The following story and picture originally appeared on a Singapore-based blog. In it, the writer reveals how she bought a cane for her son when he was quite young, and has found it helpful in maintaining family discipline.
By Mandy Loh
This topic has been on my heart for the longest time, but I was not sure whether to write about it because everyone seems to be advocating positive parenting and discouraging physical punishment. Well, I finally decided that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and this is mine! I just think this post might be useful for other mummies who are trying to figure out their own parenting and discipline styles.
We first used Mr Cane on Cristan when he was three years old, when I noticed him starting to push boundaries, and even defy us.
I was initially hesitant to use physical punishment and actually took a few months of deliberating, consulting other mummy friends, and doing lots of reading up, before I finally decided to subscribe to the good ole’ wisdom that ‘to spare the rod is to spoil the child’.
And now, three years after Mr Cane first entered our home, I am more than convinced that it was the right decision!
Now, I know there are many proponents of positive parenting, advocating reasoning with the child, empathising with their ‘big feelings’ and whatnot, to gently encourage good behaviour, but seriously…how realistic is that?
Don’t get me wrong – I agree that there are some merits in positive parenting and I do employ many of such strategies to manage my kids. However, when they are not compliant, or being defiant, Mr Cane will make an appearance. I definitely do not belong to the camp that absolutely refuses to use any form of physical punishment at all.
Why? Because I feel that it places unrealistic expectations, both on the parent and the child.
For the child, is it fair to expect them to behave or think like logical adults? They are kids. They act on impulse and don’t know what’s good for them. They need parents to step up, be tough and parent them! Everybody agrees that children need to have clear boundaries drawn out but if there are no consequences for breaching those boundaries, why would children be motivated to stop behaving badly?
For the parent, I think it’s too much of a tall order for me to have to handle tantrums, misbehaviour and illogical meltdowns that toddlers and preschoolers dish out on a daily basis, all while being calm, cool and even-tempered. If I didn’t have Mr Cane as my last resort, I would probably go ballistic and scream at my kids a lot more often than I would like. I’m sure that would have a greater negative psychological and emotional impact on my kids than the occasional caning!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that there needs to be a balanced approach to raising well-adjusted and happy children. I believe children feel safe (and indeed, even loved!) when they know that there are clear boundaries for acceptable behaviour, as well as immediate and unpleasant consequences for crossing the line.
Many opponents of physical punishment argue that it is akin to child abuse, and claim that it will cause long-term psychological damage, or harm the parent-child relationship. I humbly beg to differ.
Of course, this is on the basis that Mr Cane must always be used in a controlled and moderate manner, as a consequence of last resort when the infraction is serious enough.
Lastly, if you are considering bringing Mr Cane into your home, I would advise you to build up a strong foundation of love. Tell your children often that you love them unconditionally, and that your love for them will never change, no matter what they do (or do not do.) After any form of punishment or discipline, always reaffirm them with a hug, reassuring them that you still love them, and it is merely the bad behaviour that you are correcting.
Trust me, from personal experience, having Mr Cane in the home has brought a better sense of well-being for all of us. The kids understand when I mean business, and that helps keep the peace at home. It is painful in the short-term (not only physical pain for the child, but also emotional pain for the parent), but it sure beats having spoilt and rebellious kids to deal with in the long-term!