Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Crushing the Spirit: Alternatives to Michael Pearl's Violence

Much has been said about where the Pearl Method goes wrong. I know that there are some elements of the Pearls' teachings that are reasonable, and some are very good. I think that the Pearls make a great deal of sense when the stress the need for consistency, especially with small children. Young children learn by repetition and require consistent structure. But, as well noted here in other posts on this topic, I do not like the intolerant approach that the Pearls and others like Voddie Baucham promote. Several researchers have determined that this intense fear-inducing and one-trial learning actually causes a lowered IQ and problem solving ability, and behavior becomes entirely about avoiding punishment.

For those who are looking for alternatives to the Pearl Method and feel like they need support as they venture away from it, I have a great, highly recommended alternative that teaches some very different ideas that make a great deal of sense.

Here is an excerpt from their recent email which mentions the Crushing of a Child's Spirit (you can sign to receive free emails with helpful ideas), and they also are currently offering two free audio downloads – one for parents and one for teachers:

By age three, Jimmy had an automatic reaction inside his wondrous little brain whenever he heard a sweet "Uh-oh." The reaction went something like: "Uh, my life will be happier if I do what is right not what is wrong." The glorious gift of loving correction was laying the foundation for good decision-making.

There are those who worry that correction will result in crushing the spirit. They are wise to worry! Correction will crush the spirit if it is done with anger, or sarcasm, or with the intent to "get even" with the child. Correction is never correct when it is done with a punitive, harsh heart. . .

Is it really possible to train a child to behave with this sweet and simple phrase? Experiment with the skills in this DVD and see how much easier parenting can become. Of course, we'll buy it back if it doesn't completely change your life!

Read the email in its entirety online HERE.

Love and Logic is secular organization that takes a different approach to discipline, primarily by allowing the bad decision made by the child through the resulting circumstances and consequences of behavior to serve as the “bad cop” while the parent serves as the encouraging coach for their child. Through consistent parenting and teaching the child that the parent's word is “gold,” the child has already learned that their relationship with their parent is one of empathy, love, and understanding.

By taking some good observations about good parenting, good moral principle, and even some ideas that come out of the science of learning and what we now know about how the brain works, Love and Logic helps foster a child's problem-solving and thinking skills while also encouraging self-control and good behavior. Learn more at their FAQ Page. (And based upon their choice of language, I strongly suspect that they are Christians in their personal lives, but that's just a hunch.)

For those concerned, Jim Fay and Foster Cline, MD developed the Love and Logic philosophy in what they say is their combined experience of over 75 years of experience of observing and working with children. And it's “multi-generational,” because Dr. Charles Fay, Jim's son, also teaches and speaks as part of the Love and Logic team. I did enjoy the watching their interaction with one another at a presentation they made, and it adds another layer of depth to their message. They also have a program for teachers, as the ideas work well within classrooms also.

Many of the Quiverfull and Patriarchy materials define a parent's role in a way that is almost xenophobic (afraid of people), and the parent's role becomes that of standing between the child and the world in a mighty struggle to protect them from it and it's harmful influences. In the process, the child must show unqualified obedience to the parent. At a recent conference, I heard Charles Fay explain that their general approach is one of teaching reliable skills to children so that they can prepare their children to engage the world (in age-appropriate ways and circumstances) while the parent serves as the support for that child while they teach them the skills that they need to be successful in life. They don't rob them of the opportunity to learn by teaching their kids to just give up because of aggressive discipline practices or because the kids feel like asserting themselves will be readily punished. Rather than a model of fear, Love and Logic teaches a model of optimism while the child learns tested self-reliance.

Please read their Love and Logic Position Paper on the Use of Spanking as a Disciplinary Tool. I understand that some of their older materials recommend some limited use of spanking, but they no longer advocate the practice. As stated earlier, they advocate the use of consequences as opposed to the rod.

In addition to a host of free material online for parents, they also have several video clips posted on their YouTube Channel, and I would embed them here, but they don't have the feature enabled, so you'll have to do some extra clicking on your own.

I am told that if they can recommend a single best product, their most helpful resource is Helicopters, Drill Sargents, and Consultants which comes as either a book, a CD or an audio download. As part of their free resources online, they explain a bit more about this concept HERE.

And don't forget about the free audio download. (I don't know how long they will make it available.)


The two raffle winners of Meg Moseley's  
Buy the Book NOW  
at most major booksellers.