Another Gimme a Break

by kpmautner

More on the continuing hysteria over football players’ abusive behavior. Don’t get me wrong.  I do not condone abuse under any circumstances. Ask Fang.

This morning’s AJC ran a column on spanking, decrying the behavior of the latest football star who was caught beating a 4-year-old with a tree branch.  Now, I am not fond of children (any children), but under no circumstances would this be justifiable, even to me.  On the other hand, the article lost me when the author segued into a diatribe on “discipline” versus “punishment”.

The one item with which I agreed was that punishment should never be administered in anger.  We learned this early on in basic horsemanship.  You do not punish a horse because you’ve lost your temper.  You apply the stick to reinforce a command, to get attention, not to beat. And you stop with the stick or spurs or reins when you get the desired result.  Same thing with a swat on the backside for a kid who is misbehaving.  Once you have their attention, leave off.  (Ask a friend of mine who has raised four impressive young men and women to productive adulthood about her wooden spoon).

The article about which I’m complaining lists alternatives to spanking as “discipline”:  (1) count to 10 and breathe, to make sure that the punishment/discipline is justified.  I’ll go with that.  (2) identify clearly what you want the child to do (rather than what you want the child not to do – comment below).   (3) give small rewards for behavior in the direction of the desired behavior.  This sounds uncommonly like a BRIBE.  (4) praise efforts, not results (give me a break – lack of a swat is plenty of reward).  (5) give larger rewards for achieving the desired behavior.  (in corporate-speak, this is BRIBERY).

Sorry Gracie Staples (author of the piece) but this is exactly why the youth of this and the previous generation have no self-discipline, respect for authority, and no manners.  Bribery, as the Roman Empire discovered in the 300s, and the inhabitants of England discovered during the Viking invasions, doesn’t work.  Once you start paying danegeld, you’re hooked. Kids, like horses, need to be taught from foalhood that “because I said so” is law.  Reasoning with a 1200-pound animal doesn’t work.  Doesn’t work with a child either.