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  #1  
Old Oct 20, '04, 5:01 am
AlanFromWichita AlanFromWichita is offline
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Default Kids, values, and "real world" ethics

There are some lessons I have learned very much the hard way, and I have decided that I will teach them to my children so they may learn and understand the world and its ways better as they go, rather than face a rude awakening from their rose-colored glasses like I did. I have been considering writing books on this and other topics, but I haven't "officially" started on them yet. Here is an example, based on my teaching my children that in the physical world, in all honesty it isn't about what's doing right, but about getting caught.

The child who desires to do "what is right" at any given time should understand that 1) they (yes, dictionaries now allow using "they" as a singular neutral-gender pronoun) may be subject to disparate sets of rules, and 2) worldly systems of reward and punishment are not based on what is right, but what is observed and assumed about your external appearance and action.

Before I knew much about God, I was motivated by doing what was pleasing to my parents. They did not have to bribe me or threaten me, although occasionally I did do wrong and was scolded and/or punished. This worked great until I got into school and found that adults make a lot of assumptions about children, and they do not follow what I now call the cardinal rules of punishment. (Note I said "punishment" not "correction." Also I've discussed these rules with a practicing psychiatrist and he agrees that punishment outside of these rules is abusive.)

Those are, a child should never be punished unless:
1) the child knew it was wrong when they did it,
2) the child knew there were options that were not wrong but chose not to take them, and
3) the child understands exactly what the punishment is for and how to avoid it in the future.

Heeding those rules would make administration of punishment more productive, but now I'd like to focus more on the reward/punishment systems and how to prepare the child not to become confused or disillusioned by them.

Put bluntly, I assert that most adults in our society use reward and punishment, or if you prefer, bribes and threats, to shape and modify children's behavior, in a way that is often detrimental to the child's spiritual growth. The detriment can come in several ways. For one, the child sooner or later finds out that bribes and threats only turn into reward and punishment when they get caught. Also, the child reporting to more than one authority such as two different teachers and two different parents, can become confused trying to reconcile different behavioral expectations. They also learn that their status, their privileges, and their esteem from the world is based not on what is in their hearts, but on what others assume about what is in their hearts based on faulty external observations.

I believe these facts are in line with Biblical truths, and a good knowledge of the Bible can help teach children to navigate these waters.

This post is getting long enough, so I'll leave it there for the moment, and plan to continue later unless discussion takes it a different direction.

Opinions, anyone?

Alan
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  #2  
Old Oct 20, '04, 10:50 am
Jennifer J Jennifer J is offline
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Default Re: Kids, values, and "real world" ethics

I'm not sure what age children you're talking about, but perhaps you should research a bit about child development first. Toddlers and young children can't do the 3 things listed. I think I see that you are separating correction and punishment, but really a 1 year old may know that pulling hair is wrong, but lack impulse control to stop themselves, esp when they can't talk to explain what they want. Anyway, I'd say your ideas might work for older children/teens but would need to be examined in the light of child development, or maybe I just don't get it?
Just my $.02 as a mom of 4 and a former teacher

Jennifer
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  #3  
Old Oct 20, '04, 10:55 am
The Barrister The Barrister is offline
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Default Re: Kids, values, and "real world" ethics

Alan - very good advice.

As I posted elsewhere, reward/punishment systems don't work for every child, can be detrimental to the child's development, and can actually result in an ever-increasing downward spiral of punishment upon punishment upon punishment, with negative returns.

Often, we can't see the damage until it's done, and much of the damage can't be seen until it's too late to correct the damage.
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  #4  
Old Oct 20, '04, 10:56 am
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rayne89 rayne89 is offline
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Default Re: Kids, values, and "real world" ethics

What forms of discipline do you use on your own children?
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  #5  
Old Oct 20, '04, 10:58 am
Almeria Almeria is offline
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Default Re: Kids, values, and "real world" ethics

I'm presumming you're talking about kids over the age of reason.

I think the key is your number 2. When I was a kid, I didn't always see the other options --I had a failure of creativity. I just didn't see the other options that were there. Part of teaching your children should be showing them how to think of the other options.

