I love being on the Alberta Primetime Lifestyle Panel. We recently sat down to talk about the Bus Driver Incident, Public Humiliation of our kids as a form of punishment, and a few other pertinent topics. Hope you enjoy my summary of our discussion.
This shows how incredibly hard the job of a bus driver is. You are responsible for the safety of everyone on the bus and the other people on the road. You have to also make sure the students are not being picked on, bullied, or misbehaving. I am not sure what tools they have in terms of discipline, but in the video, it looks like this kid was being a bully and inciting the other kids to disrespect the driver. As parents, the primary concern should be to address the issues of basic safety on the bus. I have a hard time with kicking him off the bus so far from home, but again, I’m not in that situation myself so it’s difficult to say he was wrong or right. I would have preferred to take him home and then deal with things via the school and parents the next day. But this may have been a pattern; he may have been warned; there may have been other factors.
Public Humiliation as Discipline
Discipline is very important. I don’t believe in “free-range kids”. However, I’m not at all in favour of humiliation or shaming of kids as “discipline”. You may control the behaviour in the moment but the long-term effects in the kid’s self-image, self-esteem, and (like Wendy Mueller says) as a “relationship-destroyer” are not worth it. If the child is strong-willed, the problem may even escalate, according to Dr. Peter Nieman. Our job as parents is to help kids learn how to be healthy, happy, productive, and contributing members of society—not to just make sure they behave.
What I teach is…
1. Have consistent and reasonable consequences for behaviour that are clear and make sense.
2. Make sure the kid knows what the expectations and the consequences (both positive and negative) are.
3. “Honor their decisions” and give them the consequences their behaviour tells you they have chosen.
4. But always send the message that who the kid is valuable and loved.
Kids and Extreme Sports
It’s great when kids are into something (other than electronics, et cetera), but we have to be careful not to be so happy they’re not isolating themselves or getting lost in the virtual world that we overlook dangers and problems in the real world. Remember: “The opposite of dysfunction is dysfunction!”
There are a few issues with letting kids do extreme sports:
1. They don’t have enough experience to have good judgement. They haven’t been on earth long enough to see how some things play out
2. Their brain development is not complete, so they don’t have good judgment. Especially in their teens—they are all passion and intelligence, but little reasoning and “behavioural inhibition”.
3. Physical and brain trauma, concussions, and mild-traumatic brain injury—your brain is make up of different densities, so different parts move at different rates and have different inertia. Sudden head movements (starting or stopping) actually rips the brain apart at the cellular level—this is called “atonal severing”. These can be devastating to a child or teen’s personality, intelligence, and quality of life forever. I would say wait until they are much older and have more experience, and even then you probably still have to help them learn limits.
But one question to ask if you have kids interested in extreme sports is what their motive is. Is it to prove their superiority—that they’re special or better than their friends? Like both Dr. Peter Nieman and Wendy Mueller say, if their passion for the sport is there, safety should always come first (training, supervision, and proper protective equipment). It could be a good learning experience for them to take some risks, discover their own limitations, and discover other new passions.
Preventing Summer Backsliding
This is a real problem for some kids. I remember forgetting how to write or which had the pencil goes in after summer vacation. The key is to make staying sharp fun: structured learning around games and contests. Make it a built-in aspect of your daily or weekly routine in the summer. Do it as a family/group: “this is our quiet/homework/learning/enrichment time”. Don’t do it for too long each day; depending on the kid (age, maturity, et cetera), fifteen minutes to an hour is plenty. Also remember that helping your kids enjoy learning and feel good about themselves is also part of the goal, so don’t frustrate them. Start with easy stuff in each session and also in general over the summer, and then move to more challenging material. Success breeds success.
Taking a break also helps kids stay engaged, so don’t worry about missing a few days, or even a week or two if you’re traveling. Traveling itself can be a very educational and enriching experience over the summer. Just make sure you make it a deliberate decision and not just because either of you don’t feel like it at the time. That can be a slippery slope with kids.
Health, Love, Happiness, Success
Dr. Ganz Ferrance