OK. Here is an on the spot post. I did not plan on writing this, but then something happened. A mother sent a tape into Dr. Phil of her “disciplining” her child with mouthfuls of hot sauce and cold showers as punishment for such things as lying and being defiant. Since airing, the woman was brought up on charges for child abuse. Although that stirred me, it is the fact there are people out there being interviewed by major news media sources who are sticking up for this lady that makes me physically sick!
Are you kidding me? There are people saying this is OK? This is part of parenting?
I listened to an interview on a very popular talk radio show today with a so-called expert (come to find out she is a writer for the Washington Post that…wait for it…just came out with a new book, and not really a professional on anything other than putting words on paper) and a defense attorney (say no more). Both defending the actions and calling it “discipline.” All the while chuckling about times when they themselves “got the belt” when they were young, “got my hair pulled,” and “got a mouth of soap.” One of them was as dismissive and ridiculous to say “I deserved it.”
Come to find out the child actually is diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. This is a diagnosis given to children who have experienced trauma or neglect early in their lives and struggle with relationships (usually with foster parents or adoptive parents) and have challenging behavior problems. So, to treat this, she inflicts more trauma? Oh, and when was the last time you attached to someone who abused you?
One more thing, her attorney had another incredible statement: “Nothing worked. She tried everything.” What he meant was this mother had tried every punishment in the book, including some forms that should land her in jail. At what point was she going to see that punishment was not working? At what point do we as parents step away and say some punishment technique is not working? We are so quick to dismiss a positive strategy as not “having any teeth,” so we give up on them quickly, yet some parents punish, punish and punish more and refuse to see the irony when they blame it on other things…thinking “punishment” just inherently works. “She tried everything???”
The actions of this woman were reprehensible. The actions of those who defend her actions as “discipline” are despicable.
Please understand that if normal forms of punishment are not working with your child, it does not mean you should increase the intensity of the punishment. This results in incredibly harmful side effects to the children, some being more challenging behaviors. I’m not against some forms of punishment, when used appropriately. Seek good, qualified help if you are having trouble. Seek people who know, understand and are trained specifically in behavior. This is not work to be done on a couch, “talking through feelings.” This is hard. It can’t be “talked out.” Also, be careful of who you read…this lady is a reporter and she put the listener in a position to expect her to be an expert on raising children.
Be smarter. Be compassionate. Seek help if you need it.