Why Do We Punish Children? Problems with House/ School Rules and Discipline
In this essay I will base the rules and its problems on my experiences and also, common occurrences that happen in households. I will explain my life as best as I can for the readers to understand this.
Before we start we must ask ourselves the questions, Why Do We Punish Children? What is the purpose for doing so? Do we just want to be cruel or do we want to do the children well? Well, these are my answers. We punish children when they are bad, to teach them about the consequences of their bad actions so that they can improve on their actions next time around and be ready for similar situations later on in life. We do not punish youths to be cruel; it is to help them to know how to cope with situations as adults and that crimes have their consequences.
I am always noticing many flaws in the way my parents run the rules of the house. I live with, a Mother, a Stepfather and I am the eldest of 5 children. So, there are many problems with rules and keeping up with them because my stepfather, who tends to make the rules, does not think before he imposes them. He never not announces new rules to us he always makes us learn the hard way by telling us the new rule after we have broken it. Already, you may see what is wrong, there is a lack of communication within the household, this isn't discipline, and this is badly planned order.
Some of these rules don't even make much sense to me. One of them is to close the bathroom door when you come out of it; meaning to door is closed at all times even when no one is in there. We have a small house so there are a lot of closets in the hallway and a washing basket between them and the bathroom door. This means it is impossible to close the bathroom door without moving the basket. When we come out of the bathroom it is impossible to close the door fully, so it always has to be closed half way at least. Sometimes the door with just bounce back at the plastic basket, leaving it open again and we get told off for this, even though it's not our fault.
I don't even see the reason to close the door. There are many flaws in this. First of all if the door is always closed it is hard to tell if someone is in the bathroom or not. It is easier to tell if the door is always open when the room is free and always closed when it is not. Also, when we shower the room becomes filled with steam which can only escape if the door is open, but if it is always meant to be closed then the room will look like a steam room, something we are told off for. Perhaps we could at least keep the door open after we have showered and left the room to let the steam escape, this stops the walls from going mouldy and stops paint peeling. However, if we do leave the door open to prevent this we are told off but we are also told off if the room is too steamy once we leave the bathroom!
It is almost impossible to follow both rules at the same time, leave the bathroom clean and close the door. These rules conflict with each other and cause a lot of stress for us.
Staying in the same area of the house, when we shower we are constantly told be quick. This is okay for a man, which he is, because they take no time at all in the shower. But, it is hard for a woman (I am a 16 year old girl) to take five minutes in the shower when she has to wash her hair, condition it, clean her body and shave certain parts of it. It cannot be done properly within five minutes! So, I usually take about ten minutes which I find is ok however if at any time I take too long I am told off for it. When the man himself can spend over an hour in the bathroom when decides to go and shower and shave etc all in one.
This is absolute hypocrisy.
There is also another rule which conflicts with this, if we do not leave the bathroom clean and tidy once we have left then he will tell us off and make us clean it. For example, one hair from my head is left at the side of the bath and he classes this as disgusting and makes me get rid of it before he or one of his young children can get into the shower. Or, water is left around the taps of the sink. The problem with this is that to leave the room absolutely spotless when we leave means we are going to take longer to do so, but we are scolded for taking too long. Here is another pair of rules that conflict with each other.
Very similar to the first rule I explained the rules to always close bedroom doors, whether we are inside or outside of them. I will never leave my bedroom door open wide because it is in full view of the hallway and I feel as if I am being spied on. But sometimes when other people leave the room or I leave the door open ajar so I can leave it again easily, my stepfather acts on it. It is as if he is always there, as if he comes up the stairs just the check whether the doors are closed. But he doesn't tell us off, no. He sneaks up so we don't hear him coming and he slams the doors so loudly possibly even next door can hear. The whole room shakes and I am frightened out of my skin, as if I could have some kind of heart attack.
You may be asking yourself, what are the benefits of all of these rules? Are they doing any good by being there? No! He is just controlling us in all ways possible and having everything the way he wants it. This is wrong, what are we going to learn when we are older by closing all doors at all time? Nothing!
