The kid and I watched Supernanny last night, one of our favorite Friday night treats -- we love to get appalled together by how bad the parenting is, and how Jo Frost makes the parents act right.
Last night was particularly appalling: a stay-at-home mom (I love how folks think that's a cure-all: so long as mom is at home full time, that's ALL she has to do! Be there! Nothing else is necessary!) with three boys; Dad was deployed in the Iraqi war.
Home was chaos. Why? Mom's solution -- to everything! -- was to hit the boys. Wallop them, for everything. Hit them, with her hand, with a belt, or threaten to hit them, for every transgression. And? Ignore them otherwise.
What did the boys do, when they weren't getting hit? Well, they beat on each other, of course, and they screamed and attacked their mother. What else were they going to do?
Mom didn't talk to them, or play with them, or read to them (no books in the house -- that's one thing I've noticed about every household Jo Frost gets called to: not a single bookshelf in any of them, not a single book: hmm!): the four year old watched TV all day, the school-age kids came home from school and started beating each other up right away, until Mom, literally, locked them out in the back yard.
Jo's solution? She established a no-hitting rule. Not only that the kids could not hit each other -- Mom could not hit the kids. No yelling either. What a concept!
She also established rewards -- a pie chart thing -- for following the rules, and got Mom to start talking to and hanging out with her kids. (Reading to them too, I noticed. Heh!)
She also taught Mom to compromise with the kids -- not do this or else, but, okay, you don't want to do this: what about this?
In other words: not perfect obedience or I'll beat you, but let's see how we can work things out, why don't we? Let's treat our children like human beings.
That Jo. She's clever.
3 hours ago