I'll probably be buying the Joan of Arcadia dvd set when it comes out, and have my kids watch that (in addition to other methods of teaching, of course). The show covered this issue beautifully.
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Old Oct 20, '04, 11:41 am
La Chiara La Chiara is offline
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Default Re: Kids, values, and "real world" ethics

Alan--I think I agree with you on just about everything you wrote. Except maybe about the use of "they" as a singular neutral-gender pronoun. I will check my dictionary on that and see if it is an approved use!
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Old Oct 20, '04, 6:48 pm
AlanFromWichita AlanFromWichita is offline
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Default Re: Kids, values, and "real world" ethics

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennifer J
I'm not sure what age children you're talking about, but perhaps you should research a bit about child development first. Toddlers and young children can't do the 3 things listed.
and
Quote:
Originally Posted by Almeria
I'm presumming you're talking about kids over the age of reason.
Dear Jennifer J and Almeria,

Yes, I did have in mind children who are old enough to reason. I've done a great deal of thinking about these things but now that I'm putting it into writing it makes it clear I have to reword this thing.

Thank you for the feedback. I'd like to reply to some of the other great comments but alas, just as I get home from one activity I have to go pick up a kid from another.

Briefly, what I'm trying to investigate are effectiveness of various mechanisms at training a child in the spiritual ways of knowing and doing what is right, while also being wordly savvy amidst a plethora of value and judgment systems at the same time. I'm not convinced that bribe/threat systems in general are capable of causing children to internalize proper values.

Alan
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  #8  
Old Oct 20, '04, 7:30 pm
Jennifer J Jennifer J is offline
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Default Re: Kids, values, and "real world" ethics

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanFromWichita
and


Briefly, what I'm trying to investigate are effectiveness of various mechanisms at training a child in the spiritual ways of knowing and doing what is right, while also being wordly savvy amidst a plethora of value and judgment systems at the same time. I'm not convinced that bribe/threat systems in general are capable of causing children to internalize proper values.

Alan
I think I agree with you, then. Bribes/Threats work in the short term and are best reserved for younger children who can't understand other consequences (or need motivated to, say, be potty trained!) Children need to internalize why something is wrong and then be able to decide not to do it BECAUSE it is wrong--not the fear of getting caught. It still may be linked to developmental issues.

Jennifer
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  #9  
Old Oct 22, '04, 10:20 am
AlanFromWichita AlanFromWichita is offline
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Default Re: Kids, values, and "real world" ethics

Quote:
Originally Posted by rayne89
What forms of discipline do you use on your own children?
Dear rayne89,

Thank you for asking. As much as I've thought about it, I've never actually tried to write it down.

I have six children, from ages 7-18, and over the years I have changed somewhat. The way I deal with the little ones now are different than the way I have dealt with the bigger ones at the same age. There are several reasons for that, partly because of changing attitudes on my part, because of changing circumstances which warranted different approaches, and some, I think, due to my "wearing out."

With limited time at this sitting I'll try to describe my former methods, because I understand them better than my current methods -- or some might say lack of a method.

When my older ones were young I was very strict, and was quick to punish. Even then, I didn't believe in explicit threats or bribes, because they could be see as negotiation and because they communicated that I didn't expect them to obey on their own. To the former point, I saw "do this or else that" as giving the child a genuine choice whether they consider the task or the punishment less desirable. I didn't want them to have a choice to consider. My theory was that I simply told them what I want and expected them to comply, and what I saw as willful defiance automatically invited scoldings, spankings or other punishment. The severity varied based on the situation, partly because I didn't want there to be a "formula" and partly, I'm afraid, due to my own feelings at the time.

Similarly I believed in reminders but not warnings of punishment if they didn't comply at first, because that leads to escalation, a phenomenon that Dobson described very well in a book I had read. If I started out with a request, then added threats if not complied with, the children learn that they didn't really have to comply with it the first time.

Overall, I tried to keep the administration of both reward and punishment unpredictable because I thought it had a stronger reinforcing effect without as quick decay if I ever slacked off in any given situation. I also tried very hard to make the nature of the reward and punishment such that I did not convey they were "good children" or "bad children" if they obeyed, but that they were always precious children who were very much loved regardless of if they did right or wrong, although right or wrong could be anywhere from pleasing to displeasing to me at the same time.

This "system" sounds pretty complicated now that I try to describe it. It was based on a lot of ideas from my own experiences when I was young, from my own ideas, and those I read or heard from various sources.

This post is long enough and my time is short, so I'll break here.

Alan
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