Rule 5: Do Not Let Your Children Do Anything That Makes You Dislike Them
12 Rules For Life Book Summary (Jordan B. Peterson)
“Recently I watched a three-year-old boy trail his mother and father slowly through a crowded airport. He was screaming violently at five-second intervals, and more importantly, he was doing it voluntarily. As a parent, I could tell from the tone, it was irritating his parents and hundreds of other people to gain attention. Maybe he needed something but that was no way to get it and his parents should have let him know that. Thirty seconds of carefully directed problem-solving would’ve brought the shameful episode to a halt.”
Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.
“I’ve also watched a couple unable or unwilling to say no to their two-year-old, obliged to follow closely behind him every way he went, every moment of what was supposed to be an enjoyable social visit, because he misbehaved so badly when not micromanaged that he could not be given a second of genuine freedom without risk. The desire of his parents to let their child act without correction on every impulse perversely produced precisely the opposite effect. They deprived him instead of every opportunity to engage in independent action, because they did not dare to teach him what “No” means. He had no conception of the reasonable limits enabling maximal toddler autonomy.“
Do not let children do anything that makes you dislike them.
“I’ve similarly seen parents rendered unable to engage in adult conversation at a dinner party because their children, four and five, have dominated the social scene, eating the centres out of all the sliced bread, subjecting everyone to their juvenile tyranny, while mum and dad watched, embarrassed and bereft of their ability to intervene.“
Do not let children do anything to make you dislike them.
Everybody Hates Arithmetic
Consider this story. “One father recently spoke with me about the trouble he was having putting his son to sleep. We did the arithmetic and this ritual typically takes about three quarters of an hour fighting, 45 minutes a day, seven days a week, 300 minutes or five hours a week. Five fours for each of the four weeks a month, that’s 20 hours per month. Twenty hours a month for 12 months is 240 hours. That’s a month and a half of standard 40-hour work weeks.“
Peterson’s client was spending a month and a half of work weeks per year fighting ineffectually, miserably with his son. “Needless to say, both was suffering and no matter how good your intentions are or how sweet and tolerant your temperament is, you will not maintain good relations with someone you fight with for a month and a half of work weeks per year.“
“Resentment will inevitably build. Even if it doesn’t, all that wasted unpleasant time could’ve clearly be spent in a more productive and useful and less stressful, more enjoyable activity.“
Do not let your children do anything to make you dislike them.
Now, who’s to blame? The parent? The child? Some localise the problem to the adults, to the parent? Saying such things, there is no bad children, only bad parents.
“The problem about this perspective and argument is that it’s too one-sided. It’s dangerous and naively romantic. Especially in the case of the parents who are granted a particularly difficult son or daughter, and that the conclusion is that it merely displaces the problem back in time to the parents, to what’s been done. It explains nothing and solves no problems.“
I wouldn’t go too far to say this that it explains nothing because I think both the parents and the child must be considered greatly to their own individual effects of influence. However, who am I to even provide a perspective on parenting, children, child development, psychology on this topic? Who am I? It’s obvious if you watch my videos and observe my youth, that I most likely do not have a child, let alone multiple, which is true. However, just like an asshole, everyone’s got an opinion and this is mine.
I’m extremely fascinated and interested and passionate about learning about child development, psychological development, childhood trauma, and how it influences individuals as they grow. It’s something I’ve spent quite a bit of time learning, researching and something I will provide my perspective on. If it bothers you and you only listen to people discuss parenting from people who are parents, then this is probably not for you. If you are open to understanding that you can learn from anyone and that there is merit in some people’s perspective who may not have children, keep reading.
The Ignoble Savage
“We know dogs must be socialized in order to become acceptable members of the pact and children are much more complex than dogs. This means they are much more likely to go complexly astray if they’re not trained, disciplined and properly encouraged. This means that it is not just wrong to attribute all the violent tendencies of human beings to the pathologies of social structure, [which is what Peterson discussed earlier in this rule, and that extends to blaming parents only for a child’s behavior].
