Chapter Fifteen: Discipline Issues (Part Two)
While the previous chapter focused on a specific parenting “problem,” this chapter covers a variety of common childhood misbehaviors. All of which the author assures us are easily able to be controlled by proper parenting. He provides a list of these misbehaviors in the opening portion of the chapters: tattling, hyperactivity, sibling conflict, lying, whining, temper tantrums, and power struggles.
The first item on that list to be addressed is whining. Gary Ezzo has some strong feelings on whining. And refers to it as obnoxious and as a “subtle challenge to parental authority.” (p228 GKGW) He sees it as an indirect way for a child to challenge the parent’s authority.
The age of the child is then discussed as it relates to whining. Gary Ezzo states that a young infant can’t understand or communicate with words. So whining is used as an alternative. However, Gary has a solution. He suggests teaching your children sign language.
While sign language can be used at a young age to aid in communication, this is not a healthy way to do that. Forcing your eight month old to use sign language to receive food or water is harsh and unrealistic. Also keep in mind that this child would be disciplined or isolated to their crib if they refused to use the proper sign language.
For older children, he suggests making any sort of whining strictly forbidden. If a child does use a whining tone the child should be forced to wait five minutes before asking again. If the child uses a whining tone after that point Gary suggests a spanking or a period of isolation in their room as a punishment.
The next issues that Gary wishes to address is temper tantrums. This, according to the author, is “the ultimate rejection of parental authority.” (p231 GKGW) It is also made clear that Gary feels that this is not just something a child will outgrow. Also for a little further insight into how Gary views children, I’ll add a few more details. As Gary Ezzo boldly states that the two motives of a child for a temper tantrum are blackmail and revenge. Catch the picture here? The child is evil and actively schemes against a parent’s authority. Plotting angry outbursts against them if they don’t get their way.
For kids 2.5 yrs and younger Gary suggest isolating the child to their room during a tantrum or walking away from it. After the child is older than 2.5 years Gary escalates the punishment. A parent is now suppose to inform the child to end the tantrum. After that the parent is to walk away and once the tantrum is over the child should receive a spanking. Parents are instructed to never concede to a child’s demands.
We then move on to the issue of lying. Which the author refers to as “The ultimate family sin” and then cites Psalm 58:3. “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.” Further cementing his point with Proverbs 12:22, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.”
A quick sidebar here. Almost every wrongdoing mentioned in this chapter is “The ultimate ___ sin.” Every misbehavior is portrayed as being the worst thing imaginable and an affront to the family and direct rebellion against the god given leadership of the parents. I grew up in this environment and it’s easy to internalize just how “bad” you really are as a child. Every little step out of line is a horrible sin and shows how wicked and depraved you really are. As a child you constantly hear how wicked and sinful you truly are. And all of your misbehaviors are presented as evidence of that. Even if that’s something as simple as complaining about your chores or taking some crackers from the cupboard.
Back to the author’s instructions on what to do about your lying children. Gary Ezzo states that repeat or habitual offenses of lying are worse than a single lie. He also notes that lying is a worse offense as a child ages. Then he adds in a subjective list in which a parent must evaluate their child’s motives for lying.
- To get attention
- To gain control over an object or relationship
- To get revenge
- To escape responsibility
- To get accepted
- To balance out the parents’ unfairness
- Because of parental example
He never once discusses asking the child or having any conversation about the motive with the child. This is very clearly left up to the parent to decide the child’s motivation. And up to the parent if the child deserves a lesser or more extreme punishment.
Gary Ezzo then moves on to condemn stealing, gossiping, and cheating. Both cheating and gossiping are referred to by Gary Ezzo as “abominations” against god. Stealing is a “Cancer that attacks the family’s immune system.” (p236 GKGW)
We pivot to an multiple point message on how to prevent sibling conflict. With the first point being that children should be taught to resolve their own interpersonal issue. Gary Ezzo makes a vague statement that makes it clear that his own children quickly learned that they would far receive less punishment if they solved their own conflicts without involving Gary or Anne Marie.
The next point is to make a rule of no tattling. As the author feels that tattling is mainly a just a way for a sibling to cause their brother or sister suffering. He also ranks this as one of the worst childhood sins. And one of Gary Ezzo’s solutions to the “crime” of tattling is to give the tattler a spanking every time they report a sibling’s wrongdoing. Also in this section Gary Ezzo wildly states that a parent will be able to tell by the child’s eyes if the child is tattling or presenting a legitimate concern to the parent.
“Evil intent will manifest itself on the child’s face and in his attitude. A parent can see a pure heart in the eyes of the child, and a parent can also see evil imaginations.”p239 Growing Kids God’s Way 5th Ed.
The third point is “Require verbal and physical kindness among the siblings.” (p239) The main point I disagree with Gary Ezzo here is on the “require” part of that statement. As anything required of a child, in this context, also indicates a child will be punished if they fail to meet that requirement. Encourage children to be kind and discourage rude and hurtful behaviors. Children do not need punishment in order to learn how to be kind.
The concluding point is “Teach your children how to love sacrificially.” This is point poorly explained by the author. And John 15:13 is used as an example text “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” My only takeaway was that parents are to encourage this level of devotion and love among their children. Though, this seems unnecessary to use such an exaggerated example of devotion as an idea.
I’ll let the author’s closing words speak for themselves here. And, yes, it is an extremely jarring shift from discussing inter-sibling relationships.