Parents urged to say "NO"

IN THE modern, mollycoddled world of parenting, the word "no" has gone the way of phrases such as "Do that again, and I'll smack you" and "Don't make me hurt the wooden spoon with your backside."

But parenting expert Janet Cater says not saying no is a big no-no.

"This idea that it's not okay to say no to your child seems to have snuck in with the no-smacking thing,'' Mrs Cater says.

"It's this new trend that says we have to negotiate with children and give them choices.

"Smacking's not okay, but we seem to have thrown out `no' as well - which is wrong, because children still need to be told no.

"It's a long way from a hiding to nothing, from the bad old days when people would hit kids to this idea now that you don't do anything at all and just let them run wild.

"We need the pendulum to swing back the other way.''

Mrs Cater, who has been working with children for more than 40 years, says she is dismayed when she hears about parents who are trying to find circuitous ways to avoid the simple, single-syllable negative.

"It's true that it's always better to tell children what you want rather than what you don't want: `Please come down the stairs' rather than 'No, don't go up the stairs','' she says.

"But when you've already explained 13,000 times why it's wrong to hit people, you get to the point where you just have to say no.

"A lot of parents let their children set the boundaries and do what they want. The theory is that if you say no to them all the time, they'll just start saying no back - and that's true to an extent; you can overdo it.

"But children need boundaries, and if they don't get them they will act out and misbehave.''

According to recent research by the Australian Council for Educational Research, "increasing numbers of young children exhibit aggressive, disruptive, hostile and inconsiderate behaviours''.

Mrs Cater is running a series of parenting workshops titled If I've Told You Once ... Better Ways To Parent.

She says addressing problems in early childhood is essential for parents who are keen to avoid having their children end up in brat camps for wild teenagers.

"As I say in my workshops, if you can't control your three-year-old, you've got Buckley's of controlling your 15-year-old,'' Mrs Cater says.

Among the families she has been working with are the Larsens, of Manly.

Sue and Andrew Larsen have two children: Hugh, aged four, and Ingrid, two.

Sue Larsen says she can't imagine parenting without the word "no'' in her arsenal.

"I absolutely believe in saying no,'' she says. "But it's the way the child reacts when you say no that leaves you thinking: 'Where do I go from here?'

"I've put the boundaries up, and the child is still not responding. You get the tears and the tantrums, and it's about how you cope with that.

"That's where Janet's been so helpful, putting strategies in place and knowing how the child's brain is mapped so you can disrupt certain patterns.

"If they're crying about wanting to talk on the phone while I'm on it, you can activate a different part of their brains by talking about colour, and they're distracted by that.''

Ian Dalton, executive director of the Australian Parents Council, says he is aware of the just- don't-say-no trend.

"Once you start making rules around this kind of language, it gets a bit nonsensical,'' he says.

"We end up in a situation where we have paralysis by overanalysis, because there are just too many experts out there trying to explain the technical aspects of parenting.

"In an ideal world, people might speak in particular ways, but we would all end up sounding like robots.

"If we don't say no to our children, they're eventually going to get into situations where someone will say no to them - and what are they going to do then?''

Mr Dalton says the council's research has shown that many very good parents feel they aren't doing a good job because they haven't kept up with the latest child-rearing fads.

"Parents should be allowed to follow their instincts and to live their lives in a positive way - where every action isn't subject to severe scrutiny,'' he says.

Vest Say's: Never once did I strike my children, any minor corporal punishment was dealt out by my loving wife to our five sons, a sound smack with a wet hand on a bare bum gained their attention more often than not, and it certainly has created more good than harm. Our family has had its internal feuds occasionally but has survived generally as a whole without crimminal intent. Our sons have never been unemployed or on the dole, and despite the constant canings at the schools I attended, it has been a lesson learned that needless brutality and canings are regressive and build dissention.
Parenting skills should be mandatory and taught to all parents, and of course the role of the child to their parents too.
Pie in the sky and wishful thinking, shove it in the too hard basket it will never happen.


Vest said…
This relates to the time I absconded from the tyranical boarding school.