“Children must be shaped and formed or they cannot thrive. This fact is reflected starkly in their behavior. Kids are utterly desperate for attention from both peers and adult because such attention which renders them effective and sophisticated communal place is vitally necessary. Children can be damaged as much or more by lack of incisive attention as they are by abuse, mental or physical, this is damage by omission, rather than commission, but it is no less severe and long lasting.“
“Children are damaged when their mercifully inattentive parents fail to make them sharp and observant and awake and leave them instead in unconscious and an undifferentiated state. Children are damaged when those charged with their care, afraid of any conflict or upset, no longer dare to correct them and leave them without guidance.“
This expresses itself as ‘the lazy parent’ or ‘the fearful parent’ or more simply— ‘the undisciplined individual’ who is now no longer willing to instil any direction or challenging discipline. These children end up being uncarved blocks trapped in a perpetual state of waiting to be.“
Now, let’s talk about discipline.
Parents or Friend?
“Modern parents are simply paralyzed by the fear that they will no longer be liked or even loved by their children if they chastise them for any reason. They want their children’s friendship above all and are willing to sacrifice respect to get it. It’s not good. A child will have many friends but only two parents, remember that. It’s very thought provoking. Friends have very limited authority to correct. Every parent will need to learn to tolerate the momentary anger or even hatred directed toward them by their children fter necessary corrective action has been taken as the capacity of children to perceive or care about long term consequences is very limited.“
“Parents are the arbiters of society. They teach children how to behave so other people will be able to interact meaningfully and productively with them. It is an act of responsibility to discipline a child. It is not anger at misbehaviour. It is not revenge for misdeed. It is instead a careful combination of mercy and long term judgement.“
It’s important to re-frame how we think about discipline and parenting as a whole. I can understand and slightly empathise (although it’s hard to as someone who doesn’t have a child) that you want to try and guide your child in the most optimal way possible for their growth and development, but at the same time, you want them to develop those skills themselves (integrity). One mechanism for doing that is discipline, but you want to be liked by your child. So when you feel a short term burst of emotion and anger directed to you from a child, I guess that could make a lot of parents feel insecure about their position as a parent.
A Personal Story from Peterson on Parenting
I’m going to recount a pretty intriguing story of Peterson parenting his son and what he did when his son refused to eat a sufficient amount of food
Peterson said himself that his son was particularly ornery : an unpleasant or ugly temperament. He noticed his son was not eating enough food. He would just go out and play after eating a couple of mouthfuls as he’d play with his food. He’s son would test the limitations of his environment through this play, but it was affecting his sleep because he wasn’t eating enough and the child sleep was then consequently affecting the parents (Peterson and his wife) because then they’d be woken up in the middle of the night, and that would cascade into more problems because sleep deprivation contributes to a whole group of problems.
He decided, ‘I’m going to go to war with you child. You will not defeat me.’ You’re going to finish everything on this plate today and eat exactly what you need to eat for your sustenance and growth. Ge said something very interesting:
“A patient adult can defeat a two-year-old, as hard as that is to believe.”
They sat down, looked themselves in the eyes and they knew, all right, we’re going to war right here. Time after time, Peterson would try and feed him. His son would dodge the spoon of food. He would try little techniques like poking him in a playful manner that would annoy him and get his attention while he tried to put the spoon in his mouth. Of course, the child would resist, but eventually, he would open his mouth admitting outrage and emotion at the annoyance of being poked, and so Peterson put the spoon in his mouth.
Of course, the child then tried to reject the food and push it out of his mouth, so Peterson put his finger up to his mouth and of course, some came out but not all of it didn’t and some was swallowed. Good, we’ve had a good win, but at this point, he didn’t just repeat it over and over again, he positively reinforced his son. He gave him a pat on the head and told him he was a good boy and he meant it — if someone does something for you and you’re trying to get them to do, reward them.
He would repeat this process and after an hour later, it was all done. Yes, there was outrage. Yes, there was emotional over-spill. Yes there was stress, but the food was eaten by the child. His son collapsed on him exhausted and they napped. Then when they woke up, his son liked him a lot better than he had before he was disciplined. The lesson is…
Do not let your child do anything to make you dislike them.
There was a clear line drawn in the sand after that day.
Discipline and Punish.
“Modern parents are terrified of two frequently juxtaposed words, disciple and punish. The images they evoke are very dark: prison, soldiers, pain, suffering. The distance between a disciplinarian and tyrant, or punishment and torture is indeed easily traversed, but discipline and punish must be handled with care.”
“It’s not that it’s impossible to discipline with reward. In fact, rewarding good behaviour can be very effective and the most common, most famous example is of psychologist B.F. Skinner and the experiments he ran. Skinner would teach certain animals to perform certain acts and he would use exceptional care, any actions that approximate what he was aiming at are immediately followed by reward of just the right size. Not small enough to be inconsequential, not so large that it devalued future rewards.”
