Using story telling and personification to teach children empathy is another common technique. In general I find them quite effective and would recommend them unconditionally if there is no problem with the time constraint modern life must be facing. In a culture where a time span of days have not much meaning, I guest all people can sit down, wait for the child to calm itself and then talk and tell stories to teach them. However it is sometimes almost impossible or at least very very hard to wait for a naughty, tantrum throwing child to calm itself down in a modern society. I think of the situation in a supermarket where a mother has to obey certain rules and at the same time has to finish the shopping to make supper on time or in a packed classroom where teachers has only 45 minutes to achieve something or on an airport/airplane.
Certainly, yelling at small children or even spanking them is not optimal and often not very helpful but anger is not the evil per se either. The key is to choose wisely how to act on this particular feeling. Suppressing or even disguising it under a friendly facade is not helpful, often even damaging for one’s mental health and relationships.
I can't remember where from, but I heard a fascinating take on how countries in Europe, with predatory animals and other dangers outside the village, would cultivate myths of things like werewolves, vampires, and other beasts that would kill/maul/bite you. This prevented children from wandering too far.
Meanwhile, in Japan (where there's very few predators to be afraid of), the myths are much more wholesome . There's spirits that wash beans, lick oil, follow you around, and so forth, but few/no myths of the dangerous creatures you'd find documented in Europe.
"Kappa have been used to warn children of the dangers lurking in rivers and lakes, as kappa have been often said to try to lure people to water and pull them in. Even today, signs warning about kappa appear by bodies of water in some Japanese towns and villages."
There are plenty of dangerous mythical characters too in Japan, ghosts, spirits and non-humans creatures, I am not sure where you got the idea that there's less than anywhere else in the world.
Just let's take Slavic folklore of Central/Eastern Europe with creatures like Baba Yaga (forest), Poludnitsa (summer fields, noon time heatstrokes), Rusalka (water), Vodnik (water) lot of fire and swamp daemons - everything which was considered harmful for kids.
These remains are still part of children education mostly with literature, rituals from pagan times and of course grand parents passing these stories.
It was a story about a demon that would hang in trees late at night, and if you were to walk under the tree the demon would drop down and latch onto your shoulders, and then eat you.
There was a mechanic in the mythology that involved telling stories with cliffhanger endings, or guessing the ending - the details are lost to me now.
All I know is that as a young child walking around at night, my pace would quicken when going under large trees. Those solemn rural nights, under the large jackfruit trees in the moonlight, the wind a steady whisper - you could almost get a glimpse of the demon's gleaming teeth in your mind's eye - inspiring a foreboding sort of solitude, a primal fear.
I do miss it at times.
The Japanese have like a pantheon of oni, ayakashi, etc. A lot of old Japanese art is honestly pretty freaky - almost completely opposite to the cute style that permeates Japan's pop culture today.
It's not limited to Vietnam: 58% of Americans believe in Hell. I'd call that widespread superstition.
That said, I'm inclined to distrust Pew's evaluations on this matter, since so many of their surveys are done by phone, and the methodology seem almost certain to cause a disproportionate focus on those people who have a landline and are either without caller id or who just go ahead and answer calls from unknown callers. This was true just a year or two ago, and I'm not really inclined to re-evaluate their methodology. Actual numbers of church attendance don't seem to reflect the trends that Pew finds, and tend to point to even more dramatic declines in observance. Obviously this is biased towards larger cities, but so is the population density so it isn't a total illusion.
The belief that shitty people will get what's coming to them through some external mechanism serves the useful function of allowing people to rationalize not engaging in settling scores and vigilante justice. I expect belief in the existence of hell to persist much longer than other "religious superstitions" (or whatever you want to call them).
I'd say it's a wash. Plenty of people who believe in hell do monstrous things, and plenty of people without this delusion behave as model citizens. Religious people constantly plead that without their belief system everyone would engage in wanton immorality, but this is just the self-reinforcing aspect of the meme.
I mean https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damnation right?
In Grant Morrison's seminal "Doom Patrol" run, he talks about fairy tales as a means of traumatizing children to prepare them for life.
And when children once grow older or are particularly smart, they would mistrust it and everything adults had told them, clearly more damaging than beneficial.
A lot of this has been lost in modern sanitized re-tellings, but lots of traditional culture is rife with double meanings and subtexts. (I was in a trad fusion band, and I remember the moment when our lead singer started to realize this. Much good-natured ribbing was to be had that day and days after.) My take is that the smart ones are meant to realize that these things aren't to be taken literally. Rather, they are meant as cautionary tales and as a sort of map to the maze of inner feelings and impulses within all human beings. 
There is a scene in Larry Niven's The Magic Goes Away where one wizard (Clubfoot) is talking about being one of many young apprentices taken up to a mountaintop by his master. The master wizard enchanted a cloud and let them play bouncing around on it, no warnings, no explanation given. Clubfoot speculated that it might be a sort of implicit test. Any apprentices stupid enough to go back up the mountain and try to jump on an unenchanted cloud would effectively take themselves out of the apprenticeship and the gene pool. This has a lot to do with how I think of traditional stories and myths.
A lot of this has to do with the cultural environment. If a child is surrounded by people who implicitly enforce certain values and have a certain demeanor, the child will tend to pick that up. Inuit children are the way they are because they are in that particular culture. What US culture apparently does to children strikes me as horrifying. One thing I love my wife for, is that I can see that she's wonderfully nurturing, while I also very much see the "Tiger Mom" within her.
( Jordan Peterson's work in this regard is very interesting. Look up his take on Pinnochio.)
