Sunday, November 11, 2007

Observations of an Adult Kid Raising His Own

So let me answer that previous question from the post A Successful Child By Definition. The question was "how do you achieve a financially stable, well liked, intelligent, physically fit, good decision making, and mentally stable adult from a child?"

Just sit back, take a second, and think for a minute about the children that you know who you wouldn't want to be parents of. Consider either grown "adult" children that are just causing turmoil for their aging parents or parents of under aged children that are just terrors to be around. Then, think about the people who you know who have "successful" children and/ or well-behaved children. I recently had to do this twice. Once when my wife brought up the "who do you want our daughter to go to if we both die?" question. Then again when having the "spanking" debate. I ended up writing a few of the people I admire and asking them about their punishment techniques. They all said very little spanking followed by a discussion, and a lot of teamwork and self control.

There is sound science to support this conclusion. Just the logic of it makes sense. You know people whose children look walk and talk like their parents. No mater how hard I tried, I ended up acting a lot like my father. My home growing up was a crazy place where there was forever tension, stress, and yelling. I was very young when I vowed to myself that if I ever had kids I wouldn’t make them live in that kind of environment. If you show your children that the best way to deal with frustration is violence or even just yelling, guess what they learn. Violence, aggression, and anger is what they learn. How would they learn anything else?
Now imagine that as they grew they learned to deal with frustration with redirected effort. When they always see parents that love each other, never hear a voice raised in frustration, and are explained why they are being punished what do you think they are going to learn. They can’t learn to be angry and aggressive if they don’t know what it looks like. They are going to look and act like you no mater how much they try not to.

From the best I can tell, here seems to be some good rules to follow and the explanation of why they are so important. I must warn you that mine is only 8 months old as I am writing this. Most of my observations are really from a long memory of what it was like to be a kid myself.

1) never raise your voice in front of your child. Always keep the household volume at a level that you desire. It is a funny thing about voice volume during an argument. The more you yell, the less the person you are yelling at hears you. This is even and maybe especially true when yelling at yourself. Study after study has shown that heightened volumes and aggressive body language release neurochemicals that trigger the fight or flight mechanism. Many of these chemicals are actually addictive and can lead to a desire to provoke the action that caused their release.

2) spankings should only be used to discourage dangerous actions. Reaching for an electrical socket, playing with fire, learning to sing a country song are all really good examples. The idea is that you teach them the action that they are engaging in will cause them physical pain. It works really well when used in moderation. Remember that physical striking even when no visual damage is done; cause a release of the aforementioned neurochemicals. Used too much and you could find your kid acting out just so they can get in trouble.

3) Explain all punishments. This is crucial in forming fair and just thinking principles. If your child doesn’t understand why they are being punished, how can you expect that they will not repeat the undesirable action again? All the same, if you can not explain why your child is being punished, maybe they don’t deserve it. Maybe you are acting out of frustration.

4) Never punish or act out of frustration. I have a dog. He is very skittish. He deals with “dangerous” and threatening behavior by shaking, rolling into the submissive posture, and cuddling up and acting cute for the one who is being threatening. Along came our baby. My wife gets frustrated when she cries, starts spewing out angry curses and slamming doors. The dog first responds to her actions. After awhile, he learns that when the baby cries my wife is going to get angry. So as soon as he hears her cry, he starts shaking and freaking out by trying to jump into her lap and cuddling. You can imagine my wife is usually in no mood to cuddle. You should know why you are punishing your child, and it should not be just because they are there, you are having a bad day and have found some trivial mole hill to make into a mountain just so you can get them out of your sight. The punisment should also fit the crime.


5) Never punish your kid with violence because they are being violent. It is kind of like telling them not to smoke or drink with a beer and a cigarette in your hand. If you find that they are hitting a sibling or friend, grab them sternly, drag them into isolation, and explain that violence, hitting, kicking punching is the most unacceptable behavior. Quarantine them sternly, and make it stick. Violent behavior should be a problem that doesn’t develop if the child has never been taught it. If a child does there might be a deeper physical problem or chemical imbalance. I read an account of two children playing. One child was smacking the other one. The older child explained her innocence by saying that “she was playing the mommy”. The baby was being bad so she had to punish the baby. Spanking your child for beating on another child can have negative results for the child misbehaving as well as showing the victim child that hitting is the way to stop from being hit.

