Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Children and Boundaries

Jane (Cozy Reader) wrote yesterday about a news segment she saw. According to this report, a new study shows that children who are spanked are more likely to be aggressive. Jane gives a long and logical response in which she points out that an occasional spanking might reinforce a concept that is not being learned by a child and that some alternate disciplines also have potential negative side-effects. Near the end of Jane's post there was a paragraph that rang a bell with me:

Children want parameters. They want boundaries. As parents it is our task to set those boundaries for them. When they understand the expectations they will be much happier. When we set forth the consequences, then there are no surprises.
We do our children a disservice when we do not teach them that there are consequences to their actions.

Kathryn, of Suitable for Mixed Company, made a comment that also resonated to this long-time teacher, mother, and grandmother. She told of talking to kids who were shopping in her bookstore. She often had to explain to them appropriate and acceptable behaviors for the bookstore setting; and the students often seemed almost relieved to know that someone was watching them and that someone thought they were capable of good behavior. She wrote:
These kids were starved for somebody to tell them what constituted good behavior. They wanted to know what the unwritten rules were that other people seemed to know, but they didn't.

As a society, we are working hard to provide our children with every imaginable advantage; but often, parents and the adults of our society are failing to provide the social skills necessary to be successful in adult life. In order to learn how to interact successfully and productively as adults, children must learn what behaviors are expected. It is essential for them to learn that other people have rights and feelings, just as they do. This ability is, according to psychologists, one of the defining differences between contributing members of society and the sociopath who drains society.


Jane said...

Joan, thanks for mentioning my blog and thanks for your added comments on this subject. There have been many times I have wanted to intervene when I have seen the behavior of some children. The parents are ignoring them or placating them. But, I would probably find myself in a whole lot of trouble if I did!

Kathryn Judson said...

Thanks for the mention - and for expanding on what I said. I've linked to both your post and Jane's.