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You sometimes have to wonder why teaching children seems to be more complicated than rocket science. There are many valid debates in education as to the proper conditions required for a child to learn, whether those be concerning instruction, motivation, environment, or skills. One of the most controversial issues appears to be what to do with children who aren't properly behaved.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry thinks it is "important to view discipline as teaching not punishment." Fair enough. But teaching a child the difference between right and wrong behavior means they have to understand that there are negative consequences for certain actions. Negative consequences aren't things that make you happy - they are things that cause pain and suffering to some extent.

But that's not how everyone sees it. Some think children shouldn't feel pain or suffering. They don't think children can grasp "logical consequences." Effectively, these psychologists assert that children can't properly understand cause and effect. They prefer techniques like positive discipline claimed to help children feel a sense of connection, to be mutually respectful and encouraging, and so on. They don't want kids punished. It's as if they want a child to believe that consequences don't exist. In their opinions, children don't behave poorly - they just make "mistakes in their behavior... for problems they cannot solve."

shame we have noneShame is defined as "a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety." It's a burden one would rather not feel as it is an attack on one's self-worth. Psychologists generally don't like shame at all. But humans are social beings - we like feeling accepted. When we are ashamed, we feel like outcasts because we haven't lived up to expectations. Gaining the approval of others - especially as a child - certainly seems like a strong motivator to change our behavior. And, as the Tiger Mom has proved with "unimaginable" techniques, restoring your honor when doing what is expected overcomes shame and is an accomplishment that improves self-esteem.

Do you think it is appropriate to use shame to motivate a child to act a certain way? In which cases is positive discipline effective getting a child to behave properly? Are we hurting children by not teaching them cause and effect? Do you use shame to discipline your children? Should children grow-up knowing what it's like to feel shame? Do you think the world would be a better place if people felt more shameful about their actions?

The National Association for the Education of Young Children and I don't see eye-to-eye on many things, maybe anything. We don't even agree on a definition of "child." For example, they believe children are capable of being reasoned with. I believe that if a person is capable of being reasoned with, he or she is no longer a child.

NAEYC certifies preschool education programs. Their standards, as one would expect, reflect their philosophy. They will not give a program their seal of approval if it punishes children who do bad things. Why? Because children do not do bad things. According to one of NAEYC's publications, they simply "make mistakes in their behavior." In other words, when a child does the wrong thing, it is not intentional. Really? I was a child once. When caught, I was rather clever when it came to appearing that "I didn't mean it." Adults who believed me did me no favors.

A North Carolina preschool teacher recently told me their director informed her and her colleagues that time-out is being phased from the classroom because it is a form of "shaming." Instead, they are to re-direct the misguided child to a more positive activity. A week after being so informed, said teacher reprimanded a toddler who was beating on another child. No punishment, just a reprimand. The director scolded her for being too negative. I feel certain the director did not appreciate the irony.

Another teacher in the program came up with the idea that children who followed classroom rules would get a prize at the end of the day. A child became upset that she didn't get the prize. The director told the teacher to apologize to the child for singling her out and to give her the prize...

Concerning shame, it is dysfunctional when it is either excessive or absent. But when a child misbehaves, he should feel ashamed. Young children are incapable of feeling shame on their own; therefore, they need responsible agents (i.e. adults) to help them feel it. This process is essential to proper socialization; to an appreciation of the effect one's behavior has on others.

It Is Essential Children Feel Shame When They Misbehave


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Jul 14, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=601

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