Seven Parenting Myths
edited: Tuesday, February 13, 2001
By Jayne A Major
Posted: Tuesday, February 13, 2001
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Why make it so hard? A look at seven common misunderstandings about discipline, with proven alternatives that may surprise you.
Myth #1: Punishment and discipline are the same thing.
People often use the terms interchangeably, but they are two very different concepts. Discipline means to teach. Punishment means to cause emotional or physical pain. Punishment builds fear and leads to avoidance. Discipline teaches what to do, rather than what not to do.
Myth #2: Parents have a responsibility to control their children.
Parents have a responsibility to teach and to protect their children. No one wants to have another person control his or her thoughts, emotions and behavior. Do you? Children donít either. This myth is the source of countless parent/child power struggles. Learn to work with your children, rather than against them. You will be surprised at how quickly struggle turns into cooperation. It is like learning how to rub the catís fur the right way instead of the wrong way.
Myth #3: If parents donít punish their children, someone else will end up having to do it, such as the police.
Quite the opposite is true . Children who are taught self-discipline will not be easily influenced to behave in inappropriate ways. Children who feel that someone else is in control of their lives, such as an authoritarian parent, will expect to have someone else to tell them how to think, feel and act. They havenít built an internal point of reference for deciding right from wrong, therefore, they can be easily influenced to do what others tell them to do.
Myth #4: Parents have the right to spank their children when nothing else works.
Traditionally, spanking has been quite common in raising children, in fact, so common that it is assumed that a parent has a RIGHT to spank a child. Most parents would give up spanking if they knew easier ways to handle discipline situations. In fact, there are so many superior techniques for raising children today, that there is no need to spank. The issue isnít so much a matter of what is a parentís right, but what action will really create the outcome the parent truly desires for the child, i.e. a child who has good self-esteem, is inner-directed and self-disciplined.
Myth #5: It is necessary to break a childís willful rebelliousness with punishment. Pain is part of life; it canít be helped.
While pain is part of life, it doesnít mean that pain has to be a way of life, as it is in so many families. Children are much more motivated to participate in their families by getting along with each other, then they are motivated to be rebellious. It is the parentís responsibility to show children how to get their needs met through cooperation, rather than through struggle.
Myth #6: Punishment builds character; it is human nature.
It is human nature to avoid punishment. Punishment creates fear, isolation, defensiveness, anger, hurt and mean-spiritedness. Positive character traits are built from love. These traits develop when we are in a loving space and comfortable enough to find peace within ourselves. Each person has an internal point of balance where his or her true nature resides. Punishment, fear and external control makes us off balance.
Myth #7: The best way to to parent is to do what our own parents did. It canít be so bad, after all, ďlook at how well I turned out.Ē
It isnít likely that your parents were trained in the best that is known about how to raise children. Abusive and neglectful practices have been passed down for centuries. You donít know how well you would have turned out if your parents had practised todayís superior methods of raising children..