Wednesday, 10 April 2013


Such an emotive issue.... everyone seems to have lots of advice... and the amount of people who say 'well, I was smacked as child and it never did me any harm etc etc etc...' as they twitch uncontrollably or flinch at the slightest door slam... I'm not looking for answers here - just off loading...

Papa always reminds the children that his father had a cane - not that it was ever used, but he doesn't tell the kids that bit - they just look at Grandpa with both fear and awe - admittedly it does automatically give him a certain respect in their eyes although I'm not sure what would happen if we actually saw this 'cane' or if it is just a figment of Papa's imagination.

Although the cane is still widely used in Singapore schools (the very schools Mr Gove thinks we should be emulating) - when I first arrived as a teacher there I was stunned to see a line of little boys being lined up in their primary school assembly to have their legs whipped with a huge cane brandished by the discipline master. (I'm sure Mr Gove wasn't shown that as he toured some of the most expensive schools in Singapore) It wasn't my place to comment of course, but the lady I was working with cried all morning. Again, I can't really comment on the whys and wherefores as, to be honest, one of the things that makes Singapore such a great country to live and work in, and visit is the respect for authority that must have been instilled at a very young age - after all, how many tourists come back raving about how clean it is and how polite everyone is - those things don't just happen overnight. Then we look at our own streets and moan about the dirtiness , the graffiti, the groups of teenagers with nothing better to do you can see where the comparisons can lead you - at least in Singapore the teenagers are studying like mad to get their expected results. I'm sure many of my Singapore friends will be able to add their stories and experiences, so, as I say, I'm not making any judgements here. But it does highlight the differences in discipline that Papa and I both have.

I'm not saying for an instant that Papa would cane the children - he hasn't got it in him, under all that bluster he is a big softie... but today.. today I could quite happily have led TJ to the discipline master myself!!!!!!!!!

I have always promised that I would never smack the children but would reason with them and explain exactly why what they were doing was wrong.. I hear loads of you falling about laughing as I write that - and to be honest, today I can agree. Obviously, for our kids it is slightly different, where my own parents would have given me a quick smack and sent me to my room (I'm of that generation) we know that for many children who come into care that they were beaten and didn't know when the smacking would stop, they were also locked in their room for days on end, TJ has a habit of eating blutac if you leave him in his room for too long - so that form of discipline would probably send them into a spiral of despair or fear... or something similar. But then what are you left with? We do practise 'time in' where the boys have to sit next to us when they are naughty (or 'make poor choices' as we don't like the 'n' word). This means the boys sit quietly while I do something boring - like write my blog. Hence Lea is currently sitting on the bed behind me staring at the back of my head - I can feel the daggers hurtling into my back from her eyes - as she has been grounded and lost her privileges for today (no TV or computer games).

This form of discipline works well for now - but what happens as they get older? I know that our kids are easily led and will happily stray away with the sorts of children who will lead him into trouble - so where do we go from here?

Today I can see the argument for a short sharp, and probably painful shock, but I don't think that in the long run it will do any good so I step away from it... I just don't know what to replace it with.

What was his crime.?.. She got angry with her brother in the park - so threw her scooter at him... and then in a fit of rage threw the scooter down the hill and then kept picking it up and throwing it further trying to break it. When she realised I was watching she just said, 'Why are you looking at me - it's mine and I'll break it if I want..."I grounded her there and then, unfortunately for her, her best friend (and someone I would like for him to spend more time with) came around the corner and asked if Lea wanted to play - Lea's face lit up, the demon was gone and my little girl was back - but I had already made the punishment (or 'consequence' as we don't like the 'p' word either) and had to stick by my guns - hence a really upset little girl is sitting behind me willing me to explode!

What is gratifying is that she is obviously showing remorse - I would be really concerned if she simply didn't care about the consequences of her actions... hopefully, that will be the saving grace.

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