6) You must present a united front. No mater how wrong you think your spouse with their decision on a matter, you must support them. (This is of course as long as their decision doesn’t place the child in danger or jeopardy.) You two can hash out later why you disagree. If you make a mutually agreed change, then you can present it to the child together. The child will come to understand that you are thinking about them even when you are not together. If one of you override the others rules, the child will learn that punishment can be negotiated, and that mom and dad can be played against each other.

7) This one goes well with 1 and 6. Never argue in front of your children. Remember no matter how much you hate each other, they are dependant on you both. Seeing you two argue is a lose/ lose situation for them. They have to have faith that you are wise and right all of the time. If you are arguing it is only evident that one of you are wrong. Since the child can not tell which of you are wrong and which of you are right, he/ she looses faith in both of your wisdoms. It also releases endorphins and dopamine and those negative neuochemicals that can be addictive. If you have to have an argument, have it when they are not around. This practice might also help to develop more well thought and clearer communications between you and your spouse. Bonus.

8) Let your children see that you love each other. This is kind of an extension of the above. The one place your children are going learn what a healthy husband and wife relationship looks like is at home. They really can’t possibly learn that from any other place. I don’t mean roll up and do it on the living room floor in front of them. Not even too much pawing of groping. That is just weird for a child of any age. But they should hear you say “I love you” to each other all the time. They should see you hug and kiss and cuddle when together. Picture the way you would want the husband or wife of your child to treat your child if he/ she were married, and the be that way. That is what they are going to go looking for.


9) Again, another extension. Make sure your children are overly aware that you love them. If you say “no” or punish them more times then they hear “I love you”, then it is going to be hard to believe you. I would say it should be made aware that you love them at least 10 times more then they are punished. As a side note here, Don't tell them you, "have to beat them because you love them." Work the logic of that message out on your own.

10) No bribing. They should understand that if they do good things, good thing most likely will happen. But if they haven’t say cleaned their room after you have asked them 10 times, then do not come at them with a “if you clean your room, then you will get ‘X’”. This is a tricky subject with these fine lines. Distraction is good. Young children can be lured away from a less desirable activity (like playing around an electrical outlet) with a favorite toy. It is distraction not an exchange. A child can be promised something for good grades. But the agreement must be made before the child is struggling and not as a result of laxed study ethics.

11) Explain that they live in a democratic country under a democratic government; however they live under a dictatorial rule. Your punishments, rewards, and requests are not open for negotiation. If they want to live under a free and fair democracy, they can do it on their own with out expecting "welfare" contributions from you. I am now getting away form early childhood parenting which was my intent.

12) Look your children in the eyes and listen to them when they are talking to you, no matter what age. This is how they are going to learn proper conversation etiquette. It also shows them that you respect them. That directly promotes self-confidence. Knowing mom and dad respect you, forget about it. Nobody can shake you.


13) Start these practices from day one if you can. Even start them before they are born in the case of no frustration and no arguing. At the very least it will get you in practice for the day when they do reach a level when you realize they understand. I am always asking my daughter questions about what she would like to do, what she would like to wear, and other adult sounding conversations. It is so when the time comes that I need to talk to her like an adult it will feel more natural.


Well there are my assessments made via logic and study. In other words, this is what looks good on paper. I will have to write in the future about how well they are working out. I imagine that these tips will hole their water though if I can get cooperation of all involved. In the end that is the real problem. People are always ruining my perfect plans for society. If I could have a society with out people it would be perfect.

So the lingering question for normal readers, all both of you, is “what does this have to do with politics oh Lord of the Logic”? That will have to wait as again I have went way too long. Lets just say good parents “make” good citizens.



Your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to
be. - David Bly

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