What is the first strategy that comes to mind when your teenager is making you crazy and does something that really wrong and pisses you off? Punish them! Take things away! Ground them for life! Take their phone! Take their car! Am I right? You are really ticked off. You want them to “get it.” You want whatever behavior it is to stop…like yesterday. You want to yell. You want to scream. There is a part of you that wants to evoke some kind of reaction from them that gives an indication that it matters to them that you even object in the first place to whatever they did.
C’mon. Be honest. We have all been guilty of it at one time or another. Well, guess what? I hate to break it to you but the American Academy of Pediatrics says that punishments don’t actually work in the long run. They may stop the immediate behavior at the moment, but really don’t have any long term positive effect. Not to mention the fact that a lot of those punitive actions actually punish you more than they punish the offending teenager. Taking the car potentially means a lot more driving for you. Taking the phone means that you cannot reach them wither when you need them. Etc. Etc. You get what I mean. I am not by any means suggesting that there should never be consequences for poor actions. I am just saying that, as tempting as it is to punish first, it is not as helpful as we think.
Well, if we are not supposed to punish them, what are we supposed to do? What recourse do we have? Do we let our teens walk all over us? The simple answer is no. We just need to consider an alternative strategy that has greater long term benefits. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests discipline strategies instead of verbal or physical punishments to discourage unwanted behaviors.
So, what is the difference between discipline and punishment? Punishments, both physical and verbal, are quick, often knee jerk actions fueled by anger that may stop bad behavior quickly, but do not work over time. Discipline, on the other hand, teaches our teens how to recognize and control their own behavior. Teaching them in this way helps them to learn how to avoid harm later. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends four healthy discipline methods for teens. They are as follows:1) Be a role model for good behavior, 2) Ignore bad behavior or redirect your child away from bad behavior, 3) Set limits and expectations, and 4) Praise good behavior.
I have to say that, while I understand the American Academy of Pediatrics’ concept and the logic behind it, I find it difficult to adhere to 100% of the time. I find that nowadays the underlying intent of the Academy has been somewhat twisted and translated into overly permissive parenting with absolutely no behavioral consequences for children. I think that truly effective parenting must involve some kind of middle ground combination of discipline and punishment, maybe a 80%/20% ratio. At least that is what I am trying at the present.
Did you know that this phrase originally came from a 1914 Morton Salt ad logo? It was developed to illustrate the point that Morton Salt was so free flowing that it could freely flow even in the rain. So, originally this phrase meant something positive and was supposed to be a selling point for a product.
How times have changed! If you were to look it up nowadays, Merriam-Webster states that it is a popular idiom used to imply that when something bad happens other bad things usually happen at the same time. Yup. All negative. We all say it all the time to describe times when the shit just keeps hitting the fan. Even Luke Coombs sings about it. I have to wonder when the phrase took on a negative connotation or why we chose to reassign it in the first place. I haven’t been able to find the answer yet.
I think maybe that the reassigning of this idiom is just one example of how often and easy it is to jump right to the negative first in any situation. We are all guilty of it at one time or another. I have prided myself on being an optimist most of the time, but these times are challenging my glass half full side to the max right now. I can definitely embrace the when it rains it pours negative narrative right now. My family has definitely been through it and is still going through it quite frankly. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight right now, but logically, I know there has to be. I just have to get there. I won’t get there any faster by dwelling on what is wrong all the time. True, I have to allow time to process but then I think it’s important to make every effort to keep moving forward. You see, I believe that negativity just breeds more negativity and I think that our reactions to what happens to us have a direct effect on the actual final outcome. Countering negativity with negativity doesn’t work because it is just additive. It only adds fuel to the fire. Positivity in the face of negativity allows for the chance for redirection. Whether you believe in Fate or God or the writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau, there is still an element of decision-making and self-direction involved in every final outcome. It makes no sense to sit back and wallow and take it, whatever it is, without at least trying to redirect it and move forward. No good can come of it.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. This FANTASTIC ( Ok I am being facetious) American proverb is used often to express the concept that the problem that is the most obvious(or loudest) is the one most likely to get attention. The origins of this saying are unknown but the most current version of the saying is possibly attributed to the American humorist Josh Billings, who used it in his poem ” The Kicker” in 1870. It goes something like this.
I hate to be a kicker
I always long for peace.
But the wheel that squeaks the loudest,
Is the one that gets the grease.
The implication of this saying in our culture is that if you raise enough fuss, you will probably get noticed and have your problem addressed. It doesn’t say anything about the appropriateness of your level of fuss or the consequences to the people around you. In my mind, the use of this kind of logic has degenerated over generations to mean that stomping and screaming is the way to go to get what you want and that you don’t even need to consider others in the process. I see this every day in the world and it breaks my heart a little. It has become almost Machiavellian in terms of the ends justifying the means. I feel that people nowadays allow themselves carte blanche justification of any methods necessary to achieve their desired result. On top of that, this type of behavior gets rewarded every day, while we sit and wonder why it continues at the same time. It’s as if we can no longer hear those individuals who try to express themselves with dignity, respect, and tact. We skip right over their concerns because they are not loud enough. We are so distracted, overwhelmed and focused on the chaos of the squeaky wheels that we can no longer process quiet. Oddly enough, we do not actually recognize their behavior as acceptable, but we try whatever we can to make it go away anyway, rewarding them with what they want in the process. This tacitly sends the message to continue the bad behaviors because they are successfully getting the desired results. Why do we do it? Do we really think that the squeaky wheels will actually settle down if we give them what they want? Not gonna happen folks. Those wheels will just keep squeakin and sending us in every direction but the right one.