by Michael Pearl from No Greater Joy – Too Young To Spank?
Let me give you an example of the application of the “rod of training.” A six-month-old throws his food bowl on the floor because he doesn’t like what is in it. This is the early stage of self-will and defiance. If the little guy gets away with it and if his parents don’t constrain him to do otherwise, then they are normalizing such behavior. Furthermore, they are allowing the seeds of defiance to grow in the child’s soul. Rebuke here would not be effective, nor would punishment. The child would not make any connection between his action and any suffering that you inflicted. If he were spanked hard enough to create significant pain, he would become so distracted with the pain and so fearful and emotionally disturbed that he could not be trained to any end. Remember, the child is simply expressing his will by dumping the food in the floor. I have had food set before me that I felt like dumping on the floor, but it would have been socially embarrassing to take that action. The child has no social consciousness, so he does whatever he feels like. Dumping it is not a great offense for a six-month-old, but he will not always be six months old, and it won’t be cute for long. It will make you downright mad when he is three years old and flings a whole plate of food into your lap.
So we watch him, knowing his propensity to selfish compulsion. When he seizes his bowl with intentions of dumping it, swat the offending hand with a little instrument (light wooden spoon, rubber spatula, flexible tubing less than a quarter inch in diameter, or any instrument that will cause an unpleasant sting without leaving any marks). As you swat the offending hand, say “No” in a normal commanding voice. The tone is more important than the word―not angry―but decisive. Children understand the temperament in your tone before they are born, and will recognize it. This swat is not punishment. Probably, it will not even cause the little guy to cry. He will be shocked and stop any action in which he is engaged. Explain to him that he is not to throw his food onto the floor. If he again makes an attempt, swat his hand again and say, no. The third time is the charm. He now knows that “No” uttered in a commanding tone, is something serious. He will not try that stunt again—at least not for this meal.
Understand well, if he has already dumped his food onto the floor, it is too late to swat him. He will not make the intellectual association, and any spanking would then be “punishment” for past deeds, entirely counterproductive for a small child. If you didn’t catch him as he was attempting to spill it, then you must put the plate and food back in front of him and be ready to respond when he tries it again. This is training for the purpose of discipline. The child will actually profit emotionally from this exercise, for he is constrained to act in ways that will make him more loved and cause him to find wide approval from everyone he is around. A child with unacceptable habits becomes a rejected child, then a dejected child, and eventually a self-loathing kid who feels that he can never please anyone and that no one likes him. I am sorry the psychologists and secular child advocates don’t get it, but then if all parents practiced child training as I have suggested, there wouldn’t be any need for abnormal psychologists or child protection agencies. A lot of people would move on to more practical kinds of work, and there wouldn’t be any more crime or war.
Yes, we spank our little ones, but only as we define spanking, not as others might imagine it to be. We obey God in applying the rod of training, not because we are gullible and blind religious fools, but because the Word of God has made us wise beyond our secular peers. We know what is good for our children. We know it from experience, our own and the experience of our forefathers who walked in wisdom applying the rod of correction to our backsides. Some of us don’t remember any of the much-talked-about “cruel beatings” that are attributed to our “strong disciplinarian” forefathers. We remember loving parents who cared for our souls. They applied the rod with firmness and dignity. To us, they represented the law of God, and they stood for everything that was good and wholesome. They called us to the higher path and chastened us when they felt we needed a little reminder to walk by the rule of law rather than by our passions. Today, we thank them, just as our children now thank us. Since our Heavenly Father chastens us (Hebrews 12), could we do otherwise than to emulate his child-training methods?
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