Saturday, April 07, 2007

James Dobson On Discipline (And How Your Child Is Like A Dog)

In his book, The Strong Willed Child, James Dobson describes how he disciplined his dog:

"Please don't misunderstand me. Siggie is a member of our family and we love him dearly. And despite his anarchistic nature, I have finally taught him to obey a few simple commands. However, we had some classic battles before he reluctantly yielded to my authority.

"The greatest confrontation occurred a few years ago when I had been in Miami for a three-day conference. I returned to observe that Siggie had become boss of the house while I was gone. But I didn't realize until later that evening just how strongly he felt about his new position as Captain.

"At eleven o'clock that night, I told Siggie to go get into his bed, which is a permanent enclosure in the family room. For six years I had given him that order at the end of each day, and for six years Siggie had obeyed.

"On this occasion, however, he refused to budge. You see, he was in the bathroom, seated comfortably on the furry lid of the toilet seat. That is his favorite spot in the house, because it allows him to bask in the warmth of a nearby electric heater. . . "

"When I told Sigmund to leave his warm seat and go to bed, he flattened his ears and slowly turned his head toward me. He deliberately braced himself by placing one paw on the edge of the furry lid, then hunched his shoulders, raised his lips to reveal the molars on both sides, and uttered his most threatening growl. That was Siggie's way of saying. "Get lost!"

"I had seen this defiant mood before, and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The ONLY way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me 'reason' with Mr. Freud."

"What developed next is impossible to describe. That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt. I am embarrassed by the memory of the entire scene. Inch by inch I moved him toward the family room and his bed. As a final desperate maneuver, Siggie backed into the corner for one last snarling stand. I eventually got him to bed, only because I outweighed him 200 to 12!"

"But this is not a book about the discipline of dogs; there is an important moral to my story that is highly relevant to the world of children. JUST AS SURELY AS A DOG WILL OCCASIONALLY CHALLENGE THE AUTHORITY OF HIS LEADERS, SO WILL A LITTLE CHILD -- ONLY MORE SO." (emphasis Dobson's)

"[i]t is possible to create a fussy, demanding baby by rushing to pick him up every time he utters a whimper or sigh. Infants are fully capable of learning to manipulate their parents through a process called reinforcement, whereby any behavior that produces a pleasant result will tend to recur. Thus, a healthy baby can keep his mother hopping around his nursery twelve hours a day (or night) by simply forcing air past his sandpaper larynx."

"Perhaps this tendency toward self-will is the essence of 'original sin' which has infiltrated the human family. It certainly explains why I place such stress on the proper response to willful defiance during childhood, for that rebellion can plant the seeds of personal disaster."

Do you think, like James Dobson, that the disobedience of children might be due to origninal sin?

Are people basically bad and need to have their wills broken?

Is beating a 12 pound dog with a leather belt a pretty good training technique?

Is it rational to believe that a dog who does not want to go to his bed at 11:00 PM sharp secretly believes he is "captain" of the household?



2 comments:

Kay said...

Do you think, like James Dobson, that the disobedience of children might be due to origninal sin?

No

Are people basically bad and need to have their wills broken?

No

Is beating a 12 pound dog with a leather belt a pretty good training technique?

No

Is it rational to believe that a dog who does not want to go to his bed at 11:00 PM sharp secretly believes he is "captain" of the household?

No

The more I hear about this man, the more that I'm convinced he's not quite sane. Seriously. Sociopathic maybe. He really doesn't seem to have a conscience.

Paul said...

I confess I've been having similar thoughts about Dobson, Kay. I tend to be very cautious about ascribing a mental or emotional disorder to someone I've never met merely on the basis of his or her writings, but that hasn't stopped me from doing some serious wondering in his case.

Does anyone else besides Kay and me think he might be a bit "off"?