What did Peterson just do in the previous story? That’s what he did, the pat and ‘good boy’ praise is a form of positive reinforcement that matched a similar level of intensity to which the action that was being produced — eating the food. This can be applied to anybody, any action, any behaviour, any person. This transcends just behaviour with children. But let’s bring it back to children because that’s the topic in context.
“Imagine, you would like your toddler to help set up a table, it’s a useful skill. You’d like him to be better if he could do it. It would be good for his “self-esteem” (shudder). So you break the target behaviour down into its component parts. One element of setting the table is carrying a plate from the cupboard to the table. Either that might be too complex, perhaps your child has only been walking a few months, so you start training him to handle a plate and having him give it back to you. A pat on the head could suffice to follow. Now you can turn this into a game, he may circle the plate around his back, take a few steps back before giving it back to you, and you train to become a plate-handling skilled virtuoso.“ Now, you’re teaching him motor skills as well as positive useful obedience. You can teach virtually anyone anything with such an approach.
Here’s another great example. “Say your son or daughter has become quite reserved since he’d become a teenager and you want them to talk more, to communicate more, so your target, response or outcome = more communication. Say one morning over breakfast, she shares a short anecdote about school. That’s a very excellent time to pay attention. That’s the reward.“ Stop texting, stop looking at your phone, stop looking at the window, stop being distracted and pay attention because unless you don’t want her to tell you anything ever again, then you’re going to need to give her the attention she requires for a better functioning set of communication skills and relationship with you.
This can be said of anything. If there is an outcome you want to happen from somebody, you want somebody to open up to you, you want somebody to try and be a bit more optimistic, take more initiative etc. When they express that outcome that you see them wanting to produce more of, reward them adequately. We know from psychology research that you want to get the positive reinforcement reward as close as possible to the outcome stimulus, and if you don’t, the chance of that outcome happening again is not as high.
But what about pain, suffering and negative emotion (negative reinforcement) as a way to produce an outcome behaviour?
So we know that when we experience pain it’s so we don’t repeat that same action again. “Anxiety makes us stay away from hurtful people and bad places so we don’t have to feel pain. All these emotions must be balanced against each other and carefully judged in context but they’re all required to keep us alive and thriving. We therefore do our children a disservice by failing to use whatever is available to help them learn including negative emotions. Even though such use should occur in the most merciful possible manner”. This is a justification for the utility of negative emotion and negative reinforcement.
“We live in a world that is paralysed at thought of interfering with the hypothetical pristine path of natural child development.“ And this is something I can sympathise with, when do you cross the line between childhood trauma and useful pain? When do you apply too much pain and negative emotion that crosses over into trauma? It can be a fine line.
“But children cannot be fully sheltered from fear and pain.“ They cannot be. There are dramatic consequences from doing this. “They don’t know much about the world and it is our responsibility to teach them so even when they are doing something as natural as going to walk, they’re constantly being walloped by the world, right? They are learning pain — what it is like to fall on the ground from the start.“
“We know that to shelter children completely from misadventure and failure so they never experience and feel pain is doing them a disservice so we have to find how to maximise their learnings, that useful knowledge may be gained with minimal cost.”
By nerfing the edges of danger from your child's world you leave them vulnerable to the all too real reality of malevolence. You leave your child naïve, immature and weak and unprepared for the world.
So when they have their first real contact with failure, or worse, genuine malevolence — because it’s out there, it’s everywhere. They will not know how to cope and respond to such real evil. They have no defence. It’s like an immune system. Every time we have a virus or bacterial infection, our immune system builds antibodies to the said virus or bacterial infection. We build our defences all the way from infancy. We’re building a defence from the world through exposure to negative experience — a virus. Just like an immune system, a child needs adequate exposure to negative emotion, negative experience, pain and suffering in order to build their own foundation of defence against the world. If they don’t, they will not be prepared for when that pain, suffering, evil, virus, bacteria infects them.
It’s the concept of that Nassim Taleb talks about, ‘Antifragility’. It describes that a system needs to be tested, challenged and shocked to develop a framework of defence. For example, I’ve heard Jonathan Haidt talk about that in his daughters school in New York the kids are not allowed to exclude each other in the playground anymore. They’re not allowed to express exclusion.
