I’m preparing to speak next week on child maltreatment. Part of my research has included looking at ways children are mistreated. As I’ve been reading news articles, I’m struck my how many parents and other caregivers start with a consequence or a strategy and push it too far.
Some of the instances of child maltreatment I’ve read about include:
- A grandfather who forced his three grandsons to hike the Grand Canyon as a method of getting them in shape and forcing them to lose weight. He restricted their food and water consumption and kicked and hit them to force them to continue to hike the Canyon.
- A father who spanked his son with so much force that he left bruises on the child’s buttocks and upper legs.
- Parents who forced a child to kneel for nine hours a day with his hands tied behind his back for TEN days before he ran away. If the son moved from the kneeling position, he was beat with a stick. The parents stated that they did not intend to hurt their son. They were punishing him for cheating in school.
In each of these cases, adults tried to change behavior by taking drastic action. What parents tend to forget is that time is on their side. An appropriate consequence may not immediately change the behavior. However, the more that a child consistently experiences meaningful and appropriate consequences, the more effective the consequences will be.
Too frequently, parents aren’t consistent enough in applying consequences or they expect changes to quickly.
Remember, time is on your side.