be a few calls they have received on this family, but not acted on and your call might be the one they actually act on.

Violence against children is not a black or white or any other racial or ethnic 'thing.' Subsets of every racial and/or ethnic and/or religious and/or national-identity group abuse children. Sadly, tragically. Please take care to avoid assumptions that a subset that condones corporeal punishment represents the whole group. Such assumptions can blind us to abuse happening within our own subsets and groups--as well as further prejudice amongst us.

I guess if I ad confidence that the child welfare system worked, I would be all for calling all the time. I have been a mandated reporter. And I took a six month tour of the foster care system as a child. The homes that children are placed are often worse than what they have left. And who is removed and who is not is pretty arbitrary.

I'm all for access to quality affordable child care, equity in pay for women dominated jobs, and many other supports that can reduce the pressure on families. We know that domesticviolence increases during times of greater financial pressures. I think it can make us feel good to have "intervened", but it can actually make the situation worse for the child who may get it worse when they get home or may end up in a poorly run foster system. We need to help families find better ways.

About the cultural thing I remember a therapist friend of mine responding "Well, then I must've been raised as a black child" when it is posited that black people spank and white people don't.

What is factual is that historically through today, black childen particularly black male children pay a price for what is considered "misbehavior" when they do it, and "spirited" when another child does it. We know that discipline is meted out differently based on race in our school system(see the Juvenile Rights Project study) as punishment is in our justice system. Fifty years ago your son might be lynched if he stepped out of place, today he might be tracked to special education or shot in the back by law enforcement(in the extreme) This increases the pressure on black parents to "make their children behave".

ProtestMama, I appreciate your words about increased pressure to make children behave. Intellectually I get it, and I've heard that before. I do have to say it makes me so sad to hear it. It's almost as if it that makes it okay to parent more harshly, and yet, how could you not if that's your reality. There's a sign up at the community center we go to (Peninsula Park), something along the lines of "10 things to know if police pull you over" and it makes me so angry and sad to think that this is there. I've NEVER seen one at any other community center we go to, that's for sure. It's like I can just feel the vulnerability of the young black children there, vulnerable in so many more ways than I can ever know. I don't know what I'm saying, other than to say thank you for just speaking the truth about something I don't know anything about. I stand by my earlier statements about violence, but I can appreciate what you're saying.

And, for what it's worth, I was thinking about the violence thing after I wrote it, thinking I should temper it a bit, but then realized I wasn't going to because if the situation were a man hitting a woman like that, we would all be outraged and not be calling it anything but domestic violence.

Maybe this is obvious, but the way we see things isn't the way everyone sees things, and it isn't the way they've always been seen.
http://www.newsweek.com/id/195119/page/1

That breaks my heart for the young boy. I can't imagine ever raising a hand to my children - they are precious, delicate souls that I'm responsible for nuturing and protecting. While not all parents might feel that way, I'd want to protect any child getting abused by someone else.

You were very brave and courageous!

the one and only time i've witnessed anything worth intervening for in public i quietly talked to the lady about how i understood her frustration and to take a breath, etc... she looked like she wanted to kill me at first, but she calmed down enough to take her child out of the store. i don't know what happened after that. my thoughts as to stepping in are that i'm afraid the parent will take it out on the kid more because a stranger saying something embarasses them or makes them madder. that's why i quietly and sympathetically said something.

I wanted to clarify earlier comment about it possibly being more common in black community to hit or spank. I was in no way trying to say that people of other ethnicities and races do not use corporal punishment, or that only people who are black do. I am sorry that I didn't express this more clearly. I just wanted to share my experience working in an almost exclusively African American community for several years. I had many parents there explain to me that their children had to be "tough" and "in line" to survive in their world and that was why crying, whining, misbehavior, etc was punished. Sorry for not being more careful in my post with wording. It is a sensitive issue. I couldn't agree more with protest mama and kim about the inefficacy of the child protective services system, the racism inherent in our legal system and the vulnerability of children who are black in our society. Thanks for the discussion

I'm a huge 911 caller -- I call if I see a child being abused in public (once, a woman kicked her child in the stomach in Zupan's -- still makes me shake to think about it), if I see a child without a car seat, if I see a child without adult supervision. I've decided to do it this way because I frequently have my own children with me and I have a fear that the crazy person will turn their violence toward us...

Kim, thank you for your comment about our outrage at a man hitting a woman (or any other adult for that matter hitting another adult). The first thing we would do is encourage the victim to file charges and get out. Why are children not valued as much when it comes to violence? It deserves any attention that we can give, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel. Children are not possessions to be dealt with the way parents see fit (within reason). The statistics show that children who are subjected to violence end up being perpetrators as adults. We need to educate in order to stop the cycle.

You did EXACTLY the right thing! Bravo for being brave enough to say anything at all. I am proud of you.