Hold on. Exclusion has been a tool for necessary group relationship dynamics. Every member of a tribe serves a purpose and has a role. You exclude people who are not valuable members of your tribe, who are harming your tribe or do not provide any value. We don’t live in small “tribes” anymore, but we still have communities and social structures, social dynamics and competence hierarchies.
What happens now when we mitigate or eliminate a child’s ability to express the necessary fundamental ability to exclude another? Then the child doesn’t understand social dynamics. Children are supposed to have thousands of conflicts and challenging social interactions from insults to teasing to exclusion to learn how to adequately deal with the reality of social structures, of relationship building, of communication.
If you put your child in a world where they don’t get excluded, teased, insulted, from zero to 18 or from zero to three, or whatever time period, what do you think is going to happen? What person do you think you’re going to mold? We’re starting to see it. Little snowflakes walking around who are very sensitive to insult, to social media comments insulting them. People are being seriously affected by this epidemic of snowflakes — ‘snowflake syndrome’ (ha). I’m being facetious obviously, but people are being very affected by a comment somebody through social media because they haven’t been adequately exposed to real insults and exclusion — or maybe they have but they haven’t learned to cope or maneuver through these real sorts of conflict.
It’s not about exposing someone to excessive suffering and exclusion or conflict. It’s about exposing them to the necessary amounts of ‘pressure’ for optimal development so they can sufficiently be prepared for the world.
If you raise your children and raise yourself in a manner that sees the world as dangerous and threatening, you raise yourself and all your kids to be emotionally stunted. These kids will not be prepared for the world and most likely have higher propensity for psychological disorders. Because all terrible evil and pain hey’re going to consume from the world is going weigh heavy on their conscience and they won’t know what to do with it.
“Take the case of a three-year-old who has not learned to share. She displays a selfish behavior in the presence of her parents but they’re too nice to intervene. More truthfully, they refuse to pay attention, admit to what is happening and teach her how to act properly. They’re annoyed of course when she won’t share with her sister but they’re prepared to pretend everything is okay, but it’s not okay. They’ll snap at her later for something totally unrelated.” And that is exactly where micro-trauma can accumulate and occur. That moment when you snap at something completely unrelated you’re on the edge of chaos.
”She’ll be hurt by that and confused and learn nothing. Worse, when she tries to make friends, it won’t go well because of her lack of social sophistication. Children her own age will be put off by her inability to cooperate. They’ll fight with her and wander off, find someone else to play with. The parents of those children will observe her awkwardness and misbehavior and won’t invite her back to play with their kids. She’ll be lonely and rejected, one parent, one child at a time. That will produce anxiety, depression, resentment. That will produce the turning from life that is equivalent to the wish for unconsciousness.”
”Parents who refuse to adapt the responsibility for disciplining their children think they can just opt out of the conflict necessary for proper child rearing. They avoid being the bad guy in the short time but they do not, at all, rescue or protect their children from fear or pain. Quite the contrary, the judgemental, uncaring, broader social world will meet out conflict and punishment far greater than which would have been delivered by awake parents. You can discipline your children or you can turn that responsibility over to the harsh, uncaring, judgemental world, and the motivation for the latter decision should never be confused with love. It’s really just ignorant [and lazy]”
”But you might object. Why should a child even be subject to the arbitrary dictates of a parent
From what I understand, that’s essentially asking, why should the parent be the end all be all of this child’s view of the world?
”First, why should a child be subject to the dictates of a parent? That’s easy. Every child must listen to and obey adults because he or she is dependent on the care that one or more imperfect grownups is willing to bestow. Simple as that.”
”Every child should also be taught to comply gracefully with the expectations of civil society. This does not mean crushed into mindless ideology and conformity, which many parents do, [and which is what that rebuttal might insinuate]. It means instead that parents must reward those attitudes and actions that will bring their child success in the world outside the family and use threat and punishment when necessary to eliminate behaviours that will lead to misery and failure.”
”There’s a tight window of opportunity for this as well, so getting it right quickly matters. If a child has not been taught to behave properly by the age of four, it will forever be difficult for him or her to make friends.” While Peterson has placed hundreds of references in this book he has unfortunately not for that point. I really would like to read it. If anyone has it, let me know.
”This matters because peers are the primary source of socialization after the age of four. Rejected children cease to develop because they are alienated from their peers, and they fall further and further behind as the other children continue to progress. Thus, the friendliest child too often becomes the lonely antisocial or depressed teenager and adult. This is not good.”