Why these stories (and the pebble technique from the article) work is that they enable kids to predict what the consequences of their actions will be. They can't do that without at least being told what they would be, and when they're violent, angry and panicking (ie. during violence) is not the best time to learn.
Violence is mostly the result of losing control. And most parenting strategies boil down to immediately using more and stronger violence to stop whatever behavior parents don't like. This, of course, prevents the kid from exploring that behavior, and of course teaches that an immediate escalation of the violence is the way to go (which is how you very often see kids behave to eachother). You should always let kids fight until one actually gets some small amount of actual physical damage (enough to, say, make them scream, at least), before interfering. If you have to interfere before this point (e.g. involving the eyes), you have to tell them not just not to do it, but what would have happened, and then answer their questions on it. These questions will be very cold and direct ("Why can't I poke out her eyes ? She stole my doll !") and that does NOT mean your kid is evil.
You might say "parents don't use violence". No ? Dragging kids physically away from whatever they're doing. Limiting them to their room. Going to bed without dinner. I'm not saying these are always bad things to do, far from it. In fact after doing what I suggest you do, I think dragging kids away is not necessary, but some measure of punishment should probably still be demanded, AFTER explaining the situation AND answering questions about it.
The problem with the western way of protecting kids before they get into trouble is that this escalation by parental violence (physically preventing the child from doing anything wrong and/or "evil") is that it doesn't work. Sometimes YOU are wrong. Believe it or not, it happens. Sometimes the teacher IS WRONG. Sometimes the police is outright evil (or at least morally questionable). Sometimes multiple parties may be wrong at which point "who's at fault" is probably a stupid question.
(e.g. kid lends toy to kid2, kid2 insults kid, kid demands toy back, a fight ensues, parent intervenes, kid still fights to get toy back, parent's hand hits the table, plates break and chair falls on kid2. Who's at fault ? Technically the insult, then not giving lended toy back, then trying to physically get the toy back and presumably the parent could have been more careful too. All participants are "at fault", BUT I guarantee you not all will be punished)
What you have taught the child is, in that case, to immediately escalate the violence. Guess what ? You're not going to like the result. And of course, this cannot be understood, and what do we do ? Escalate AGAIN.
If your kids fights you, fight back (MEASURED of course, I'm not saying knock them out). If you do this when they're 5 you can keep the fight perfectly under control and they will get the point: they shouldn't fight their parents because it's not an effective strategy to get what they want. Again, questions will probably follow, and they'll really learn something.
A kid should NEVER be taught to react violently to enforce some standard of "justice", but that's exactly what we do. And now you might argue, but justice exists, doesn't it ? One, there's the philosophical point that no, it doesn't. Two, you don't have the information to make correct judgements about what is just or not. And three, just or not, it is more important that the situation remains livable for everyone.
Do we really want to teach people that their innate nature is wrong, and that exposing it will be met with anger and wrath, because it is more important to... keep on going in a rat race to pay rent to landlords and capital owners?
But even if it's true that modern society is at fault, you can't change that alone. Kids still have to be raised in a world that is not fair, it's judgemental and full of selfishness. Your kid still has to navigate that world and understand its rules, even if we might disagree with them.
I agree though that we should be a lot more tolerant of things like kids throwing tantrums in a grocery store. I've been through that, it's not fun. Thankfully, people understood what I was doing when I refused to react to my son's behavior. I got understanding nods instead of anger while he melted down on the floor.
But stopping that behavior quickly is why I have a very well behaved child in the grocery store now.
Ie - If someone raises his/her child like this in our western society it might be conflicting for the child to learn how to behave like this at home, and then spend the majority of their time at school where other children behave completely differently.
I certainly recall being raised to never answer back to your adults. And then I saw other kids answering back to their parents (and getting away with it) and then all that upbringing went out the window.
Your peers never have enough lever on you. The way kids look up to and depend on the love of their main care-giver(s) is irreplaceable.
I'm not talking about superficial things, like swearing, walking, etc.
It is sometimes frightening to realize how much of you is "just acquired". The way you treat people, the way you react to situations, the way you talk to your loved ones when you're angry. Once you realize there would be other ways: shocking.
My wife then snorted and said "says who?". Parenting fail :(
I used to make a lot of emotional decisions based on my gut feelings and intuition, and it took me a great deal of work to get over that and to start thinking about the "optimal course of action" whenever I had important decisions to make. My life has drastically improved, and all of my relationships are more stable and my goals have proved to be more attainable.
But when I try to preach this to people, a lot of them give the same reaction your wife did- and I get annoyed, because I observe them constantly having their feelings hurt, getting frustrated, missing their goals, and feeling stressed out, because they're operating off of anything but "optimal course of action reasoning".
Emotion serves as an indicator, but not as justifiable evidence or information. I still get angry, fearful, heartbroken, elated, etc. but I now spend a great deal of energy trying to make sure that I don't attach my experience of an emotion to a belief that the emotion gives me real, trustworthy information about the true state of the world.
I thought a great deal about this while I was reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, which I highly recommend.
Technically that is information! Like, what if instead of feelings, there was this little light and slot on your chest, and at the appropriate time, the light would flash and a little slip of paper came out saying, "It's time to pay more attention to something and then work it out logically!" Wouldn't that be information?
About this I'm right. Technically right. The best kind of right! (Irony left to he reader. Please interpret in the cheeriest possible fashion.)
Point in case, I have a floundering friend who won't take business advice from me or that of a mutual friend of ours, despite the fact that we both founded and operated successful businesses. Frustrating.