MJ

....and then there is the violence against children that results in death in publicly funded schools and the parents are powerless to do anything and all that happens is the teacher switches schools and is not charged with a crime. This happens in Oregon as well and I am so glad this is finally seeing the light of day. In recent weeks a poster here accused me of spreading lies about what happens in schools to kids with disabilities. I know this strays from the original post but this is a hard won battle for this information on child abuse and death against children with disabilities in schools to be recognized...http://edlabor.house.gov/newsroom/2009/05/gao-report-finds-hundreds-of-a.shtml

You handled it much better than I would have. I would have lost my shit completely. It takes guts to confront people when horrible stuff like this happens, and hopefully that boy will not need therapy when he gets older. Good for you for pointing out her disgusting behavior. I doubt it will change anything, but damn, she needed to hear that it was wrong.

Good for you. As someone who was abused as a child, I had no idea until I was in my 20's that it was illegal for my rage-a-holic father to be so violent with me and my sisters. Had someone ever dared to intervene, I probably would have figured out sooner that it was my fathers problem and not mine. The irony is that I was a good kid, as clean cut as could be, but it was impossible to keep him from exploding over who-knew-what. Maybe that little boy will start to sense that his mother should get a grip, act like the adult and start setting an example for managing strong feelings.

I agree with catmom....that it is all perspective.
I lived in a small town in Italy for five years. The children were nurtured, and disciplined by the whole community.
I saw my corner grocer spank kids he caught stealing...with his suspenders. The town priest spanked kids with a switch. I even saw the mayor spank a boy in the middle of the town square for "borrowing" a girls bike.
And none of the kids I knew in this town acted or felt abused. They'd joke about it..."How many times have you got the switch from Father Saponara for peeing on the statue of the Madonna?' "Man,I lost count."

I'm not advocating belt use, we should honor our children.

But, at least in my social set, there seems to be a fashion toward leniency. Many of my dear friends rarely say no to their children. They are raised without much structure or boundaries. And then, they start school. The system deems them hyper-active, and then they are medicated.
I personally would have rather had a few spankings.

We're going to have to disagree on this one, and I know it's far away from the OP and probably belaboring a point, but I would just need to say that effective discipline is possible without hitting. It's really quite simple to say "no," but not everyone does, you're right, lea. If spanking were as effective as folks seem to think it is though, then I guess the answer to how many times someone had been switched for peeing on a statue would be "only once." Spanking doesn't do anything more than stopping misbehavior in the moment, same as time-out, taking toys away, whatever. With children, it takes repitition, regardless of what you do to send the message. It's not some magic "well, this will make them never do it again" method. To me, honoring children means assuming they can learn from the real world of consequences and limits, not from being hit in order to figure it out.

I get so frustrated when folks use the "well, I was spanked and I'm fine" thought process. It makes them figure there's no need to look for other alternatives, and, in my opinion, they're missing a whole load of techniques for raising wonderful people.

You could also argue that if it were really quite simple to say no, that no one would ever be spanked, or given a time out, or a "toy time out," or other approaches that you believe are ineffective or abusive.

The original question has me thinking quite a bit about the definitions. What is abuse? At what point do someone else's choices as a parent constitute abuse? Do their actions have to damage a child's sense of self, or of right and wrong, or destroy that child's relationship to their parents or society? At what point to I have enough information to make that judgment? And at what point does my relatively brief experience as the parent of just one relatively easygoing child qualify me to pass that judgment?

One hopes that the state has drawn a bright line for mandatory reporters so it is clear to them when they are required to act - but even then, the final judgment is not theirs - it belongs to the state. And one hopes that the state system, despite all its burdens and flaws and good intentions gone awry, would then be able to make the right decision.

It is illegal to hit a child with any object other than an open hand on the bottom. DHS would have investigated had you called it in. If you are like most people you do not carry around the hotline # for reporting abuse - you can always call 911 and all police reports of child abuse are cross reported to DHS Child Welfare who will follow-up with an investigation if they feel it is needed (hitting with a belt in a public place would be followed up immediately).

Lizzy:

you would HOPE that it would be followed up immediately. Some kids I knew were beaten, starved half to death, basically terrorized. I called, school called, many people called th child abuse hotline. Their mother was educated and "intelligent" so the reports were concluded as unfounded. The children were finally removed years later whn the younger child went into the school office and pulled up her shirt revealing years of scars. Even then the "system" wanted to reunite these children with their mother to the point where the case worker altered the custody report to the court, removing the most damning incidents and the police reports. It took me and my state assemblyman (in CA) to stop that train. These children are now adults and they are irreparably damaged.

Meanwhile the same agency took a baby away from its mother for the weekend because her child care provider didn't like that she did extended breastfeeding and cloth diapers, so she reported that the baby was malnourished and had a suspicious rash.

So, the system does not work. I used to work with DV batterers who knowing I was a mandatory reporter would allege child abuse against the woman they battered as revenge. I had to report regardless. I had a one uy give me an incomplete report which he held over his partner's head until she took him back and refused to assist in the prosecution of him for DV.

Again, I say calling someone out or calling on someone may make you feel good in the moment, but until the child welfare system is reformed that's about all it does. Read Dorothy Roberts "Shattered Bonds" about race and the child welfare system.