Moving onto another problem with house rules and discipline, this is false accusations. These happen a lot in a house with many children. One child may lie about another to settle scores to get themselves out of trouble and others into it. Whenever something has been said about a child and adult should NEVER jump to conclusions and punish the accused child without explanation.
For example, if one child knocks over a valuable item, breaking it, however this was not seen by the parent however the parent becomes angry when the damage is discovered. One of the children jumps into action, blaming their younger or older sibling. For an adult to immediately believe them is wrong. If this accused child is not sent to bed or given a mild beating only for the parent to find out the truth later that the child who told off the accused really did it, what has the wrongly punished child learnt? Nothing good that's for sure. They may now have only learnt hatred and that there is no way out of unfairly give punishments.
This has happened many times in my household my younger brother is always told off by my younger half sister, and my stepfather always falls for her lies. So, my brother is sent to bed early because of a ridiculously unreal accusation. However, by the end of the day the next day, the truth is out. This is all wrong, a complete lack of communication, my brother learns no worth while lesson and what is worse, and my half sister is not even punished for lying! No lessons are learnt here and the children may suffer for it later in life because the adult wants to treat children to his liking.
The same scenario happens in schools regularly. So, what should happen in these situations? If an accusation has been made the parents or teachers must ask the most significant witnesses until the truth is found. Only then can punishments be given. Punishments or at least discouragement should also be given for lying or false accusation.
In addition, if two students have committed the same or equal crimes then they should both be punished equally. Never, should a child be punished less or not at all because of favouritism or even disability or behaviour problems. The child may have these problems, if they are serious and are the cause for the misbehaviour then perhaps a punishment should be dealt to them but to a much lesser extent. I am mentioning this because there is a prominent problem within my brother's primary school where a child with a slight disability gets away with the bullying of other children because of his disability. If it is affecting other students, then action should definitely be taken upon them.
Another issue I would like to stress about is mistakes and accidents. Every human makes mistakes, even adults however there are times when children make mistakes and they are punished for them as if what they did wrong was a deliberate act. For example, the case is used earlier of breaking an item in the household. The majority of the times this happens, it will happen by accident, this terrible act was not deliberate therefore the child should not be punished so severely for doing so. There is also the mistake, perhaps a child decides to do something that they think will have a good outcome however does not turn out how they wanted to and cause a problem, this is a mistake. Neither of these should be looked on as serious crimes because the misbehaviour was not intentional therefore are not an awful crime.
If adults punish children for making mistakes and causing accidents that what will they learn? That human errors in which we sometimes cannot stop, are unacceptable? This is wrong, the child should not be punished severely unless the crime was severe in itself and it was intentional. If mistakes and accidents do take place then the adult responsible for the child should talk to the child and teach the child about ways they can avoid the case next time around and learn about their mistakes, not get punished for an error.
Finally, you should note, the examples I used in this article that was based on my own experiences, were not used to tell my experiences and make the readers feel sorry, I do not expect sympathy reviews. Those experiences were used to make parents and other adults see the errors in some methods of discipline and rules. What I do expect from you is that, if you are the user of some of these faulty methods in discipline I have mentioned, could you all please take my words into mind and think about how it is affecting the children and it would also be great if you perhaps change your policies towards your children/ students.
So, in conclusion;
Rules are in place to ensure safety and order within households and schools. Only necessary rules should be in place and they should be simple enough for a child to follow.
Punishments should be dealt only when the crime is certain and the child knows exactly what they are being punished for and how they can improve.
Mistakes and accidents should not be looked upon as serious crimes. The child should be taught how to avoid it the next time around but not punished.
Think about what is best for the children in the long term. Before you jump to conclusions about misbehaviour ask yourself these questions. Are the punishments being given necessary and are the children learning anything from them? Is the rule the children broke a really necessary and benefit others by being put in place? In the long term will the child benefit from these punishments or will it just leave bitter relations?
Thank you for reading.