Monday, November 3, 2008

The Pearls Advice For A Child Who Strikes Others

Below is a section taken from the Pearl's book To Train Up A Child, chapter nine. To avoid accusations that I am taking the writer's out of context I have included a link to an online copy of their book. If you have any doubts about what I write, please click on the link.

If you have experience with children, then include how you handled the following situation. Perhaps if an overwhelmed parent comes to this site and finds a variety of approaches to their problems then that parent will be less susceptible to listen The Pearls.

As my wife was counseling with a young mother, I watched a most amazing scene unfold. The first of two children (a two-year-old), upon failing to get attention, picked up a plastic toy wrench and began to pound his mother's arm. Occasionally, he would reach up and poke her in the face.

This isn't amazing. It sounds like normal two year old behavior.

The parent can very briefly model using a wrench correctly and encouraging the child to copy them. When the toddler does so the parent can praise the child and then ask the child for a high five. "Give me a high five for using that toy correctly, son." At least this is what I did when my kids were very young.

If the behavior continued and nothing else worked then I would take the wrench from the child and firmly tell him/her "No, don't hit." Yes, your child will probably cry but be comforted. Once your child understands that his/her parents' no really does mean no then your job as a parent is much easier. You don't have to be overly punitive to teach your child to listen to you. All you have to do is be consistent. By the way, you don't have to take the toy away forever, just for a few hours.

This was not new behavior. We had previously observed these "way of Cain" acts of violence perpetrated on the little brother as well as on the mother.

If this child has a continued problem with striking others then it would seem wise to discover the roots of his behavior. The Pearls give no background about the family. Is the father respectful of the mother? Is the child modeling behavior that he has witnessed in the home? What are his television viewing habits? Some children are more prone then others to copying the violence that they see on tv. Have the parents indicated that certain food, schedule changes etc have a bearing on this child's behavior? Treating only the symptoms without addressing the real problem will only cause the child's negative behavior

Just as an aside, you can prevent some jealousy from an older sibling toward a new baby just by asking the older child to help you. For example, when you change the baby's diaper, have the older child bring you a diaper and praise them for their help. Tell them how lucky the baby is to have such a great and helpful brother/sister.

Considering that Cain killed his brother Abel, I am guessing that the Pearls included the reference as a scare tactic. There is nothing in the bible, after all, about two year old Cain hitting infant Abel.

As the talk continued, little Johnny got tired of assaulting his mother and turned on my wife. After the first blow, almost without diverting her eyes from the mother, and with no change of expression, she picked up a matching plastic toy. This was not to fight back, but to train.

Notice the word "train" in the above section. The Pearls sometimes call physical punishment 'training" instead of spanking, striking or hitting. So, although this story obviously has an adult hitting a child with a plastic wrench, the Pearls can claim that this isn't happening because they are 'training' the child.

The mother is the one who would most benefit from what was about to occur. As little Johnny drove home the next blow, swiftly and with more than matching force, my wife struck

Although spanking might not be the best response to the child's misbehavior, it would be much better for the mom to swat her toddler's bottom then to allow a non relative to strike her son. To prevent sexual abuse, children should know that they can tell an adult who is not their parent that they don't want to be touched.

Also, by picking up the wrench and striking the child, Debbi Pearl has lowered herself to his age. She hasn't taught the child that he shouldn't strike someone with the wrench, just that you shouldn't strike someone who can fight back.

Such surprise! What is this little Johnny feels coming from his arm? Pain! And somehow it is associated with the striking of this toy. Again, Johnny strikes. Again, swift, retribution (training really). Johnny is very tough; so, though he didn't cry, he pulled back his pained arm and examined it carefully. You could see the little mental computer working. As if to test his new theory, again, but with less force, he struck. The immediately returned blow was not diminished in strength. This time, I thought he would cry. No, after looking at his mother, as if to say, "What is this new thing?" he again, and with even less force, struck my wife on the arm. I was thinking, "She will lighten up this time and match his diminished intensity." Again, my wife struck, seemingly, with all the force she could possibly muster without standing for a wind-up.

Even those parents who spank do not strike their child with their full force. To do so would leave bruises. According to Michael Pearl, Debbi is hitting the child with all her strength. I have counted four times that the child was struck in the above section, the last time was with all Debbi's strength.

Johnny, tough enough for special forces, did one of those pained, crying faces covered by a forced smile.

I don't believe this. I think that Michael Pearl's memory is fuzzy. There is no way that a woman could use her full strength to strike a child's arm with a plastic toy without causing the child to scream.

To my amazement, with one-fourth the original force, he again smack my wife. This time, her bottom came off the couch as she drew back to return the blow; and I heard a little karate like wheeze come from somewhere deep inside. I was hoping that Johnny was getting close to learning his lesson. The conversation had about died in anticipation of the outcome. Johnny must have had a Viking lineage, for he continued to trade blows about ten times. On Johnny's part, the blows got lighter and lighter until, after a short contemplative delay, he gave a little tap that was returned with a swift, forceful blow

Again, common sense would tell us that this is false. Debbi Pearl has hit this child so hard that her butt has lifted off the seat. This boy would be bruised. If you don't believe me then please find an adult who is as much larger then you as Debbi must be compared to a two year old. Hand the adult a plastic, toy wrench and have them repeatedly hit you full force on the arm. Remember the blows have to be powerful enough to lift your friend off the couch.

By the way, it sounds like there were 11 blows applied to the child's arm in this section alone. Add these 11 hits to the above four and that makes 15 hard strikes on a two year old by an adult woman. So, your friend has to strike you at least 15 times and many of those blows must be at his full strength.

What is the boy's mother, his supposed protector, doing during the abuse of her child? Sitting quietly, not interfering. After Debbi finishes she hands the wrench to the mother who hits the child two or three more times!

Michael Pearl assures us that,This was not discipline, but training.

Again, notice the word, training.

The child was cheerfully striking with the toy. Though frustrated, he was not angry or mean. Had that been the case, his medicine would have been the rod.

So, worse could have happened to a two year old child?

The returned blows were teaching him that what he was doing was painful and undesirable. He was also being taught that there were others who could give it out better than he. Most little bullies are cured by meeting a bigger bully.

I don't even know how to comment to the above statement. I want to write further on this group but I will have to take a break from them. Reading their material makes me sad.


Lyn said...

Reading their material is bad for my IBS. It causes me agonizing stomach pain, not to mention heart pain.
Urg. If these were my kids, I would not treat them like that or let anyone else do the same thing.

My brain cannot compute!

Larry and Deb said...

This is so intensely painful to read. :(