The mistaken belief that we have to doooo something

Christine C.

From the archives: Posted on 14th July, 1995

The mistaken belief that if parents don’t “do something”, like impose a penalty or bribe to change their child’s behavior, then the child will continue the unacceptable behavior forever, is the rationale underlying conventional parenting: children have to be “taught”, like an animal in the circus, through reward and punishment, because they’re incapable of absorbing ideas any other way.

Do you really want a child to learn not to hit because he wants to avoid paying a fine, or because he intuitively understands that hitting is harmful; i.e., if he himself doesn’t like getting hit, chances are that others feel the same way, and that is the reason he would want to refrain from hitting.

Give him time. Keep telling him how you feel about the hitting, move out of the way when you see it coming, but most of all, be patient: it will pass.

Christine C., 1995, ‘The mistaken belief that we have to doooo something’,