I relayed that the forms of corporal punishment were very evident when I was growing up. One adult neighbor across the street used a “cat o’ nine tails” to give her children a lashing when they misbehaved. Any young person under the roof was fair game. If behavior was unruly or things got out of hand, everybody involved got a taste of the tails at least one time. Often, just the threat of getting the item out was enough to turn a bunch of little imps back into angels once again.
Teachers, secular and religious alike, regularly had yardsticks, rulers, or pointers at hand in school to mete out punishment, while at home the smacking force of hands on the backside was used as a form of correction. In addition to the physical, there was also the “dunce” cap or chair in the corner of the room, where--let’s face it--the “stupid” kids would be sent. Their ‘stupidity’ could range from forgetfulness on a lesson, to getting caught attempting some infraction.
Aside from the segregation and labeling, many did not see this as being as effective as when they were serious with the hitting. Some kids even used the time to take a nap! All of these, whether done once or repeatedly, were utilized in an effort to stop the offense by enforcing physical pain or presence in the here and now, and bring the offender to remember the proper or respectful way to be.
To remember the proper or respectful way to be. That sounds a lot like “right-mindfulness and right-action” to me; two important Buddhist tenets.
Because of the inhumane or extreme way some corporal punishment was delivered, the method changed. The one used most by parents and educators alike is called the “time-out.” The time-out is useful with children both young and old. Young ones realize they will take a break from participating in an fun activity for a period of time unless they figure out the right way to be. Older children can be sent to their room for quiet time to contemplate what they did wrong or how they might make amends.
That is how the time-out is “supposed” to work. However, not many parents are aware themselves of the process; nor will they actively work with their child(ren) in a therapeutic way to get them to see the wrongness in their action or the pain or suffering their behavior causes. The time-out, in effect, only reinforces part of the problem by telling the child their action is wrong. It does not help the young person to realize “why” the action is incorrect or “how” they might correct it.
Parents often do not clearly define behavioral expectations other than to say words like “be good” or “behave.” What, exactly, does than mean to a toddler--what is their point of reference? Consider the different meanings those words may have to a teenager--especially one that is likely to lose control. In addition, these days there are a lot of distractions in a child’s room that keep them from going within, as one might during an internal thought practice.I know parents who use the time-out regularly, only to find out the child has a cell phone or some other electronic device that keeps any attempt at internal assessment from taking place.
Consider the things that people do to achieve a meditative state. Many utilize the outdoors, and can even find Mother Nature’s bounty distracting at times. Zen practitioners utilize the minimal approach, and may constantly refine or pare-down their space until a proper working balance is achieved. People who do yoga or who are into alternative therapies find benefit from a clear space in which to be, which encourages a relaxing experience.
These states of mind are not often achievable with the frequency of a television set on in the room. When things get very much out of hand to the point where a regular time-out is not reasonable, a longer-term punishment called “grounding” is implemented. This is done usually when the parent decides the child’s behavior or wrong-action requires lengthier focus of correction.
The end result is expected to bring the child back into some sort of center balance; again, with the end goal being a reinforcement of what good behavior can be. The way this correction is