My wife then snorted and said "says who?". Parenting fail :(
Not necessarily. I think that little story is very instructive. A smart child could well synthesize it thus: There is value in intelligent decisions made by dispassionate logic. Not everyone is going to recognize it, though.
Reality is difficult and messy. If we smart people are truly the smart people, then it behooves us to deal with it gracefully and win. If we end up just railing against the unfairness of the universe and all of the idiots around us, what does that really say?
One of my friends once made this observation about Ward Cunningham. He was convinced Ward was one of the smartest men alive, because he came to realize that Ward always managed to learn something, no matter how smart or how stupid the people were he was interacting with.
This is the 'most HN' comment of the day.
Maybe someone should start collecting these gems.
On a serious note - I think this is inherently about managing emotions, responses, triggers etc. 'in the moment'. It's ultimately a social issue, not one which can be driven with data as we would like.
It's driven by data which was processed by our ancestors, even before they were fully sentient. There's no sense in not considering that "data as we would like." It's as much a part of us as anything else.
I meant this in the context of things not being inherently good or bad, its all your perspective, which is under your control.
I was trying to distill everything I have learned from meditation, Buddhism, stoicism... but I'm not great at communicating, and even if I was she isn't ready for some of the concepts.
On one hand, that's a general truism. On the other hand, if she's young enough, it's not that much her fault yet, and the injustice of it might be a little much so soon. On the gripping hand, it's good she ran away crying. It indicates she really understands the magnitude of the situation.
This was one of those times when you should show, not tell.
Even with all the logic in the world, it is very hard for most people to overcome their own biases (because they are not always obvious to oneself). So, not sure if it's a good rule to set.
His wife had a duty as a parent to call BS.
Which makes our current system of isolating children by age group and then leaving them virtually un-attended look somewhat insane.
He went from being a bit lazy and not really trying to walk (he did stand up by holding on to things, and shuffled sideways) nor really say actual words, to trying to say a couple new words, standing up in place and trotting around the house all the time.
I did 2 years in elementary teaching back in uni, one thing that stuck to my mind is that imitation is one of the main learning strategies in childhood, up to high school age where discovering their own individuality takes over a bit.
As for the daycare factor, you could sure think of an equivalent 'beam' in your home. That could've been a chair, a something 'interesting' higher up, say, mommy's voice coming from above - anything!
Babies find the ways. Unless the home environment is devoid of attractions and baby is confined to safety of an infinite carpeted floor surrounded by soundproof glass. That's a sci-fi kind.
How do you figure? Maybe it depends on the person but every interaction I have and have had with people has been framed by the lens of my relationships with family, not my peers.
And then I got aware that it has one of the highest suicide rates worldwide. How comes?
One issue might be that Sri Lankans do not talk about their feelings. The civil war ended 10 years ago, not talking about what happened very likely has bad effects on mental health.
Another issue could be that hiding aggression might not be healthy either. Studies show that hiding aggression is one possible cause for depressions, which might depend on the society you are living in. (I didn't read those studies but heard them from multiple reliable sources) Being aggressive doesn't mean starting to hit somebody, it can be raising your voice and get your opinion across very clearly.
I'm not sure whether a calm and self-controlled Inuit child would have an easy time in a western Kindergarten, school, or workplace.
the people are very calm and nice to each other and to Tourists, it was a pleasure to travel around. It's a very safe place, crime and stealing is almost nonexistent. Disagreements are solved in a quite calm way.
You may have seen a tourist's version of the island, and have been fortunate enough to not encounter violence or theft. Both are very common. People are very quick to anger on the road. Theft and flouting rules are common. Don't get me wrong, we have many good qualities (for example, we're known for being helpful and hospitable), but calmness is not one of them!
I don't think anyone knows everything there is to know about being human. Who does? People often act as if they know everything or at least know better, even when they shouldn't.
But most people have okay coping skills as tragedy was common place for hundreds of thousands of years. Using the same strategies can re-victimize them. Think of PTSD. The problem with PTSD is an inability of the mind to let go--a person is always reliving the moment in terms of stressfulness, if not literal imagery and thoughts. Forcing someone to sit in a room and discuss a tragic experience whose memory of the experience has already, naturally begun to fade into the background is its own tragedy.
That's my $0.02. Maybe I'm just naive.
Welcome to the human condition!
In the list of intentional homicides Sri Lanka indeed ranks higher than I expected, rank 132 of 230: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intention...
About being calm: I agree about the anger on roads. Except for that my impression was a calm and peaceful one -- maybe what you encounter as violent is still OK from my culturally distinct perspective? Do you think there are many 'fights'/arguments where people are shouting in the public, or would such a thing happen at home?
And what is your opinion about the high suicide rate?
There are many fights and tense situations, but more in places like inner city Colombo than in Kandy or Galle.
RE: suicide: hard to say. Our alcohol consumption and suicide stats are both extremely high. But even after living here all my life, it's hard to pin down a theory about why this is. My personal belief is that the average Sri Lankan's belief in Karma and astrological fate results in a defeatist attitude. We often hear the phrase "I/he/she probably did something in a past life to deserve this" in reference to tragedy, hardship or misfortune.
As far as I understand, the best way to deal with anger is never to act on it and distract yourself till it passes.
The thing people talk about as suppressing anger is not actually suppressing. It's more like polishing it, sharpening, watering like a plant, fanning like a flame so it's ready for the time you will act on it. And that's definitely not healthy.
Acting on anger to provide outlet is also bad because it increases probability of getting angry and acting angry in the future.
