The person who doesn’t think before he acts can’t figure out why he does bad things and bad things happen to him. He maintains, therefore, that his bad behavior was an accident, he didn’t mean it, and usually blames whatever it is on someone else. Blaming and complaining are his specialties. He’s a victim, and by definition, victims are not happy people. By the way, victimhood is always a choice. The reason one is a victim is not to be found either in his body or out there in the world. Victimhood is in one’s head. Always.
Above all else, parents do not want their kids to ever become victims. Being a victim is perhaps the worst state of mind that mankind has ever invented.
Not to complicate the issue, but there will be times when a child misbehaves and parental punishment would be unnecessarily redundant. If a child does something wrong, and the natural consequence of whatever he did is sufficiently punishing, for example, then parents can usually end the matter by simply discussing it with the child: reviewing what happened, making sure the child understands why it happened, and ensuring he has “learned his lesson” and knows he is still cherished.
It’s important, regardless, that parents not buffer natural consequences unless they threaten a child’s physical or emotional health. Fifty-plus years ago, that’s what parents referred to when they said, “You made this bed, kiddo, so you’re going to have to lie in it.” That relatively few children today hear what every child once heard is a marker of where childrearing has gone over the past couple of generations. All too often in these topsy-turvy times, parents lie in the beds their kids make.
That looks like good parenting only to the nearsighted.
Visit family psychologist John Rosemond’s website at www.johnrosemond.com; readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org; due to the volume of mail, not every question will be answered.