”Much more of our sanity then we commonly realise is a consequence of our fortunate immersion in a social community particularly built from a young age.”
Now, can you still transform yourself as an adult? Of course, you can. It happens every day and people try and do it every day. Peterson, ironically, helps people who have had this stunted socialisation from a young age, from ages four and under, helps those people grow to be better human beings, better functioning human beings. Of course, it’s possible to transform yourself even though you may have been rejected from this young age, of course. But you’d rather mitigate it if possible. Because we know poorly socialized children have terrible lives. They express themselves in the worst types of people in our society, so it’s better to socialize them properly, and some of these can be done with reward like we talked about earlier, but not all of it.
”The issue was, therefore, not whether to use punishment and threat. The issue is whether to do it consciously and thoughtfully, how then should children be disciplined? This is a very difficult question because children and parents differ vastly in their temperaments. Some children are agreeable. Some are disagreeable and then you get other kids who are tougher minds and more independent, and those kids want to do what they want, when they want all the time. They can be challenging, non-compliant and stubborn, so maybe they need to be treated in a different way. Some children are desperate for rules and instructions and content even in rigid environments. Others with little regard for predictability and routine or immune to demands for even minimum necessary order, some are widely imaginative, creative. You get it, these are all deep, important differences heavily influenced by biological factors and they’re difficult to modify socially.”
Moral of the story: understand your child and parent them accordingly to their individual set of characteristics while using the foundation of this rule to implement.
Minimum Necessary Force
”Here’s a straightforward initial idea. Rules should not be multiplied beyond necessity. Don’t incumbent children or their disciplinarians with too many rules. That path leads frustration.”
I’ve seen this being done to myself. I’ve seen this being done to people. I’ve probably done this too. You have a way you want to look at the world, the way you want your world around you to be, a set of characteristics that you want to live by, and so you try to implement this similar order to your child or another person, and often it’s too much. Instead of throwing a dozen different rules, it seems like the best most effective method is to go one at a time, one rule at a time, and let them be ‘minimum effective dose’ rules. Meaning, what are the set of rules that are going to cover the most amount of behaviours that you want to help control or mould. Of course, you have to figure out, what do you do when each rule gets broken? There’s going to be a consequence for each one, so you have to figure that out. If you have a thousand rules and you have a consequence for each one, it’s going to be very confusing for the child because you’re not going to implement those rules evenly.
“A context independent rule for punishment, severity is hard to establish. However, a helpful norm has already been enshrined in English common law, one of the greatest products of Western civilization. Its analysis can help establish a second useful principle. English common law allows you to defend your rights but only in a reasonable manner. Someone breaks into your house, you have a loaded pistol, you have the right to defend yourself, but you better do it in stages. What if it’s a drunk, confused neighbor? Shoot him immediately, do you think? It’s not that simple, so you say instead, “Stop, I have a gun.” If that produces neither explanation nor retreat, you might consider a warning shot and if the perpetrator still advances, you might consider taking aim at their leg. A single, brilliantly, practical principle can be used to generate all these incrementally more severe reactions, that of minimum necessary force.
Now, we have two general principles.The first, limit the rules, the second, use the least force necessary to enforce those rules,.
And that could look like giving your child or son, or friend, person a warning, a verbal warning, then a physical warning. Not too harsh and not abusive, but stern and authoritarian, and then you could continue until the desired outcome has reached within reasonable means. If the first principle is limit the rules, what do you limit the rules to exactly? Here are some suggestions Peterson puts.”
Limit The Rules
“Do not bite, kick, hit, except in self-defense. Do not torture and bully other children so you don’t end up in jail. Eat in a civilized and thankful matter so that people are happy to have you in your house and pleased to feed you. Learn to share so other kids play with you. Pay attention when spoken to adults so they don’t hate you and might, therefore, deign to teach you something. Go to sleep properly and peacefully so your parents can have a private life and not resent your existence. Take care of your belongings because you need to learn how and because you’re lucky to have them. Be good company when something fun is happening so you’re invited for that fun again. Act so that other people are happy when you’re around that people will want you around. A child who knows these rules will be welcomed everywhere.”
An adult who knows these rules will be welcomed everywhere. Adults need to know these rules just as well because we make the same mistakes.
Minimim Necessary Force
What about the second principle? Equally important. What is minimum necessary force? This must be established experimentally starting with the smallest possible intervention. I briefly touched on my opinion before, now, we’re going to get Peterson’s perspective.