The best way is actually suppressing anger. Observing, I'm angry. Deciding I'm never gonna act on this anger. So there's no point of holding onto it. Let's do something else till it extinguishes.
You need to acknowledge to yourself that you are angry but only for the purpose of making a decission not to act on it and possibly postpone actions that you being angry might influence adversely.
Talking it through will only increase likelyhood that the memory of being angry will stick with you.
Bottling up your feelings is the other thing I describe where you keep your anger instead of letting it dissolve.
For example, if you are dangerously cut off by someone on the highway and you speed ahead to yell at them, your blood is boiling with the expectation of a confrontation... until you stop at the next light and realize the person is having a seizure and actually needs help! In that moment your new understanding of the situation melts your anger away very very effectively.
In general, if you practice and train your mind to seek understanding of the circumstances surrounding the behavior that's making you angry, your anger will melt.
What I do is I try to keep myself from building larger narrative around it with malicious reckless idiot drivers as the villains.
Then each instance of anger lingers usually for roughly a day and then gets forgotten.
However, it's complicated because these studies generally focus on length of emotional response rather than complex, downstream effects. That is, they assume that the goal is to stop anger state; by that assumption, it's better to adopt a sort of distress tolerance approach than to act on it. But what about long-term effects on relationships and communication? Where does one draw the line? Stonewalling and cutting off communication is a strong predictor of relationship dissolution for example, even relative to intense expressive patterns. So if your response is to always approach your anger robotically and to shut it down, does it then lead to passive aggressive responses, which can be even worse?
There's also an important distinction between anger and aggression, which are different and have different associations empirically, even though people tend to conflate the two. This isn't unreasonable, because I'm not sure at what point you draw the line.
As a parent of a toddler, this article had me thinking a lot, and I'm not sure what I think. Lying to your child, for example, is manipulative. Is it better to express your anger or to lie to them and tell them a monster will bite off their fingers? Of course a child who's cognitively not developed enough to understand will become terrified, because they believe it. But is living in real fear of a disfiguring monster over a minor transgression really less aggressive than simply visibly expressing anger? Or is it just a manipulative aggressive response on the part of the parent?
I really don't know the answers to these types of questions. I wish I did.
There's a good book on this subject called "Difficult Conversations": https://www.amazon.com/Difficult-Conversations-Discuss-What-...
When I am angry I am self aware enough to wait until the chemicals are gone in order to discuss things. I don't think this is unhealthy in any way. In fact, I usually don't like the feeling of anger and look forward with happiness to the calm that will follow. It is interesting that the original source of anger becomes resolved once the chemicals are gone. I found it interesting that the Inuits do the same thing.
You can't see it as a tourist there (at least I couldn't, but I didn't travel to north where most bad stuff happened). But generally this ancient mindset of 'not losing the face' can only lead to misery and desperation down the path, no matter the location. It seems its slowly dying which should be a net gain for societies still harboring it
Same for Cambodia with the Khmer Rouge.
Definetly the case for me. I was always proud of my kindness to others and almost complete inability to act in aggressive way — right until I finally went into therapy because of depression-like symptoms (I was never diagnosed with full-on clinical depression, so I abstain from using this term). Turns out, stopping your impulses because of your desire to be "nice" and please everyone around you is NOT the most emotionally healthy thing you could do! It's certainly good for others, but not for yourself.
So, now, in therapy, I re-learn exactly the things that these inuit children learn to avoid. At 30, I train to act out, to raise my voice, to listen to my emotions of anger and frustration and giving them a legitimate outlet, instead of pushing them down and letting them rot somewhere inside (often breaking out in awful passive-agressive ways that I don't even notice).
I don't think you're learning to express your anger the way a 2 year old impulsively would.
In case of the afore mentioned group of girls: they have a lot of pressure on them from family (basically to be "perfect" for some often arranged'ish marriage).
It’s comparable to Russia in crime statistics. It’s not exactly great, but not bad either. I think almost the entire norther Europe are far superior to Sri Lanka. But I guess it is much better than most of India.
Carl Sagan Dragon fallacy (1) reincarnation may be as real as not existing. Buddhism was mainly a way to solve India caste problem.
(1) Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World
The key is just to try and do the best you can. Try not to worry too much about what other people are doing.
Your parents were likely just as imperfect and ignorant as you are, albeit in their own ways. If they were able to get you to a point where you've got these kinds of concerns doing it yourself, you've probably turned out ok, and your kids will too.
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.
That being said I'd consciously not move to an average US town as I think there's too much fear spread, it doesn't fit my own culture of giving children space/responsibility as early as possible. Depending on community reaction that can be impossible - not just in many parts of the US but also in Southern Europe for example. There tends to be much more support from the wider family there however.
Another local optimum I've seen in Japan where almost everyone is incredibly well behaved but almost no-one learns to think outside the box. Eh. I say choose what you think works and try to choose a community supporting it, within the options you have.
What's "locally" and not globally optimal about working together as a group vs everyone going their own way? The answer isn't obvious, and ultimately it's probably impossible to compare; we can't run A/B tests on planets.
1. almost everyone doesn't think outside the box -> if just a couple of people do it, there can be big breakthroughs once the group has been convinced, because then suddenly everyone pulls on the same string.
2. post WW2 Japan was a different beast from what it is now. I generally find there's quite a generational difference between people growing up after the war and 20-somethings now. not unlike the US, but for different reasons and more intense, they had to rebuild a whole country.
