Discipline and Love

I frequently told my children, “There’s nothing you can do so bad that will make me stop loving you.  And there’s nothing you can do to earn my love.  I just love you because you are you!”  I occasionally remind them of that, although my youngest is 28.

I frequently appropriately touched my children.  A loving, approving pat communicates love and acceptance.  I also hugged my children frequently.  There is no substitute for hugs for expressing love and acceptance.  This seems to come naturally for mothers, but father-hugs are just as important.   Fathers, hug your children!

Love for my children included discipline.  The purpose of discipline is to teach that actions have consequences.  Here were my quidelines:

  1. Discipline in love, not anger.  Wait until I cool off.
  2. Remember the purpose – to help them remember not to do that again
  3. Do not administer physical discipline with a hand – hands are for expressing love and acceptance
  4. Allow the discipline to sting, but not wound
  5. Remember to communicate why you are administering discipline
  6. Remember to be sure to remind them afterward that you do love them – enough to do this
  7. Forgive
  8. Avoid pointing a finger at them.  (That leaves three fingers pointing back at you!)  Having a finger pointed at you can be threatening or demeaning.

Consequences and Discipline

An important aspect of teaching children/young adults is the concept of consequences for behavior.  When I was young, I was told to not touch a hot object, or I would get burned.  Of course, I eventually did touch something hot, and the burn became a highly effective teacher.  My parents didn’t tell me to not touch a hot object just to be in control or to be mean.  They cared about me.

Part of teaching about consequences is caring enough to allow children to suffer the consequences of their actions and love them enough to discipline them.  The purpose of discipline is to teach that actions have consequences.  Discipline must be administered in love, not anger.  Discipline should be coupled with loving communication.  Discipline is not to be administered with a hand; hands are for expressing acceptance and approval.  A loving, approving pat communicates love and acceptance.  Restaurant waiters have learned that an appropriate, brief, gentle touch of a customer almost always raises the tip amount.

Appropriate discipline is minimized in most public schools today.  It is minimized in many homes too.  Too bad!

Parenting and Public Schools

You’ve probably read about the terrible consequences of newborn infants being denied human touch for an extended period of time.  It is not good!

Public schools deprive students of human touch.  The kids touch each other – hopefully appropriately.  But teachers refrain from touching students – for good reasons.  There are, of course, exceptions.  I teach in a culture where touch is often minimized.  I taught here for several months before I recognized the negative impact that had on me.  My wife, a trained counselor, tells me that humans need at least eight hugs per day.  I often go days without a hug, since my wife and I work in separate locations and sometimes go several days without seeing each other.  That’s tough.  The toughest part, is hug deprivation.  I wonder how much impact that has on public school children?

Parenting and Public Schools

My hypotheses about the current fundamental public school problems are simple.  First, effective parenting is paramount.  And, second, sound relationship skills undergird the entire education enterprise.

Exemplary teachers usually have solid parenting skills.  Must a teacher be or have been a biological parent to acquire these skills.  Not at all.  They can best be learned by rearing children in a nuclear family.  But, they can be learned other ways too.  Most importantly – they can be learned (and taught).

Good parenting skills teach us the importance of letting our children (students) know that we value and accept them, regardless of their behavior.  Simultaneously, we inform them (and demonstrate to them) that bad behavior has negative consequences.

More to come….

Teaching in the Public School

Two quotes:

“Teachers face an impossible task of truly educating students in a world where traditional support of their efforts by administrators and parents has evaporated.  Those young people who are entering or thinking about entering the teaching profession should think about taking lessons on how to be a magician because navigating the sea of expectations they are about to enter is fraught with distraction and misdirection.” – Alan Stocker

“…although [I] am aware I could not withstand the crushing workload and confinement of high school teaching in this country.” – Milan Kovacovic, college professor

At the school where I teach, lack of administrator and parent support and unrealistic expectations loom large.  The workload for teachers is indeed overwhelming.  Teachers are treated as employees, not professionals.  Even worse, to me, is the lack of discipline.

In addition, the great majority of students lack self-discipline and positive role models.  I felt incompetent most of last semester.  A fellow teacher, at least as old as me and a 9-year veteran just at this high school, told me recently that she felt incompetent (something new for her).  And a veteran administrator (principal) also told me a few weeks ago, “Sometimes I just feel so incompetent!”  The current systems promote this feeling of incompetency.  The public school environment is unhealthy for teachers.  We need a revolution in public schools!