The case of the seven year old child, Yamato Tanooka, left in a forest by his parents, was widely covered by the international media. The child was hospitalised after spending six nights alone, sheltering in a hut and drinking water from a tap outside.
Yamato was abandoned by his parents as punishment for throwing stones in the car. His father was already unhappy with the boy for getting in to trouble at school. “I tried to show him that I can be scary when I’m seriously angry” he said.
Shocking stuff but not that surprising when you pause to think of the punitive measures meted out to young children every day in our schools and homes. The parenting style used by Yamato’s parents represented an extreme case of what has become normal in western societies.
Phoney celebrity parenting ‘experts’ like Kathryn Mewes (‘Three Day Nanny’) and Jo Frost (‘Supernanny’) have helped popularise the idea that children need to be punished in order for their behaviour to be corrected.
What this really amounts to is punishment of children until they conform to what adults want. This can produce short-term results, with a child expelled from the classroom and a lesson resuming, or a child sent to their bedroom so that an adult can concentrate on what they are doing.
But any immediate result is offset by detrimental long-term consequences. Popular methods, including time outs, the naughty step and withdrawal of treats give the message that the child is not acceptable as they are. Continue reading