Contrast my experience nearly 60 years ago in a small US town of ~35,000:
Once I had a bicycle I had almost complete freedom of movement. My buddy and I would cycle everywhere we could within about a 20-mile radius, out into the countryside, to the rivers and into the downtown urban area on our own. We also had large forests nearby and would wander afoot into those forests and stay out for half a day with no worry by us or our parents. To get to certain woods, we might have to cross private property and go through wooden fences that some owners had erected, but there was almost always a loose piece of fence "left unrepaired" to pass through (if not, then we climbed over the top). We were good Boy Scouts and always left things as good or better than we found them, and no one ever stopped us or threatened us.
Except other kids! In forests other groups of children sometimes might view us as hostile, perhaps to protect a "fort" (essentially a foxhole and a dirt pile) they had built out in the woods or who felt this was "their territory", and who might rain down clods of dirt upon us with little warning. We would parlay around it and if that didn't work, we were both pretty accurate with dirt clods ourselves and learned to keep moving so as to be difficult targets.
Today I get the impression most US-raised children are restricted to the house, the back yard (even the front yard is too dangerous) and adult-accompanied trips. So sad.
Just to give an idea where I'm from:
* in my home country (one of the highest GDP/capita, so we're not talking poor&rural), children are walking alone or in unaccompanied groups to kindergarden at age 5-6. if parents try and drive them they're often scolded by school authorities, they're supposed to handle it by themselves.
* in Japan (just another example that I know well), children walk to school at age 5-6, accompanied by a 1-3 year older sempai that explicitely takes over the responsibility for younger colleagues. There's also people taking the responsibility for a given street corner at a defined time in the morning, watching out for the youngins a bit (but it's not necessarily their own). Again, people who drive their own are typically scolded by society.
* after school, children in both countries typically go do other activities on their own, like go to football club or in case of Japan do some school club activity. Curfew time is typically before dark or around 5-6pm.
* from time to time there tends to be an accident or case of violence/murder against children that might have been avoided without this culture of letting them run. people are outraged against the person who did it, but culture of self responsibility is not questioned and life goes on. risk is typically 1/1 million or lower (relatively safe drivers, low levels of violence).
No one is scared to let their children out because of violence or murder. That’s silly news media fear mongering unless you live in a bad area.
How close is the kindergarten to your house?
1. Kids are more spread out. A suburban neighborhood is huge and fewer people are having kids. The people that have kids will have fewer of them. For kids to coagulate together for playtime, you need higher density.
2. American roads are fucking deadly. Bigger cars at faster speeds with ever less attentive drivers. Cars are by far the number one killer of children and American voters do fuck all to fix it. If we banned all cars, I'd probably let my 2 year old mostly wander around by himself until dinner.
3. Dual working parents plus shitty workplace policies mean there are just fewer eyes out there. Even in the old days, "Free Range" didn't mean Lord of the Flies. It meant the kids roamed around but there was always an adult nearby, even if not in any official capacity.
A combination of 1, 2, and 3 makes for American parents structuring a kids' life around schleping them to various scheduled events and places. Even when a kid gets older, they've never developed the habits to do it for themselves.
Kids nowadays wait for the school bus with their parents, usually in their parents cars.
Best delivered while the car is still at speed for maximum frustration. (Also best when the mood is already light.)
Small changes in the way you use language help make such mental shifts possible. The positive outcomes make you want to do them more and more. I wish I had learnt this stuff at a younger age though.
My wife constantly reminds me that what I learnt from how to deal with my kid, has made me deal with adults way better. So there is that advantage too :)
I tend to think that as long as I can say to my kid that I am honestly proud of them, I know me and my partner haven't screwed up.
First up, just accepting that I'm not not going to be perfect and there are going to be times when I take the easy way out (like this morning when I just stuck the TV on for them while I got things done). No one is perfect and most kids do fine. Expecting to be perfect is like people who crash out of a diet after one day where they fail to stick to it. Be kind to yourself. Do what you can when you can. Sometimes I will have the time and energy to go all deep and meaningful with my kids, and sometimes it's just a quick "stop hitting your sister or I'm selling your trainset".
Secondly, when I do make the most of the good times, it tends to pay off later. It's like taking the hit when we did sleep training with my youngest. It was hard work for a couple of days, but the end result was totally worth it. Same goes for stuff like this, sometimes you just get a breakthrough when the kid "gets it" and from then on they are just a little easier.
Finally, sometimes I'm going to be grumpy, stressed or tired (probably at the same time), and I'm going to snap, or lose my temper a bit from time to time, like most normal people. But I then make a point of saying "I'm sorry I didn't mean to snap at you, I'm just very tired/stressed". I've found my 4yo is pretty receptive to that, he gets it. It's good for kids to see you owning up to your own mistakes and understanding why. Recognising you've done something wrong, owning it, and apologising is a really important skill for kids. So much of the crap in the world is caused by people just not being prepared to accept when they are wrong and owning their mistakes and failures, but doubling down and digging in.
In short, don't take all these "perfect partent" stories too much to heart, most of them make them seem more straight-forward and perfect than they really are (and there is a smell of "look at the mystical native" about a lot of them that I think clouds the narative). But there are often good things to learn from them. Every kid is different so having a wider set of ideas to try is always great.
Parenting is always a series of trade offs. On one hand maybe I am not teaching him how to self regulate and go to sleep. On the other he gets an extra hour of sleep. The reality is there is probably a better solution that I haven’t thought of but there is only so much time to research and explore each little issue that comes along!
I only recently figured out how to phrase it, you can be "firm" without being "strict". You don't have to be a shouty monster to have limits, boundaries or firm ideas over what is acceptable behaviour. Kids seem to like consistency, they like knowing what's what, that doesn't mean you have to be horrible about it.
