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YOUR KIDS


Sparing the Rod Finding alternatives to spanking.


children need to develop self-discipline if they’re going to be successful in pursuing their own goals and accom- plishing anything they want to in life.” This self-discipline will help carry them into adulthood.


Setting Limits Mature adults, of course, know their own limits (even if they occasionally exceed them). They don’t stay out all night if they want to keep their jobs or eat whole tubs of Häagen-Dazs ice cream if they want to lose weight. Since children haven’t learned


AFTER SHE FOUNDED the Center for Effective Discipline, psychologist Nadine Block asked kids around the world what they thought about spanking. Many of their responses, collected in the book This Hurts Me More Than It Hurts You, expressed pain that went far beyond a sore bottom. A 16-year-old boy wrote, “Why does he want to hit me? I never do anything bad. I stay out of his way. I feel real bad inside.” Block says stories like this one


illustrate why corporal punishment is the opposite of effective discipline. “The purpose of discipline is to help children learn to make good decisions,” she says. “If you spank children, chances are that stops that learning process. It may stop the misbehavior for a moment, but it doesn’t engage the learning process.”


20 S COUTING ¿ SEPTEMBER•OCTOBER 2014 Dr. Laura Markham, author of


Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, agrees — and takes Block’s argument a step further. “I don’t even use the word ‘discipline’ anymore,” she says. “I say we’re moving beyond discipline, because people confuse discipline with punishment. And punishment, the research shows, backfires.” So how can you spare the rod


without spoiling your child? Markham and Block have some suggestions.


Focus on Learning First, whether you use the word or not, remember that the goal of dis- cipline is to teach kids how to make good decisions — not to punish them for bad decisions. “It’s the discipline that comes from inside that matters most in life,” Markham says. “Our


self-discipline, Markham says they need adults to set limits for them — and these limits need to include a healthy dose of empathy. For example, if your son can’t play on the playground without hitting, you should remove him from the situa- tion and say something like, “It was too hard for you to follow the rules. Tomorrow we’ll try again.”


Avoid Double Jeopardy Aſter a playground donnybrook, some parents might add a punish- ment, but Markham argues that removing the child from the situation is enough. “There’s no meanness,” she says. “It’s just that that’s the way the world works.” Block agrees, using the familiar


(and frightening) example of a child who has run into the street to chase a ball. “They’ll know you’re upset. You don’t have to scream at them or hit them. They can feel your fear,” she says.


FIND MORE PARENTING advice for raising kids with self-discipline at scoutingmagazine.org/parenting.


JAMES STEINBERG


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