”Some children will be stone-shook by glare. A verbal command will stop another. A thumb cocked flicked index finger on the hand might be necessary force for some. Such a strategy is particularly useful in public places such as restaurants. It can be administered suddenly, quietly, effectively without risking escalation, and they’ve learned from previous conditioning that that’s serious. Understand the children will definitely misbehave more in public because they’re experimenting and trying to establish if the same old rules in their home apply to this new place, in a new environment and outside, in the real world. They don’t sort that out verbally not when they’re under three. You can’t just assume that they can understand that home rules is outside rules. It has to be established and conditioned.”
Peterson learnt that after his children sat in a restaurant for 45 minutes, they knew it was time to go because they would get antsy and they would get fidgety, and they would start to misbehave. That was part of the deal. They conditioned their children. You give us 45 minutes of good-behavior, we will not have you sit here and put up with being stuck in this position sitting in a chair behaving for any longer, because we know you want to play and be a child, right?
They had a little deal they made with their child. ”They weren’t always properly behaved but they were most of the time, it was wonderful to see people responding so positively to their presence. It was truly good for the kids and they could see that people like them and this reinforce their good behaviour. That was the reward. Part of establishing a relationship with your son or daughter is learning how this person responds to disciplinary intervention.”
There Is No Excuse for Physical Punishment…Or Is There?
”It was very easy to mouth clichés and hear it all the time that, “There’s no excuse for physical punishment or hitting children nearly teaches them to hit.” It’s like a very convenient cliché to fall back on almost virtually signalling to other people like, “Look at me, on my moral pedestal. I would never do that,” but let’s understand, everything has its time in place, does it not? There’s exception to everything, is there not?
”Let’s start with the former claim, there is no excuse for physical punishment. We should note that almost all sanctions in life involve punishment in its many psychological, more direct physical forms. Deprivation of liberty causes pain in a manner essentially similar to that of physical trauma. The same can be said of the use of social isolation including timeout. We know this neurobiologically.”
Peterson is making it clear that physical punishment isn’t just simply physical. It has other forms that people might already be doing such as timeout. That is a form of psychological punishment. You’re going to get a parent who’s going to say, “I’ll never hit my child,” but you’re going to get that same parent putting that child in timeout. But hold-on, the physical doesn’t just extend to somatosensory, it extends neuro-psychologically.
“And also we should note that some behavior must be brought to halt effectively and immediately, not least so that something worse doesn’t happen. What’s the proper punishment for someone who will not stop poking a fork into your electrical socket or who runs away laughing in a crowded supermarket parking lot? The answer is simple, whatever will stop it fastest within reason, because the alternative could be fatal.”
That is the exception. It has to be because the consequence is too high.
“To unthinkingly power the magical line, there’s no excuse for physical punishment, is also to foster the delusion that teenage devils magically emerge from one innocent little child angels. You’re not doing your child any favours by overlooking any misbehaviour, particularly if he or she is temperamentally more aggressive.“
“To hold the no excuse of physical punishment theory is also to assume that the word “No” can be effectively added to another person in the absence of threat or punishment. A woman can say ‘no’ to a powerful, narcissistic man only because she has social norms, the law, and the state backing her up. A parent can only say no to a child who wants a third piece of cake because he or she is larger, stronger, and more capable than the child, and additionally, backed up in this authority by law and state.“
“What no means in the final analysis is always, if you continue to do that, something you do not like will happen to you.“
That is what no must mean with parenting not from parenting myself, being parented, and watching other parents that they can fall astray when the word no becomes misconstrued. You learn from submissive parents and inconsistent parenting that the word no doesn’t actually mean something bad will happen to me — I can get away with more, and so you behave with more malevolence because that’s what you’ve learned. You haven’t been tempered.
Does Hitting a Child Teach Them to Hit?