We're all making this stuff up as we go along, and every child and situation is different though, so you've got to go with what works for your kids.
My practice is to reflect on when things like this happen. We have one 3yo son but issues do arise where we get upset, and reflecting on them and preparing myself for the next time helps me address what he needs to not do whatever it is that upset me, and for me to not get upset which makes him upset.
I guess it's not so strange now but when I started parenting I figured my parents' approach would be best, like expecting kids to do their work because it's basically their job.
What I didn't expect is how powerful the word "please" is.
Seriously, I'd been trying to get him to do small tasks when he was about two and understanding us, but wouldn't ever, EVER do it. I'd talked with a teacher who mentioned her class listens to her because she asks them politely and other teachers who don't have unruly classes. And so I finally caved and said "...can you please put your dishes in the sink?"
The difference was night and day. Immediately, he picked up his dishes and put them in the sink. Since then, I think we've done an OK job of inviting him to be involved in chores and tasks because anytime he realizes we're working on something the first thing he says is "can I help you?"
Anyway, point is you can learn so much just by paying attention, mindful reflection, careful preparation, and some study mixed in there. And as someone else said, having the humility to acknowledge to your kids' face that you were wrong goes a long way.
Side note: I don't mind that my earlier submission didn't get traction, just happy that the article gets the attention it deserves.
However, I'm curious, because the URLs are completely identical, and I thought HN then treats a submission soon after as an upvote to the earlier submission. Has this changed, or was this new post just out of the time range?
Also, when I submitted it, I was surprised that the title got automatically edited, chopping off the "How". (I submitted it as "How Inuit parents teach kids to control their anger", exactly as this posting, and also the title of the article.) Yet this posting has the original title. Can anyone explain that?
(One phrase that sometimes helps me avoid bad habits is telling myself: "You've been down this road. The consequences won't be good!")
The first one are stories to prevent something. These stories are completely made up, but put fear in the kids to they behave as they should.
The second one is looking from a distance (or a 3rd person) at yourself.
I wonder if religion falls into the first bucket. "Behave or you will go to eternal hell". Lots of people already figured out that it's all made up. What is not clear is that, although made up, it could still have a lot of benefits.
The second technique is probably what meditation and NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) do. Take a step back and look at yourself, your emotions, your behaviors, as an observer.
One for example, is conflict resolution from a past event. You had a conflict with someone, you feel treated unfairly etc.
This exercise lets you go back to that situation in memory, as yourself. Next step is to go back as an observer of yourself, looking at what you felt, etc. Then you are an observer of the whole thing. And finally, you go back as the other person, trying to understand why they acted like that, trying to understand how they felt.
After such a thing, a certain "wrong" situation can suddenly become way better, by understanding the other person and their drives. Understanding what other people feel, stepping in their shoes, can be very beneficial. Stepping "outside" of yourself and observing your feelings can also give a lot of insight.
So that was basically what I was referring to.
Religion... if you believe the tenets of your religion it most likely isn’t understood to be _just_ a made-up story (even if others think it is). As an example, all the Christians I personally know didn’t simply believe a story about some guy named Jesus and thus started living in fear of his judgement. They believe the bible as a historical record, and live in a way that Jesus taught, and in a way that brings glory to Jesus. No fear. In fact, they might get even say the bible helps with something like nlp since it is God who has “stepped back” and looked at human emotions, behaviours, etc. I guess that comparison falls short of how to deal with trauma-induced behaviour.
I wish I could personally meet a cultural Christian (someone who is Christian only because everyone else is), the kind that atheists or anthropologists or secularists point to as their own example of someone following a made-up story, and ask them why they believe it/align their lives to _just_ a story.
Aren't most religious people like this? If you are born in Pakistan, chances are pretty high that you believe in Islam. Cambodia? Probably a Buddhist.
All Christians that I know, are born out of a Christian family. I see culture as the main driver of religion. Or do you expect if you take a Cambodian baby and place them in Pakistan, that they will grow up to be Buddhist?
I'm an atheist, and almost all people around me are atheists. What a coincidence! My wife is from a foreign country. All people around here are dedicated Christians. And guess what, she is also a Christian! What a double coincidence!
If he is following the story closely he wouldn't admit that he thinks it's fake as that's against the rules
I agree with 1. Religion definitely seems to falls into the same bucket. If I were to use my culture's version of the "long john" story, it would feel totally religious to almost everyone else. I don't see this working out in urban society today. If we're in a public or friend's place with kids and we try this kind of stories there, the immediate reaction from everyone would be horror. "What kind of BS are you feeding your kids with! Don't bring any of that near my kids!"
I assume though that this is indeed only a thing that can be solved in interaction, possibly by talking more also. Maybe reading stories helps though. :) I heard in a Podcast that when you read/watch/hear stories till the end - and not stop when it gets emotionally uncomfortable - you won't miss out on the solution of the story.
It's surprising to me that this is being portrayed as some kind of discovery/revelation.
My father would get very frustrated and violently angry when things didn't go according to plan, particularly in the garage when repairing something under time pressure. It took me over a decade living away from that environment to completely shed some of the same behaviors I had picked up just being around it.
Nowadays there's an Isaac Asimov quote I tell myself whenever such situations emerge:
"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent" - and I'll add "are you incompetent?"
The way I read it, discovery is not "behavior is reflection of environment" but how to create a good environment.
I'm reminded of the research for " Becoming a Man" (BAM) small groups of adolescents males get together and share stories about times they were angry. There have been several randomized controlled trials that show this reduces juvenile crime rates. And it's a cheap intervention to run. Seems like it shares characteristics around story telling, self reflection and acting like a grown up.
