Friday, July 6, 2012
Get in the Corner, Granny!
Can you imagine a world where adults are held to the same high standard of behavior as children are? Where adults are corrected, chastised, and punished for such behaviors as having a tantrum, yelling, talking disrespectfully, not picking up after oneself, etc.
That world might look something like this:
I was visiting my aunt and uncle when their 6 year old son bumped into the table and broke a vase. My uncle quickly grabbed him and swatted him on the butt several times! Hey, whoa Uncle Bill. Hands are not for hitting! Go to your room and think about what you've done! Don't come out until you're ready to be nice!
It's time for us to go or we'll be late for an appointment, but grandmother keeps dawdling. I've told her time and time again that when I say we need to go, she needs to get her shoes on and go. She just doesn't listen. Get in the corner, Granny! You're in time out for not following rules.
My coworker's cubicle looks like a tornado hit it. She never picks her purse up off the floor and always has various folders and papers scattered all over her desk and floor area. The worst part is the crumpled paper that she's tossed at the garbage bin and missed. She just leaves them there! So I put her things in a ransom box. She needs to learn responsibility for her space and things. She can earn back her purse and folders after she vacuums the office.
You know what would be particularly humorous? A time out area in Walmart for all those rude shoppers. The ones who complain about waiting in line and yell at the cashier because their hot, frustrated, tired, or whatever. I wonder what would happen if each one of those meanies had to go to a time out area for their behavior each time? Would they learn to stop being rude to the staff, or would they just shop elsewhere? My guess is the latter, but it might be a fun social experiment.
What? You think this is absurd? We can't compare children to adults!
You know what? That is exactly right. It is silly to compare the two. What is even sillier is that our expectations are even HIGHER for the little ones. The ones who don't yet have the fully developed frontal cortex. The ones who haven't yet mastered their feelings and learned impulse control.
I get that it is all done in the name of "training" them to be responsible, caring, productive adults, but maybe we've, as a culture, become a bit overzealous? Perhaps we've strolled off track a bit?
I would say I'm a very responsible adult. I've held a job since I graduated. I always pay my bills before we spend any "fun money." I'm a responsible parent, making sure my children are well taken care of.
But you know what? Sometimes I leave stuff out. Sometimes a basket of laundry will go unfolded for 2 days. Sometimes I leave the dishes overnight. And sometimes I get irritated and raise my voice or slam a door. You know, I'm kinda human.
So when my kid doesn't feel like cleaning up or has a grumpy day, I can relate. Does this mean I don't teach him the importance of responsibility or of being respectful? Of course it doesn't. It does mean that I won't be putting his toys in the ransom box or sending him to his room, though, because he isn't perfect. You know what happens when my basket of laundry has been setting out for 2 days? My husband folds them. And puts them away. He doesn't gripe at me. He doesn't hold my clothes for ransom. He helps me out. Isn't that nice of him? And him doing so doesn't make me one bit less responsible. In fact, I'm a little MORE likely to fold my own laundry next time, remembering that I got out of it last time because of his kindness.
Do you want to know what I think? Of course you do...that's why you're reading this. ;-) I think children learn what they live. My husband was never made to do a chore as a child. Not once. His father worked hard, many hours a week, to provide for his wife and 4 children. His mother was a kind, calm, doting mother who built him up and "spoiled him rotten." Only, he didn't turn out rotten. Or irresponsible. He works 55-60 hours a week to take care of us. He comes straight home, helps me with the house, and plays with his children until they go to bed. He was taught that through living it. Kids learn a lot that way.
My uncle, on the other hand (true story) was a lazy, irresponsible man. He didn't work and found every way he could to live off the system. Guess what each and every one of his children do? They do what they lived.
There are exceptions, and I know this. Some responsible parents who set excellent examples end up with a wayward child, but in such cases, I highly doubt the ransom toy box or the time out corner would have set them straight.
I absolutely believe in teaching children what is right and what is socially acceptable. I want my kids to be polite and well-behaved. You won't find my child being allowed to run wild in the restaurant or kicking your seat at a movie theater. I also absolutely believe in teaching rather than punishing and in allowing him to be human. Just like me.
Now I have a load of laundry to go fold. Have a wonderful weekend!
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Posted by Rebecca