“What about the idea that hitting your child merely teaches them to hit? First, no. Wrong. It’s too simple. For starters, hitting is very unsophisticated word to describe the disciplinary act of an effective parent. If hitting accurately describe the entire range of physical force, then there would be no difference between rain droplets and atom bombs. Magnitude matters, and so does context, if we’re not being wilfully blind and naïve about the issue. Every child knows the difference between being bitten by a mean, unprovoked dog, and being nipped by its own pet when he tries playfully, but too carelessly to take its bone. How hard someone is hit and why they are hit cannot merely be ignored when speaking of hitting.“
“Timing, part of context, is also a crucial importance. If you flick your two-year-old with your finger just after you smack the baby on the head with a wooden block, he will get the connection, and be at least somewhat less willing to smack her again in the future. That seems like a good outcome, right? He certainly won’t conclude that he should hit her more using the flick of his mother’s fingers as an example. He’s not stupid. He’s just jealous, impulsive and not very sophisticated.“
“How else is he going to protect his younger sibling if you discipline ineffectively and the baby will suffer? Maybe for years, the bullying will continue because you won’t do a damn thing to stop it because you’re afraid to, to confide to this social cliché norm. You avoid the conflict that’s necessary to establish peace, return a blind eye, and then later when your child confronts you, maybe in adulthood, you will say, “I never knew it was like that.” No, you just didn’t want to know so you did it. You just rejected the responsibility of discipline and justified it with a continual show of your nastiness. Every gingerbread house has a witch inside that devours its children.“
Where does this all leave us?
“With the decision to discipline effectively or to discipline ineffectively, but never the decision to forgo discipline altogether because nature and society will punish in a draconian manner, whatever errors of children behaviour remain uncorrected.“
“Here are a few practical hints. Timeout can be extremely effective form of punishment, particularly if the misbehaving child is welcome as soon as he controls his temper. An angry child should sit by himself until he calms down, then he should be allowed to return to normal life. That means the child wins instead of his anger. The rule is, come be with us as soon as you can behave properly. That is a very good deal for a child, parent and society. You’ll be able to tell if your child has really regained control. You’ll like him again despite his early misbehaviour. If he’s still mad, maybe he hasn’t completely repented or maybe you should do something about your tendency to hold a grudge.
“If your child is the kind of determined varmint who simply runs away laughing when placed on the steps or in his room, physical strength might have to be added to the timeout routine. A child can be held carefully but firmly by the upper arm until he or she stops squirming and pays attention. If that fails, being turned over a parent’s knee might be required.“
That’s going to make a lot of people uncomfortable especially in the 21st Century, 2019, 2020 parenting. It’s like, “No, I would never. I would never hit my child.” I appreciate Peterson’s candidness and how he’s putting his character on the line saying, “This might be necessary sometimes.” For the child who is pushing the limits in his spectacularly inspired way, a swat across the backside can indicate requisite seriousness on the part of a responsible adult. There are some situations in which even that will not suffice partly because some children are very determined, exploratory, and tough, or because their offending behaviour is truly severe. If you’re not thinking such things through, then you’re not acting responsibly as a parent. You’re leaving the dirty work to someone else who will be much dirtier doing it.“
The point is, the kid’s going to get smacked across the backside regardless. Are you going to be the one to do it or are you going to let the world do it?
A Summary of Principles
Disciplinary principle one, limit the rules
Principle two, use minimum necessary force
Here’s the third, parents should come in pairs.
“Raising young children is demanding and exhausting. Because of this, it’s easy for a parent to make a mistake. Insomnia, hunger and the aftermath of an argument, a hangover, bad day at work, any of these things can simply make a person unreasonable. While in combination, they could produce someone dangerous.“
“Under such circumstances, it is necessary to have someone else around to observe and step in, and discuss. This will make it less likely that a whiny, provocative child and her fed-up cranky parent will excite each other to the point of no return. Parents should come in pairs so that the father of a newborn can watch the new mother so she won’t get worn out and do something desperate after hearing her colicky baby wail from 11 in the evening until five in the morning for 30 minutes in a row.“
“Here’s the fourth principle, one that is more particularly psychological. Parents should understand their own capacity to be harsh, vengeful, arrogant, resentful, angry, deceitful. Very few people set out consciously to do a terrible job as a father or a mother, but bad parenting happens all the time.“ Isn’t that interesting? We all want to think we all want to do a good job. Well, I have great intentions but look at the world. There’s a lot of shitty people around who have very questionable characters.
