Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Rod Vs Restorative Practice

 The Rod VS Restorative Practice 

All the methods have their pros and cons. I believe that there is always a place and time for the different methods to be used. The most important question at the end of the day is "which is the most effective method that will make our child learn".  

I can say that I am a very strong believer of "spare the rod and spoil your child". This is mostly true for the Chinese Singaporean family. I have seen many examples of parents sparing the rod and their children turn out spoilt and rotten. 

However, the rod must be used correctly. The rod must be used for sole objective of teaching the child and not to vent anger on the part of the parents. For me, the rod is used as the last resort, for repeated offences or serious offences (such as hurting others or themselves).  I use the rod on my 3 young children because I believe that certain actions must be stopped immediately and if that action is associated with the consequence of pain, the child will get the seriousness of their action and think twice before doing that again. 

For example, once my youngest daughter took a pen and deliberately try to poke her brother's eye. This offence is serious because it can cause harm to others and she knows from other circumstances that she is not allowed to play with the pen as it is sharp. So she got 3 strokes of cane for her action because firstly, this is potentially dangerous as she can harm her brother really bad causing him to be blind. Secondly, I need her to understand that she cannot repeat this action (which a 2.5 yr old may not fully understand if I explain to her) and so I associate her action with the consequence of pain. Of course, after the caning, I will take time to explain what they have done and why I need to cane them to teach them. 

The importance of caning as a punishment is NOT to punish the child but to send the message that his action is wrong and the consequence is severe. This is the most direct way to teach a child action and consequences, cause and effect. 

Let me give you some examples that I have come across. 

A child, age 6 used a pair of scissors to cut away her own fringe. I asked her if she was punished for it and the child said happily: "Never. My mummy says it's ok. Just don't do it again. My mummy said she did it when she was young also." 
My son knowing that this would have been a serious offence asked: " Your mummy never cane you?"
Child: " Never. I don't even know what's a cane. I never got caned before." 
My daughter asked: "why did you do that for?"
Child:" I don't know. For fun."

Of course, setting aside the parent's parenting style and the fact that the parent continued to leave that pair of scissors within the reach of that child trusting that she will not do that again, the horror is that the child took the incident so lightly and thought nothing of it because there was no serious consequences (i'm sure the parent would have scolded her) to her action. To her, she played with a sharp object and did things for fun. Well, to me, it would be a very serious offence because playing with a sharp object like a pair of scissors (no matter how small it is) can cause potential danger to the child and the other siblings. The child with access to the pair of scissors could have accidentally left it somewhere and the young sibling may pick it up to play. Even if a child is very careful, a child is afterall a child. In a fit of anger, a child holding on to a scissor unsupervised can result in very serious injury. In another story, a very careful child was handling a pair of scissors and then the younger siblings came along and tried to snatch the pair of scissors and she accidentally cut her sibling's finger. This is what we call an accident, unintentional. 

Back to the main point, a child needs to be taught the serious consequences of their action so that we may prevent(to the best of our ability) tragedies from happening. The rod is just a simple and most direct way to send the message that his action is wrong and the severity of the matter. Talking to the child after using the rod is as important as using the rod itself. The child needs to know where he has gone wrong and why he is wrong.  

As my children grow up, I realised that they grow out of the rod too. My eldest daughter no longer needs the rod as she knows very well the consequences of her actions and is able to self regulate. My son age 5 still needs reminder of the rod sometimes. 

Having said so much about the rationale for using the rod, the rod is ALWAYS used as the last resort. 

I practice timeout, restorative practice and then lastly the rod. It really depends very much on the severity of the offence and more importantly the potential harm the action can bring. It also depends on the age and personality of the child.

There is no "one size fits all" method. So as parents, we need to know our children, their personality and then decide the most effective method to make our child learn. 

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