At two-and-a-half, my granddaughter runs a lot faster than I can run. The last time I remember running was in an intra-office softball game in 1991. After running around the bases a few times, I spent the next two or three days with a heating pad on my calves. Now I find myself having to run again, and I avoid a mental image of that scene at all costs. As the last post explained, parenting a grandchild has become extremely real lately.
Agile and athletic, Joanna Leigh can really run. She runs up and down the driveway just for sport. She also runs toward the street or from between cars in a parking lot for sport. So, when she heads that way, I scream.
Getting hit by an oncoming car is one of the many fears – some irrational, some not -- that I have as a parenting grandparent. Parenting a grandchild is about a far removed from being a grandmother as your fourth cousin thrice removed is from you.
After putting her butterfly-fairy Halloween costume on her and handing her the wand that came with it, she headed straight for the wall socket that I had once covered with the plastic gizmo that keeps children from sticking things into the electrical outlet. She had taken the gizmo out.
I shouted. Then I screamed.
Later, I read on one of the many parenting articles, books, web sites, and blogs I look at that shouting has become the new spanking for disciplining children, and like spanking, it is under fire. (Read Hilary Stout’s October 21 New York Times article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/fashion/22yell.html ).
Now what? Do I stand there and reason with her about being run over? Or electrocuted?
“I’ve worked with thousands of parents and I can tell you, without question, that screaming is the new spanking,” Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, which teaches parenting skills, told the reporter.
Furthermore, according to Stout, “psychologists and psychiatrists generally say yelling should be avoided. It’s at best ineffective (the more you do it the more the child tunes it out) and at worse damaging to a child’s sense of well-being and self-esteem.”
Well this is just hunky-dory.
Not surprisingly, the article didn’t deal with any alternatives.
Next I read that both bribery and time-outs are no-no. Yeh, no time-outs. No more “clean your room and we’ll go to the zoo.” Or “if you run out in the street, you go to time-out.” Only “punishing children with love,” whatever that is. (http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/24/punishing-children-with-love/ ).
But, he says in the original essay for the New York Times Magazine (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/15/health/15mind.html?_r=2&em ), he backed up his article’s thesis with a study. Two Israeli researchers and experts asked more than 100 college students “whether the love they had received from their parents had seemed to depend on whether they had succeeded in school, practiced hard for sports, been considerate toward others or suppressed emotions like anger and fear.”
College students. Aka, teenagers. Probably in the middle of finals or in a bar. Why not ask them at age 28 or 30, when they’ve gotten a decent job with health benefits, if they appreciate what their parents shoved into their heads?
A Get-Real Study
So, I conducted my own study. Joanna Leigh is captivated by time-outs, which she rarely gets sent to at her day-care preschool. At home, we say, “Ok, you want to go to time out?”
She says, “Yes.”
Comforting friend Teddy in time out
But she puts Teddy, her stuffed -- and not-so-fluffy-anymore -- bear friend and comfort, in time out a lot. She points her finger and says, “Go to time out, Teddy.” The she sits him down in a chair or a corner, until she needs him. She looks back at him, reminding him he is in time out.
I asked her, like a researcher, “Does Teddy like time out?”
She answered, “Yes.”
She once tried to put our lab Maggie into time out. That didn’t work out.
She knows time out better than any 19-year-old college student. That’s real. That’s settled.