Why You Should Never Grab Your Children

ImageWe have three-and-a-half children.  Sometimes we want to run away screaming.  However, we consistently get compliments about their behavior. A dozen times old ladies have given them candy or money because they were so impressed. Being a parent is complicated, but here is one rule that goes a long way.  Don’t Grab Your Children!

I see it constantly. A child is doing something that embarasses her parents. Maybe they are running in church or going after that fragile decoration on a friends coffee table. Mom or dad tells them to stop and is ignored. So they grab her. The parent physically stops the kid from doing whatever it was. This is always a mistake.

Now, I am no bleeding heart.. I am a believer in spanking at the right moment and age. The problem with grabbing your kids is that it doesn’t work. The child is out of control. They need something to control them. But when you grab them the point of control is outside their mind and body.

Imagine you are the child. You know you are doing something wrong. That is the seed of responsibility and self control. As soon as mom grabs you it is taken away.  It is mom’s responsibility to hold you back, not yours.  You learn that you can do whatever you want and someone else will make sure you don’t go too far. That is a super bad lesson to learn.

But you say, what else can I do?  The answer is simple and bears incredible fruit.
Don’t Grab Your Kids!
I like to think of it as a game.  Here are the rules.

1) You must get them to stop if you said no.

If you say no you have to deal with it.  You face it head on every single time, even if it is small.  If little Billy is climbing on a table and you have never told him he can’t then fine, you can let it go on.  But if even once you say ‘No climbing on tables’’ you MUST confront Billy until he stops.

2)  You cannot touch them  

You can’t grab Billy and pretend to hug him so he doesn’t climb up anymore. You must use your words. You can promise consequences as long as you follow through.. This means Billy has to think. The point of control is inside himself.  You are giving water and sunlight to that seed of responsibility. The choice is his.

3) You can punish them in appropriately

Billy is going to ignore you. He must have consistent consequences just like he will later as an adult. Spanking and timeouts can be good, but be creative. Most times there are more important things you can take away. Don’t think of this as doing something against your child.  You are helping them.

That’s it!  Win the ‘Don’t Grab Your Kids Game’  and soon your children will learn responsibility. They will respond when you say something and little old ladies will love them.

Tell me what you think –  Isaac

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8 thoughts on “Why You Should Never Grab Your Children

  1. Very interesting! I never thought of stopping a child something that could be detrimental to their development. I think of myself and how even though my son is only 8 months old when he wants to do something he shouldn’t I have already started to build the habit of hugging him to try to stop him. I know right now he can’t understand my words but how can I make sure that later I don’t let this habit that’s building… Rear it’s head again? Any thoughts?

    • Jesh, of course you can’t do much discipline with an 8 month old. I would question your statement that he can’t understand your words. All kids are different, but likely by eight months he at least knows when you are saying no. I think you should be telling him no and giving him the chance to stop on his own. There are certainly creative ways to begin discipline even at eight months. Again, I am not saying timeout or spanking. Don’t let yourself hug him to control him. If he is doing something wrong talk to him, tell him no several times, give him a chance to respond and if you have to physically intervene then remove him from the situation that is causing the problem.

  2. Hmmm. I guess you haven’t met my 3 (almost 4 year old). I don’t spank my children, but sometimes my child outright ignores me. He hears me. Of this, I am sure. But, when they are misbehaving, sometimes the ONLY thing that works is to grab him, physically turn his head toward me, and tell him to look me in the eyes. THEN I get down on his level and correct his behavior verbally. It’s an interesting thought, I guess. But, I wouldn’t say it is ALWAYS a mistake. I also feel like my kids are very well behaved and get complimented on it often. But, you gave me something to think about!

    • thanks for commenting! Absolutely all kids are different and I have only my experience to draw on. I do want to ask though if grabbing your four year old is really the only thing that will get his attention. What if instead of grabbing him you immediately put him on timeout and talked to him when it was over? Or some other creative punishment?

      • Point taken. There has to be some kind of physical intervention if they won’t respond to your words. So I would take the child and put them in their room and close the door. I suppose you could think of this as ‘grabbing’ them. But physical intervention should be intentional and it should be a punishment. This is different from holding a child to keep them from doing something they shouldn’t.

  3. It’s so hard to find sound parenting tips out there! Where have all the wise parents gone? THANK YOU Isaac for such a thorough teaching! Please keep writing tips for parents like us that are constantly trying to learn the best way to bring up our kids…. And I’m a witness… Your kids are the bomb!

  4. Good stuff Isaac. Also, really like the discussion after the article. We don’t have this problem yet with our 5 month old, but when discipline starts being more common, I will try to keep these kinds of thoughts in mind! BTW, I would definitely be one of those who would compliment you on the behaviour of your kids 😉

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