Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Ethics of Teaching Children a Lesson

Lately many pages and online friends have touted the "benefits" of teaching children lessons. Apparently there is an idea that children must be psychologically tricked into realizing the severity of some choices they may or may not make as older children and adults. I find this deeply disturbing. Not only do some of my (supposedly) attachment parent friends consider this to be the case, but many pages that claim to be in tune with nature and natural practices also subscribe to this belief. Personally, I find this disturbing for many reasons.

1. This idea supports the choice of experimenting on children and using psychological tactics to prove a point. This is the direct opposite of what attachment parents are supposed to do. We are supposed to model proper choices, be patient, and discuss issues/solutions.

2. This type of experiment often denies informed consent. No, a parent should not consent to a child being part of  psychological trickery in order to prove a point or do research. A child should be able to consent to any such test, but children are not always capable of this. In those cases, no consent can be given and no test or experiment should occur.

3. How would you feel if someone told you one thing, which possibly upset you though you did nothing wrong, then told you it was just a trick to see what you would say or do because you needed to be taught a lesson or because someone "needed" data?

4. How would you feel if someone thought you were only capable of true critical thinking if you were tricked into it? What if everyone thought you would not understand through modeling, reading literature, listening to and participating in discussions, and volunteering? I know that I deserve more respect than that, don't children?

5. Do we really need to make children feel bad in order to teach them a lesson? No, of course not. If you feel the need to make someone else feel bad in order to teach them, then you are not a fit teacher.

6. Putting your cause above children's rights, health, and safety (whether physical or psychological) is evidence that you are not putting children first. You may say you are doing the right thing, but you are not.

7. You are breaking the care giver/child bond when you use trickery to "teach". This can shake a child's confidence and affect decision making int he future with regard to friends and also partners. Unfortunately, one very negative experience can impact these decision making skills for life.

I could go on all day, but for now this is enough food for thought. Please remember that your actions directly affect how a child behaves. Trusting your child and modeling steadfast decision making skills are huge indicators of how your child will behave later in life. Trust yourself and trust your child. We are all inherently good.