A 7 year old boy was lost and never found in the woods of Nannae, Hokkaido in May of 2016. The bear infested area was scoured by local authorities, but heart-breakingly, the little boy never turned up.
What was a 7 year old boy doing alone in the forest to begin with? According to his parents, little Yamato Tanooka was left there as a form of “punishment” for throwing stones at cars driving by. Shortly returning after the fact, they realized they had made a grim mistake. Their son was nowhere to be found.
The fate of little Yamato will remain a horrifyingly tragic mystery. But what about his parents? It can be assumed that they had good intentions. They were trying to instill discipline in their son and showed him that there were consequences to his actions.
But they had to learn a difficult lesson: there were even worse consequences to their disciplinary tactics.
How Parental Discipline Goes Rotten
Parents set guidelines and boundaries for their children to ensure their safety, as well as the safety of others.
Effective disciplinary action will for the most part keep children out of trouble. If they know there will be consequences to their actions, they are less likely to break the rules. But as sentient beings, they are able to think for themselves and will test the boundaries. It’s normal for children to act out and be a bit naughty from time to time.
The older the children get, the more gifted they become in thinking for themselves. As they reach the teenage years, they begin to question the boundaries that were set before them. At this point they’ve developed their own sense of right and wrong and begin to reject rules that they think are unfair or unnecessary.
As the growing children begins to rebel, parents sometimes feel that they need to tighten the reigns in order to regain control. But all this really does is cause a rift between the children and their parents.
The Sequel of Strict Parenting
At the early stage, children are too young to make the distinction between right and wrong, so they need that discipline to protect them.
For example: You may put your child in “time out” because they tried to turn on the stove. You’re not trying to crush their ambition to cook or be cruel, you just don’t want them to burn themselves.
But as children grow up, they are able to start making that distinction for themselves. Although the child is growing and changing, parents keep their disciplinary tactics the same. Some children will push back because they start to think independently. Other children will remain submissive, but only because they are afraid of being punished.
Good Children Gone Bad
For those who refuse to accept their parents tyrannical influence, there are one of two routes they will take.
Some will become more sneaky. They will improve their deceitful lying skills to avoid conflict with their parents and still follow their own rules. These children can grow up to be very manipulative and dishonest.
The other outcome is an outwardly rebellious child. They refuse to accept their parents’ discipline, so they act out. Believing that their parents still view them as children, they will try to prove them wrong by partaking in adult activities like staying out with friends, having sex, partying, or worse still they may be influenced by bad people and get addicted to bad things like drugs and alcohol. The more the children act out, the stricter the parents become in order to regain control. It’s a vicious, toxic cycle that doesn’t benefit anyone involved.
Disciplined Children Gone Narrow-minded
The children who remain submissive will ultimately suffer too. Although they always manage to appease their parents, their constant willingness to please can be extremely detrimental to their growth. People who mindlessly follow instructions lack critical thinking skills and struggle to analyze what would be best for them.
These children only know how to follow rules and cannot function without some form of direction. They’ll never rise up into leadership roles because they just don’t possess the skills. In a sense, parents who practice strict disciplinary action are unintentionally setting up their children for failure in the future.
How to Turn Things Around
If parents feel like losing control of their children no matter how hard they try, maybe it’s time to back off a bit. Parents should realize that their once tiny, naïve child is becoming a blinking, thinking adult; and they deserve recognition for this. The harder parents push, the farther they will flee. The only way to bring the children back to the parents is by proving that they don’t just view them as a child. They view them as a human being.
Parents need to be clear about the reasons behind their rules. “Because I said so” just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Speak to the children as equals. Not only will this strengthen the bond between parents and children, but it will also teach the children the concept of respect. As the children grow and change, so should the parenting style.
Rules and punishments don’t make good communication.
No matter how hard parents try, their children will make mistakes. They are only human. Parents need to understand this concept as the child dishes out their punishment.
Explain to the children why they are being punished. Talk to them calmly. Parents should never slam the children with unreasonable consequences because they are angry. The children can see right through it and ultimately respect their parents less.
Give the children the opportunity to make choices. To make mistakes. They will choose the right path simply because they were given the freedom to choose.
Discipline Is the Last Resort, Always
Don’t rely solely on punishment to develop a child into a well rounded individual. They have a voice, allow them to use it. If they talk back, listen. Explain your reasons to them, and allow them to explain theirs. When you reach a common ground, they will be more likely to stand with you.