Sunday, December 23, 2012

Michael Pearl is right about training kids like dogs!

I was just thinking about pain...and it's usefulness in "training children."

People seem to think that this is the way to train kids. They do something you dislike so you give them pain and they'll be enlightened and never do that thing again. Authors like Michael Pearl have even likened training kids to training dogs and mules. 

Now, we have an invisible fence around our property for our dogs. This fence gives them (and us) a lot of freedom. But, to enjoy that freedom they had to learn the boundaries of the fence and that took some training. First they had to be shown the boundary (via flags). They had to be led toward the boundary and then rushed back toward the house and praised. (they had to learn that going toward the house is good and pleasurable!) Then, they had to be introduced to the shocking collar and allowed to experience what happens when they cross the boundary.

If one were to compare training kids to training dogs this would seem to be an obvious clear-cut example of the value of spanking. 

Dog learns where the boundary is.
Dog learns that crossing that line = pain.
Dog learns that escape from that pain = move toward the owner and home.

Hmmm.

So, how is this parallel to spanking? 
Let's see...

Baby learns where boundary is...
"Don't touch the knick-knacks on the coffee table!"
Baby learns that crossing that line = pain.
Mom hits baby's hand.
Baby learns that escape from that pain = move toward...um...mom? who just hit baby and was the source of the pain? 
Wait a minute.

Something must be wrong with my example. We'll try another...

Kid learns where boundary is...
"Don't run out into the street!"
Kid learns that crossing that line = pain.
Mom or dad whacks kid on hiney to cause pain.
Kid learns that esape from that pain = move toward...um...mom or dad who...um...just were the source of the pain.

Something's not working!

Why don't we try starting from the kid example and apply it to training the dog on the fence! Let's try it that way!

Dog learns where boundary is...
Dog is "told not to cross the boundary" in doggy language...basically shown the boundary flags by owner and pulled back from the flags to indicate "stay away from those."
Dogs learns that crossing that line = pain
Dog is allowed to cross line and the collar gives him a zap!
Dogs learns that escape from that pain = run toward the source of the pain

Wait. 
Again. 
This is not working.

In training the dog the consequence of crossing the boundary = pain and the owner and home are the escape from the pain of that. 
In the way people (like Michael Pearl and James Dobson) train kids...the home is the source of the pain.
This is not correlating at all. This is not making any sense.

Maybe we have the dog training part messed up? Maybe that's why this is not working?

What if to train the dog on the invisible fence we did it this way:
Teach dog where boundary is
Teach dog that crossing boundary = pain
Teach dog that escape from the pain = run toward owner and house 
Teach dog that owner scolds and punishes dog after retreating from crossed boundary

That way now it would be just like how we train kids...
Teach kid where boundary is...
Teach kid that crossing boundary = pain...
Teach kid that...after crossing boundary...to run to parents to receive punishment, scolding (more pain) 

When you look at it this way is should look as wrong and silly as it is because you know what would happen to a dog trained like this! 
(And, I would dare say God designed dogs this way to show us this truth!) 

We all know that if we scold and punish the dog when it's retreating from the zapping from the fence that all it would do would be to confuse the dog. The dog would never make sense of his world and would never understand that boundary or its consequences...ever!

So, maybe Michael Pearl is right?
Maybe training kids is just like training a dog?
He just doesn't apparently seem to understand how to train a dog...

If the true process to train a dog to stay within the boundary of the invisible fence is to do the following things...how would you do this with your child?
1. clearly show the boundary
2. establish the safe zone by the owner showing praise and comfort when moving away from the boundary
3. allow the dog to experience the consequence of crossing the line and feeling the pain caused by that line being crossed
4. be there to comfort and praise to the dog when the dog rushes toward the safety of the owner and home

In the training of a dog...the owner is not the source of the pain. The crossing of the boundary is. 

The dog clearly sees this because the pain always comes from the crossed boundary and the pleasure and safety always comes from the owner. A dog so trained will never get zapped by that fence again...and will never cower or run from the owner, for that matter. Trained this way the owner and home are unquestionably a source of safety and comfort that the dog learns to run toward for the relief of his pain and fear. 

The dog is safer because of this and everyone has more freedom and joy in life and in the relationship between owner and dog.

A child who would be trained this way...the way we train a dog...would learn where boundaries are and what the consequences are of crossing those boundaries AND the child would learn to always run to the parent when they are in trouble.

Imagine! Imagine a world where kids run to parents when they've done something wrong and look to their parents for help?!

Imagine a world where kids know their parents are always there for them to help them no matter what trouble they get into?

Imagine kids who don't try to hide their mistakes because they know the best way to get out of the pain that mistake's caused is to run to the parent?

If only people would train kids the way they train dogs!!!

Instead we live in a world where...people don't train their children the way they'd train a dog. We live in a world where well-meaning Christian parents are teaching their children that when they cross a boundary that the parent is a source of pain.

Well-meaning parents are teaching their children to run from that which God has designed them to find safety and refuge in: them. 

Well-meaning parents are therefore teaching their children by extension then to run from God, as well. 

In the world that spanked kids live in they don't fully comprehend true consequences and they fear pain from all sides. Nothing is safe.

So, what to do?

If a baby is too little to comprehend the consequence of handling and possibly breaking knick-knacks...they should be moved. If they are old enough to understand the true consequence of breaking something someone cares about then the pain they would feel at ruining something someone cares about should be the pain they want to avoid...not the pain of being hit by a parent.

Kids should fear running out into traffic because of the fear of the pain of being struck by a car not because they fear being struck by a parent.

All boundaries have consequences if they're crossed. It's our job as parents to teach kids that we are the source of safety, comfort, and relief from the pain those crossed boundaries bring upon them...and by extension then that God is that source of safety and refuge. 

If what our children learn to fear is us, then...they will never truly comprehend what the true source of pain is from the consequences of their actions...and what kids will end up running from will be home...to the point that they'll be willing to cross painful boundaries and get "zapped" to get away from us...

When in this world we children (of God) mess up and "cross boundaries" and are in pain from the consequences of those choices...we all want to run to God, "Save me!" 

This is how our children should see us...a source of salvation from their pain. 

When a kid "crosses a boundary" and a dad says to the kid, "Get over here!" And, that kid thinks about "what he's got coming to him..." it should be something the kid wants and craves not fears.

- - -

ROMANS 1:18-20
...that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.



Which type of parent are you when your child's done something wrong?









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