That worked pretty well and retained surprising effectiveness even after I was absolutely clear that no such thing would happen.
And as some other people on the Internet have pointed out : spanking and physical punishments seem to be a big part of Inuit child rearing . In fact, modern studies about child and adult abuse show concerning figures 
Like anything, you need to practice training yourself at handling anger.
When my kids get angry, I teach them to ask questions. "Why?!!" "Why didn't they let me play with them?" "Why does my sister always get to use my toys?!" "Why does it make me feel this way?!" "What can I do to prevent this in the future?!"
The most understanding you can gain during a confrontation, the better you train your mind to react in that way rather than in our following our instincts. We are, by default, animals, and anger is part of our fight-flight response - but it's something we can reprogram with practice. ...especially if you start with a young malleable mind.
Interesting to note, this is the exact same conclusion Louis Rossman had come to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRwuu0u3UFA
My son had a tremendously difficult time in preschool with his behavior. One of the ways we were taught by the teachers to mitigate this is that we use a method similar to this. When he would bite, kick, or hit, we would greatly overreact in pain or sadness to discourage him from doing it--to teach him that those things hurt people.
That helped. But his behavior continued to be a significant problem despite various professionals' best methods until the pediatrician began treating him for ADHD. Then we had a complete and total 180.
I wonder how these people would deal with a situation like that? Would we have gotten a better outcome and not had to go a medical route?
I am pretty sure this approach would be seen by our society as quite damaging to the children mental development.
Hansel & Gretel is about parents deliberately leaving their kids in the woods, and then a witch imprisons them, which is eventually resolved by throwing her into the fire.
Little Red Riding Hood is about a wolf that eats a little girl's grandmother.
Snow White only gets to meet the seven dwarfs because her mother-in-law has decided to have her killed.
There are many more examples, which is to say - "our" "own" culture's children stories are not necessarily less violent.
It's the difference between reading your kids Smurfs and Bible (if you're Christian). I remember understanding the difference pretty early (and wondering why Bible seems like Smurfs but is treated differently).
When you're 6 it might work, but when you're 10 you just learn to ignore whatever she says cause she's clearly telling you bullshit.
I especially remember grandma telling us not to play on a heap of wood planks (probably because you could fall into a hole and break a leg or sth). Her reason was - a "kuna" (weasel-like animal, pretty harmless for people) lives there and will bite us.
There was no internet yet, and we had no books on kuna, so we imagined it like a huge monster:) Later I learnt what's a kuna and laughed it off, but my younger sister refused to go to my grandma house (like 100m from our house) alone because of the wood planks heap and kuna nearby. For like 4 years :) Despite my parents telling her what's kuna and showing her photos and everything :) My parents were pretty angry with grandma because of that :)
I admit I was a dick about that and told my sister additional stories about kuna as well.
I wonder how much of it is done in a playful tone and how that translates to a lesson rather than raw fear. Or at least fear may not be the primary element at play here.
When a parent says, "If a you walk too close to the water, the monster will put you in his pouch, drag you down to the ocean and adopt you out to another family," the child may partially worry that it is true but suspects that the story is too far out to be believed, especially if the parent tells it in a playful tone. There's an element of fear preventing the child from going too near the ocean, but that element is couched in playfulness.
Fear is not an unhealthy emotion for children. There should be SOME fear that if he runs in the road, he'll get hurt. Or if he climbs somewhere high he may fall. The trick is to not overwhelm the child.
I think everyone is told a bunch of (in the West, admittedly less dramatic) lies during their childhood to prevent you from doing stupid things. But does that really mess you up in a bad way, or is the average child able to handle this and gradually find out the truth while growing up?
Quite friendly for me. The message is clear - you will never see us again.
I had a similar story for my year and a half boy:
"Don't go on car pavement alone. It is dangerous!"
"Cars move fast, hit hard, they may not notice children. If that happened you'll never see us again."
He wants an explanation. It helps to make his own judgment... sometimes unexpected like "Why such dangerous things allowed here?"
I hope someday it would remain only in fairy tales.
Which method that is best to get a child not to run over the road without looking is debatable.
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger"
I am mad jealous of children whose parents made them do outdoor activies. Heck I wish I wasn't even born (can't suffer again neck fracture, unless a gun does the job I live on). I am mad jealous at other rich spoiled kids. Heck I am mad at useless bullshit jobs. Heck I am mad at meaningless cosmological nihilism that we all try to avoid. Heck I am mad for being a nobody without any social life, hobbies and even failing at exams.
I do not know if anger helps you fight your circhmstanced or is just detrimental?
I think that depends on how you react to that anger. Generally there is a core need that is underlying that anger. Once that core need is identified, it may be that the anger turns into a different emotion, and will also start to provide avenues for dealing with that need.
Eg. if the anger is related to failing at exams, on reflection it may be that you determine that this is affecting you because it may affect your future career prospects, ie your need is to secure your financial future. Or perhaps it is due to another need. The underlying emotion would then be perhaps fear or anxiousness (or it may be something else). Anger is the unrealized version of this emotion. Once you have identified the underlying needs and emotions, that will start you on the path to fulfilling those needs.
It follows then teaching/modeling how to calm is so important.
This also however reminds me how it is also the reason why it isn’t bad to “disagree” in front of the kids (Assuming you and your significant other can do so constructively) . It is the idea of showing them how you work through conflict, and resolve it in a meaningful way.
If you don’t show them how the conflicts get resolved, how will they ever learn? More importantly how will they handle their own conflicts in productive way?