As a current manditory reporter, I can tell you that CPS has been really prompt at follow up on the cases I have reported. It was gratifying. In these cases, there was not other domestic abuse in the home, but what was going on was pretty scary. I am glad I made the calls, and things have improved in the homes, but these are also people who are in the system and are getting ongoing help. There are times I have seen kids not returned to homes they should have been returned to, and times where the children never should have been returned. This was mostly when I was working in foster care years ago in Texas. Family reunification is huge there.

I have to chime in. It is NEVER EVER OK to hit a child, with or without an object, under any circumstances.

Really, would we be so tolerant and offer our empathy if we saw a husband taking his fist to his wife? A boss punching a subordinate because they did not perform? Then why do we make excuses for parents?

Catmom, the story of your friend is tragic. Research shows the need to worship and deify parents is so strong that many abused children are unable to acknowledge the harm done to them; it would be psychologically shattering to really understand that they were abused by the very people they worship.

Please, PLEASE, read the work of the brilliant philosopher and psychologist Alice Miller to fully understand the impact of child abuse. http://www.alice-miller.com/index_en.php

Many years ago, I saw a mother walking down the street berating her young daughter, who was crying hysterically. I was so angry with the mom. Then I saw something that changed my entire perspective. Another women came up to them and said to the mom, "it sounds like it's been a hard day." The mom immediately stopped berating the daughter and started sharing with the stranger.

I've never done anything like that, but was so impressed at how the stranger was able to take the woman's anger and get her to talk about where she was at, which at that point was the biggest issue. I hope one day I can be that person who helps someone out who really needs it.

Well, hmm again. My friend is a happy and highly accomplished person now, but if I were somehow able to persuade her that her parents abused her, she would be psychologically shattered?
It would be interesting to hear her debate this point. She spends a lot of time thinking about right and wrong and perpetrators and victims and she has rarely lost a case.

Some people think it is abuse to ever hit a child. Most Americans, by about a two to one margin, do not - a number that has stayed steady for many years. Comparing the discipline of a child to the relationship between adults isn't always useful - even the most GD people among my relatively GD peer group have occasionally pinned a child down to change a diaper or get them in a carseat. If I caught a man sending his wife to her room or giving her a time out, wouldn't I be looking at an abusive relationship anyway?

Scratch the research on physical punishment and you'll get a pretty wide range of opinion. I thought this summary was pretty interesting: http://faculty.biola.edu/paulp/nztabconts.47.pdf

It includes a statement that gives me more context for judging the original post, based on the estimated age of the child:

"Overall, studies that adjusted for pre-existing differences in children found mostly beneficial outcomes of nonabusive spanking for children up to 6 years old, but mostly detrimental outcomes for children 7 or older."

One problem with never reconciling with the abuse of one's past is that one is then a prime candidate to abuse one's own children. And so the cycle continues...

I'm siding with psychohistorian Lloyd DeMause, paraphrasing him in saying hats off to all the women over all of time who have gone against the tide of violence by making the choice NOT to hit their children. It is in these small, individual acts that the seeds of empathy are planted, and the whole of humanity may, little by little, move away from a kind of fractured barbarism to wholeness.

I too would have "completely lost my shit." I certainly have digested all of the posts on this topic and see the value in many BUT the bottom line for me is this...any woman who is angry enough to take off her belt, threaten her child in public and take care of this "business" in a bathroom stall is an animal. I don't care what precipitated it. Sorry...that's how I see it and I would have done the exact same thing you did. Good for you.

The child's temperament is a factor in how they will respond to varying types of discipline. Trauma is subjective and spanking to some kids is part of the program and to other kids it is the experience that creates a mental health disorder (yes, even "nonabusive spanking"). In my work with family's that spank my token response is, "I will not judge your choice to spank but will hope you will give me a chance to change your mind and show you another way." I work with kids that have serious behavior problems and positive methods trump any punishment each and every time. Kids are so powerless as it is and just giving them some choice and control in their life can change a kid overnight in some instances. You will need to adjust discipline methods based on your child's temperament though. There is not a one size fits all method in my opinion. A strong-willed child will need a lot more choice and control but also absolute consistency in boundaries and additional up front practice on coping skills for stress because they will blow more quickly. A sensitive child will become inconsolable the moment you raise your voice. What I remind parents about the sensitive child is not to heap on punishments because crying IS the punishment for them. It does not teach them anything to cry, lose a privilege, and get a lecture. After they get over crying and are calm you can usually just process what happened with them positively and help them come up with ways to avoid the problem next time. Sensitive kids are more prone to mental health problems from spanking.
I like the post about the parent that approached the Mom yelling at her child and asking the Mom if it had been a rough day. Parenting is hard and especially when there are additional factors such as the nations terrible history of racism and different rules for different kids. The spirited child vs. the disruptive child garbage. It is important to reach out unconditionally to a parent under stress; easier said than done when they are out of control I know.

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