Well, OIMD saved me a lot of fighting words. He and I both agree that smacking hinges on morality and for at least verbal
children, it's not a
parental right. However, pre-verbal children are somehow different: the difference is communication. Because, “... 15 month olds cannot read
Shakespeare,” parents have the right to smack their (pre-verbal) children?
Whoa. Let's back up just a moment. Before I launch into a fantastic explosion of words and snake oil, let me reaffirm just why smacking is not a
right, regardless of age. This is a debate and I have to convince the judges, not OIMD.
First of all, if the child doesn't know any different, well then, it's plain abuse. Simple. Linda Morgan explains this quite well:
“... children who are too young to reason are also too young to understand the intricate “reasons” that supposedly distinguish a “loving” spanking
from mere abuse. ... Sure, many kids can eventually be convinced that spanking is good for them, but that does not prove that their initial, God-given
reaction was not valid in the same way it would be in response to a malicious beating. What proof is there that a pre-verbal child feels the
difference? None. The proof that they do not discern a difference is that children act the same the first time they are spanked as they do the first
time they are ever hit maliciously. ... From the perspective of the person being hit, the old adage, “it’s the thought that counts” does not hold
For the next point, notice the “subtle” direction of obedience: Obedience should come from the child, not from an open fist. “If smacking works then
why do we have to keep on doing it?” Again, Laurie Morgan, secularly phrased:
“How could forcing a child to obey his parents possibly teach him to follow the parent's lead? Submission to force requires first abandoning one’s
internal direction. Surely, everyone can agree that the point of discipline should not be to encourage children to deceive their parents through false
obedience. Clearly, true obedience to a parent comes from the prompting of the parent, and their love and respect. Submission to force is indirect
obedience which isn't to be valued for its efficiency because it requires mass repetition.”(2)
Let's find out a little bit more about these children. Basically, pre-verbal children are little geniuses. Out of the box, so to speak, they rapidly
acquire and incorporate phrases and body language, much more proficiently than OIMD, or I. They're obviously empathic.(3)(6) They understand temporal
discontinuities, probably basic counting and basic physics.(4)(5) It's clear that children understand core emotions, like anger and happiness. They
have empathy and can sense directed concern.(6) Not telepathy, but a simple empathy, that sadly erodes, especially in men.
(Okay, here's my magic parenting solution to smacking. Since we're talking about pre-verbal children, it starts at birth. OIMD and I agree that
smacking post-verbal child is immoral and not a right. Verbal children “only” require consistent explanations and creative non-physical
There's a better way than smacking to communicate to your non-verbal child:
Frequently train the child to associate a “call-phrase” with returning to the parent and a moment of happiness. Training is done, outside of normal
affection and daily living, by speaking the call-phrase, picking up the child and emotionally awarding them. Infants are sub-verbal and can associate
consistent sounds with meaning (how else do they come to learn language?).
Then, if the baby does something wrong, change the end emotion with something like anger, concern and/or sadness. The negative emotion (and intensity)
demonstrates to the baby that she did something wrong. A simple terse “no” should also be used. This all sounds pretty mechanical, but it only
involves extra love and babies are very trainable.(7) As the child learns to crawl (after about 7 months) training still continues but the child comes
to the parent instead.
Call-phrases are a simple (and emotionally reliable) way of establishing positive expectations and breaking them (to indicate wrong). Obviously, a
good/bad ratio should be established to maintain integrity. This training starts at birth and stays with the kid until it's no longer needed.
Although intuitive, I am prepared to expand upon this call-phrase concept, if needed.
The above should be coupled with intelligent “preemptive” parenting. At all times the parent should think ahead and be watchful. Call-phrases would
directly, immediately and easily distinguish right from wrong for the pre-verbal child, without smacking. So when your kid is about to crawl into that
thorn bush, say the call-phrase, grab them (if they don't crawl back fast enough) and chastise them as necessary. They'll know something's up and
that they had something to do with it.
1.Laurie Morgan, www.lauriemorgan.com...
5.Do Infants Understand Simple Arithmetic, or Only Physics? By Tony Simon, School of Psychology,Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta GA
30332-0170; 1/13/94 - 37888
7.The Illumanti and MK-ULTRA victims are trained (to be assassins, etc.) in this manner, but much more negatively. Sometimes these people breakdown,
but most of them are “stable”. Positive reinforcement would cause no such instability while being equally (if not more) powerful.
(Body: 795 words, footnotes: 72 words)
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[Edited on 24-9-2003 by John bull 1]