“This is because people have a great capacity for evil, as well as good, and because they remain wilfully blind to that fact. People are aggressive and selfish as well as kind and thoughtful. For this reason, no adult human being, no hierarchical predatory ape can truly tolerate being dominated by an upstart child. Revenge will come. Ten minutes after a pair of ultra-nice and patient parents have failed to prevent a public tantrum at the local supermarket, they will pay their toddler back with a cold shoulder when he runs up excited to show mom and dad his newest accomplishment. Enough embarrassment, disobedience and dominance, challenge and even the most hypothetically selfless parent will become resentful.“
This is dangerous because resentment is one of the worst poisons a parent can admit to their child, because when that child consistently gets the cold shoulder to something they’re proud or have created, that teaches that child something very, very dark and dangerous. It’s a very important time in their development and when that child is not shown a requisite needed attention for a good deed, then that’s where a fractured character begins to be developed. It’s a shame but it really requires a great amount of attention and detail to be shown for each moment of parenting. I can an only imagine how tremendously difficult it must be to be a parent.
“Resentment breathes the desire for vengeance. Fewer spontaneous offers of love will be offered with more rationalisations for their obedience. Fewer opportunities for the personal development of the child will be sought out. A subtle turning away will begin and this only is the beginning of the road to total familial warfare conducted mostly in the underworld underneath the false façade normality in love.“
“This frequently travelled path by parents is best avoided. A parent who is seriously aware of his or her limited tolerance and capacity for misbehaviour when provoked can, therefore, seriously plan a proper disciplinary strategy particularly if monitored by an equally awake partner and never let things degenerate to a point where genuine hatred emerges.“
This is very key. You must be aware of yourself and this is. It seems like a key to raising a decent child is to know yourself, be self-aware about who you are, and your tendencies for malevolence and benevolence. Otherwise, you risk forth going those tendencies onto your child.
“Beware, there are toxic families everywhere. They make the rules and limit no misbehaviour. The parents lash out randomly and unpredictably. The children live in that chaos and are crushed if they’re timid or rebel counter-productively if they’re tough. It’s not good. They can get murderous.“
“Here’s a fifth and final most general principle, parents have a duty to act as proxies for the real world.“ Meaning they have to be a conduit. They have to be the mirror into the real world, “merciful proxies, caring proxies but proxies, nonetheless. This obligation supersedes any responsibility to ensure happiness, foster creativity or boost self-esteem.“
For example, if your child grows up during war time, that child must understand war time over happiness and creativity, and self-esteem. There’s a whole host of people who grew up during World War II and World War I. These people know what it’s like and they understand malevolence. They understand suffering and they understand pain because their parents had really no choice but to show their children by proxy what the world is like. These people have learned.
“This obligation supersedes any responsibility. It’s the primary duty of parents to make their children socially desirable and that will provide the child with opportunity, self-regard and security. It’s more important even in fostering individual identity. The Holy Grail can only be pursued in, any case, after a high degree of social sophistication has been established.“
The Good Child & The Responsible Parent
“A properly socialised three-year-old is polite and engaging. She’s also no pushover. She invokes interest from other children and appreciation from adults. She exists in a world where other kids welcome her and compete for her attention, and where adults are happy to see her instead of hiding behind false smiles. She will be introduced to the world by people who are pleased to do so. This will do more for her than eventual individuality than any cowardly parental attempt to avoid day-to-day conflict and discipline. Discuss your likes and dislikes with regards to your children with your partner or failing that, a friend, but do not be afraid to have likes and dislikes, especially dislikes. Having clarified your stance, having assessed your self-pettiness, arrogance and resentment, you take the next step and you make your children behave.“
“You take responsibility for their discipline. You take responsibility for the mistakes you will inevitably make while disciplining. You can apologise when you’re wrong and learn to do better. You love your kids after all. If their actions make you dislike them, think what, in effect, they will have on other people who care much less about them than you.“ Think about that. Think about that deeply. If an action of your child makes you dislike him, put yourselves in the shoes of other people and how that’s going to make them feel, and the effect that’s going to have on your child.
THOSE are the people who will punish them severely by omission or commission. They don’t care. They’re not their parent. Don’t allow that to happen. “Better to let your little monsters know what is desirable and what is not so they become sophisticated denizens of the world outside of the family. A child who pays attention instead of drifting, and can play, and who do not whine, and is comical, but not annoying and is trustworthy, that child will have friends wherever he goes. He will thrive in what can so easily be a cold, unforgiving hostile world.“
“Clear rules make for secured children and calm rational parents. Clear principles of discipline and punishment bounds mercy and justice so that social development, psychological maturity can be optimally promoted. Clear rules and proper discipline help the child and the family, and society establish, maintain, and expand the order that is all that protects us from chaos and the terrors of the underworld, where everything is uncertain, anxiety provoking hopeless and depressing. There are no greater gifts that a committed and courageous parent can bestow.“