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Raising Kids, Removing Fear

Posted Feb 19 2009 3:50pm

(Personal Photo: Walk Home From School; limevelyn )

My daughter was unusually quiet when I picked her up from class yesterday. At first, I thought she was exhausted after a day at school for it had often been the case. However, the look on her face made me suspect that there was something more. Did something happened, I asked. Was today not a good day at school?

She nodded her head and replied, in a small voice “My teacher said that she was going to punish me – Tomorrow.” Apparently, she was given a warning because she was found running instead of walking back to class with some of her classmates.

My daughter was silent throughout the walk home. She appeared caught in her own little space. When probed, she said that she dreaded the thought of having to go to school the next day. She was afraid of what was to come. I was concerned obviously. It was only her second month in a new school, one that she is supposed to spend the next 6 years in.

Discipline Through Fear

I began to recall my investigations about punishment, namely spanking young kids, as a form of discipline. Some of my friends extol the merits of spanking on their kids’ bottoms to punish for “bad” behavior. They tell me that it works faster than pleading with them. Recently, I was shocked to read about an interview with a set of parents who proudly declared that spanking was an effective measure. They were happy that their kids were now turning out to be well-behaved older kids. The popular British show “The Nanny” recommends time-outs as a better measure compared to spanking in dealing with naughty young kids.

Fear is often used as a disciplinary measure. To get to good behavior, fear is used to stop or prevent an action or behavior that is not considered desirable or socially acceptable. As parents or teachers, it is easy to use our positions of authority to issue threats. Unconsciously, when we do this, we create fear in our kids. Kids learn from a very young age that superiority is gained through diminishing the “self” in others.

My Thoughts as A Parent

It is by example that kids learn best. Not by the long sermons or spankings that we put them through. Yet, being a perfect example or role model is not exactly an easy exercise. There is much that we hold in our baggage that produces a less-than-inspiring version of ourselves.

Perhaps, too, we can take as indications that our kids are in many ways mirroring us. Instead of meting out punishments in instances of bad behavior, we need to take a hard look at ourselves if indeed we were the ones who had unconsciously influenced them into less-than-wise actions.

There have been many times in the past that in the process of self evaluation, I felt guilty that I have not been a “good” parent either. I do not agree with spanking but I’ve been agitated, frustrated and impatient when dealing with my kids. In healing myself from guilt, I acknowledged that I had often acted out from fear or insecurity. I had not known any better.

As the walls of guilt tear down, self acceptance came. I have come to understand that no one is expecting me to be the “best” parent there is either. Best parent? By whose standard? So with grace, I accept that what is more important is my intent. My intent is to practice self awareness when it comes to my kids (and in all other matters). I choose to now think that parenting is a journey. It is a process of lifetime learning.

Raise Kids With Love
Gratefully, I thank my kids for being my little “teachers”. They help to highlight areas that my soul needs to grow in. Here is a poem by an anonymous writer that I’d like to share:

If a child lives with tolerance
he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement
he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise
he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness
he learns justice.
If a child lives with security
he learns with faith.
If a child lives with approval
he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship
he learns to find love in the world.

Last night, I used EFT to help my daughter overcome her fears. I also helped her to creatively visualize the use of magic for a better tomorrow. I put my little darling to bed last night with plenty of hugs and assurances.

Your Thoughts Please

Do you agree or disagree with the view that punishments or threats to young kids is the best or most effective way in getting them to behave? What have you been doing that helps bring out the best in your kids? What do you think will be the implications at a societal level, should we raise kids by threats of punishments?

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