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Punishment Doesn’t Work

Punishment Doesn’t Work

So, I’m cruising down the highway, minding my own business, going around 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. I hear the sirens, look in my rear view mirror, and I realize the highway patrol is not happy with my choice to go a little faster than recommended. The officer pulls me over and I comply with his requests: license, insurance and registration. He proceeds to ask me a very condescending question. “Do you know how fast you were going?” (Of course I do! I have to go that fast to get to my meeting on time!) I say, “Around 65 mph.” “No, actually you were going 71 in a 55 zone.” I’m thinking to myself, “Really? You couldn’t say 70? You had to say 71?” He proceeds to issue me a ticket and warn me of all the dangers of going 71 miles per hour on this highway. He tries to scare me into being “good” and following the rules with a story of a recent fatality on the highway. The story was of a driver going 71 mph. Anyway, he gives me the ticket and says, “I hope you have learned your lesson.” I immediately think, ”Yep, I need to pay more attention to where you guys hide so I can slow down and avoid a ticket!” This officer sparked a thought in my mind… Does punishment work? The ticket does not deter me from ever speeding again. His shaming and attempts to scare me into not speeding has no effect on my choice to speed in the future. In fact, I immediately look for ways to “beat the system” in the future. What if we could come to an understanding? What if we were able to communicate our needs and desires to each other, respectfully, and have it result in collaboration – an understanding of what works for both parties? I’m not exactly how that would look when confronted with an officer after speeding, but we all know that there are times when we explain what’s going on, say an emergency, for example, and officers “get it”. They don’t issue the ticket, but they ask us to make their lives easier by not behaving recklessly. This translates directly to our kids. For me, it feels better to leave out the punishment with kids. Tell me what you need, ask me for what I need, and let’s...

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How My Mom Saved My Life

How My Mom Saved My Life

In the late 70’s and even early 80’s bullying was not in the headlines. It was just part of life, a right of passage, a moment to suck it up or stand up for yourself. I was raised deep in the heart of Texas where tiny body size and Barbie doll cuteness, call it cheerleaderabilty, was every girl’s number one goal. When I grew up, obesity just wasn’t all that common in children or adults. So as a very overweight child, the fat girl in school, things were not always so fun. I moved to a new school in 2nd grade. That’s where this story begins. I was the biggest kid in my class and considered somewhat of an Amazon. I was just abnormally large in both height and weight. At least that’s how I felt and perceived myself. And what I was reminded of by my classmates. Daily. One boy caught on to my insecurity and began his torture sessions (bullying) for next 7 years. Everyday, from the moment I got on the bus, throughout class, at lunch, on the bus ride home, it was the same story: “Heather, Heather, not light as a feather” “Hold on everyone the bus is going down! Heather’s getting on.” “You’re just a fat-ass. No one likes you. You will never have anything.” “Fatty fatty 2 by 4, can’t fit through the bathroom door.” “Haven’t you had enough to eat? You could skip lunch everyday and still be fat.” “Go home to the 3 little pigs house, you big fat pig.” (Oh yeah – side note – my mom and dad were both overweight too.) It went on and on and on and on. Then one day, I’d had enough. This boy called me a whale in line. I decided that moment to take matters in my own hands. I threw him against the lockers and started beating him as hard and as long as I could. We found ourselves in the principle’s office. This was back in Texas when you got “swats” for bad behavior. (For those who don’t know this term, a “swat” is a spanking with a large wooden paddle.) Thank God the Dean of the school had a teenage daughter, who just happened to be my nanny. The Dean stood up for me and my tormentor got 5 swats and a call home. I went back to class....

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