Monday, May 28, 2012

Kelly Bryson: Punishment

"In Kohn's other great book Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community, he explains how all punishments called logical or natural consequences, destroy any respectful, loving relationship between adult and child and impede the process of ethical development. (Need I mention Enron, Martha Stewart, the Iraqi Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal or certain car repairmen?)  Any type of coercion, whether it is the seduction of rewards or the humiliation of punishment, creates a tear in the fabric of relational connection between adults and children.  Then adults become simply dispensers of goodies and authoritarian dispensers of controlling punishments.  The atmosphere of fear and scarcity grows as the sense of connectedness that fosters true and generous cooperation, giving from the heart, withers.  Using punishments and rewards is like drinking salt water.  It does create a short-term relief, but long-term it makes matters worse.  This desert of emotional connectedness is fertile ground for actin-out to get attention.  Punishment is a use of force, in the negative sense of that word, not an expression of true power or strength.  David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. author of the book Power v. Force writes 'force is the universal substitute for truth.  The need to control others stems from lack of power, just as vanity stems from lack of self-esteem.  Punishment is a form of violence, an ineffective substitute for power.'

"Sadly though parents are afraid not to hit an punish their children for fear they will turn out to be bank-robbers.  But the truth may well be the opposite.  Research shows that virtually all felony offenders were harshly punished as children.  Besides children learn thru modeling.  Punishment models the tactic of deliberately creating pain for another to get something you want to happen.  Punishment does not teach children to care about how their actions might create pain for another, it teaches them it is ok to create pain for another if you have the power to get away with it.  Basically might makes right.  Punishment gets children to focus on themselves an what is happening to them instead of developing empathy for how their behavior affects another."

"One of the most popular discipline programs in American schools is called Assertive Discipline.  It teaches teachers to inflict the old "obey or suffer" method of control on students.  Here you disguise the threat of punishment by calling it a choice the child is making.  As in, 'You have a choice, you can either finish your homework or miss the outing this weekend.'  Then when the child chooses to try tot protect his dignity against this form of terrorism, by refusing to do his homework, you tell him his has chosen his logical, natural consequence of being excluded from the outing.  Putting it this way helps the parent or teacher mitigate against the bad feelings and guilt that would otherwise arise to tell adult that they are operating outside the principles of compassionate relating.  This insidious method is even worse than out-and-out punishing, where you can at least rebel against your punisher.  The use of this mind game teaches the child the false, crazy-making belief that they wanted something bad or painful to happen to them.  These programs also have the stated intention of getting the child to be angry with himself for making a poor choice.  In this smoke and mirrors game, the children are 'causing' everything to happen and the teachers are the puppets of the children's choices.  The only ones who are not taking responsibility for their actions are the adults."

~Kelly Bryson
Don't Be Nice, Be Real

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