On the 20 December 1936, having been told by my brother that he was going home again to Auntie Parker, I raised the roof and said, “I should go, too!” I was told, “No money, no ticket, no permission. Sorry, you’ll have to stay”. Like bloody hell, I thought. Then the bugler sounded the action stations call and the lucky ones – about half the population of the school – marched to the East Oakville Station.
Two or three hours later, I was on a train that had stopped at a large station. My friend, Ernie Booker and I had no idea where we were going and must have looked conspicuous. The ticket bloke and staff at the station locked us up. Soon after, we were back at HNA.
Living in a dark cloud of rejection, I was totally at odds with that place. I wondered how much more I would have to suffer.
22 December 1936
My brother had arrived in Charlham. Meanwhile, I was confused and in a state of apathy. Ernie and I were in serious trouble. Having only been at this place for six days, I was to get six cuts of the cane. Having no one to turn to for help, I was wretchedly homesick. It was suggested by a few teachers that because it was so close to Christmas we should be forgiven, but our Capt. Superintendent replied, “Peace on earth and goodwill to all men applies only on Christmas day.”
The remaining population of the school gathered to witness our punishment. A box horse for us to bend over was produced, plus the biggest rattan cane – even bigger than the one at Charlham School. Ernie went first. It seemed like a bloody execution – minus the knitting hags, the French National Anthem, and a basket for our heads. Ernie was brave but white as a sheet after his six, and had to go to the sickbay. I later learned he had received a testicular injury.
Ernie going first made little difference, as another instructor, ‘Gunner Marten’ was to be my tormentor. I felt bloody awful. My thin trousers barely hid the bleeding welts across my buttocks. After the six strokes, I shouted in agonising pain, “I hope you die, you rotten cruel sod!” and got number seven. Gunner Marten died during the war about four years later. I was unmoved.
Christmas in HNA was over. Our total excitement had consisted of two church parades, an apple, an orange, and cake. Where was Charlie Dickens? What a pity he missed out on this place.
Anonymous said…
'Crikey that forsoothe sounds very Dickensian indeed'. Presuming it was a very young Vest copping the walloping, How old were you at the time?.
Vest said…
Oxford guy: I arrived at 'that'*#@%$#&^school on Wednesday Dec 16 1936,I was exactly 10 years and five months old and about four feet high, Quite robust when compared to some others of comparable age. However, anyone administering a beating of this magnitude in this day and age would more than likely end up for a long spell in the slammer.
The superintendant at the school 'Flogger Campbell' was removed from his post about 1947. he received a short custodial sentence due to ill health and passed on in 1950. many old boys visited his grave near watlington oxfordshire, for the pleasure of pissing on him. Or am I right thinking you heard about this Ox guy.
Jim said…
children can and must be told NO until the age of 18

after that age
allow them to make their own choices

u can only guide them if only and only if they ask for guidance
Jim said…
First let me say this. It's a skill to
know what's part of a bipolar disorder
episode or what can lead up to one
versus what is a person's normal

Today I am going to give you one technique
that you can use to help yourself figure
it out. This isn't the only technique
but only one.

Here's what you do. You get a blank sheet
of paper and you write down answers
to when you FIRST met the person that
you are supporting.

How did the person normally treat people
What type of language did the person normally use
How kind was he/she
Did he/she curse
Did he/she curse in a mean way towards you
Did he/she yell at you
Was he/she caring?

I think you get the idea. You write down
these answers.

Then step two is to envision the person
and what they were like when you first met
them. Spend at least 10 minutes thinking
about this.

Now you have a clear picture of the way
the person is and now you take this picture
and the information on your sheet and you
compare or juxtapose it against current

If there is a big difference this could
be a sign the person is not under the right
treatment plan or currently in a bipolar
disorder episode.

When I first started supporting my mom,
I use to use worksheets and do a lot of
work to figure it out. But then it because
built into me and I know longer needed
my own self created instructions (the ones
that I just helped you make).

Today I can tell almost instantly what is normal
behavior for my mom versus bipolar behavior.

But I have a number of other means to figure
this out as well. That's just one technique
I use.

I have more in my Bipolar Supporter Course.
If you have bipolar disorder I have information
in my Bipolar Success Course on what to do
when you feel yourself "going off track."

You can get more information on them below.

Keshi said…
for once I agree with Jim :)

Vest said…
This was related to me by my doctor.
A noted psychiatrist was a guest at the gathering of 'Humor Editors' and the host broached the subject in which the doctor was most at ease.
"Would you mind telling me, Doctor' he asked, "How do you detect a mental deficiency in somebody who appears completely normal?"
"Nothing is easier," he replied.
"You ask a simple question that everyone should answer with no trouble. If there is any hesitation, that puts you on the track."
"What sort of question?"
"Well you might ask,'Captain Cook' made three trips around the world and died during one of them. Which one?"
The editor thought for a moment,then said with a nervous laugh, "You wouldn't have another example would you? I must confess I don't know much about history."

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