I’m not sure how much I like that last part, and whether I feel little kids should be fearing they’ll get decapitated if they forget to wear their hats. That might make them less prone to emotional outbursts as adults, but then again so does a lobotomy and electrotheorepy, that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea.
I do however love the way this article frames parenting and culture and ties inputs to outputs in parenting. I wonder how well it holds up in practice, if you can say measssure the emotional responses of a hundred adults and use that to accurately estimate if they where scolded as children?
- "Don't do this or the police will arrest you".
- "eat you yogurt or that kid over there is going to eat it".
Isn't this fearmongering?
In a society that relies on the group for survival, one can imagine that a child learns pretty quickly that they have to get along or they will perish.
What the story does not tell us is what happens to children with behavioural or psychological issues.
Maybe it's true for Inuit children, but my own kids are certainly not like that. They know all about my buttons and how to push them from early infancy.
The point the article makes is that your response is what teaches them
How do you respond when a kid pushes your button?
It's only a button to push if there is a reaction
Interesting that the presumption of the author is that the timeout is a punishment rather than a way to get the child to "reset" whatever overstimulation is causing a problem.
The article praises the Inuit for a "no scolding, no timeouts" form of child-rearing, talks about how "the culture views scolding — or even speaking to children in an angry voice — as inappropriate...even if the child hits you or bites you, there's no raising your voice" and quotes Inuit elders as saying that "they're upset about something, and you have to figure out what it is". It says that this is why adult Inuit have "an extraordinary ability to control their anger".
I Googled some studies about Inuit to see if I could find anything that didn't fit with this narrative, and came across this article on how Inuit leaders are protesting Canada's anti-child-abuse policy, because they say it is too harsh on traditional Inuit child-rearing practices like spanking. They complain that child protective services are unfairly removing children from Inuit homes, because they don't understand that Inuit tradition permits forms of physical discipline that might not be acceptable in broader Canadian society.
I also found this collection of interviews with Inuit elders where they describe how things were in the traditional old days. When asked about discipline, Elder Tipuula:
"If it was a boy, it was his father’s responsibility to discipline him. If he only wanted to spank him once, then he would only spank him once. He would behave for a while, and if he started to misbehave again, the father could spank him a second time.We women took care of our daughters. Some children reached adulthood without ever needing a spanking. Some of them needed to be spanked, and would thank us when they were older for correcting them. Parents would spank children to make them aware of things they had not been paying attention to. Some children were spanked when they did not deserve it and this was bad for a child’s development. When they realized they did not deserve a spanking, they became angry. Children who deserved to be spanked grew up being thankful for the discipline they received. Children who did not deserve to be spanked grew up to become angry people."
Elder Ilisapi adds:
"Some of us tended to take out our frustration on our children when it was our husband who we were angry at. Even if the child had done nothing wrong, if he made one small mistake, we took out our frustration on him. If children were treated like that,they could be damaged. It was their spouse they were angry at in the first place but they took their frustration out on their child. That is not the way to treat a child. It is not good."
Modern-day studies are downright appalling. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3708004/ is studying Inuit suicides, but finds that 27.5% of the non-suicidal placebo group stated they were abused as children. goo.gl/gX4hFi says that 86% of Canadian Inuit women experience verbal abuse, and 48% experience physical abuse in the first postpartum year. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.3402/ijch.v61i2.17443 finds that 48% of Inuit in Greenland report having been abused, about three times the Western population they compare this with.
(some of these are adult abuse statistics rather than child abuse statistics, but if adult Inuit never get angry or act impulsively, why are they doing all this abusing?)
To be fair, the Inuit are a very diverse population, and maybe some bands are unusually lenient parents and others are unusually strict (but the anthropologist in the article studied in northern Canada, the same region as many of the studies I'm citing). Also, the Inuit have changed a lot recently as they get influenced by European culture (but NPR did their interview with Inuit this year, who talk as if they're describing the present).
I don't want to contradict an anthropologist, but I hope people keep their skepticism glasses on for articles like this one.
The "teaching through storytelling" thing rubs me up the wrong way, too. We yell at our kids if they deserve it, but we do our best never to lie to them.
And of course, any time someone expounds on "the" way to raise or discipline children, you know they're talking through their hat, because children vary wildly in terms of how they behave and what will work with them, even within the same family. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.
"Santa sees all, so behave"
"If you misbehave you go to hell"
"Don't sit too close to the TV or you'll go cross-eyed"
"Masturbating makes you go blind"
"Respect your elders because they are more mature/knowledgeable"
Basically we constantly lie to our children.
How'd your child deal with their friends believing in Santa and them knowing it's a hoax at that early age?
- What do you think, dear?
Followed by discussion of the evidence... if all goes well they learn to use their own judgement and cope with coming independently to their own conclusion in opposition to 99% of their peers...
"A lot of other kids really enjoy the Santa game. So don't spoil it for them. Like when you're playing being a pirate captain you don't like it if another kid says you're too young to be captain or your cardboard pegleg is fake..."
Kids more easily accept games and makebelieve, and happily hop into different games.
(2 kids, 4 3/4 and 2)
So we still do presents from Santa at Christmas, Easter Bunny baskets, and Tooth Fairy money, but they know it's us doing it. So far it still seems to have enough magic of anticipation that they enjoy it.
And let's face it, Santa works pretty well as a cryptid alongside the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny... :)
Fear, induced by having made that mistake and paying the price, or induced by elevating your voice, does seem to work, albeit imperfectly.
So one time I was at the house alone with the kid. I turned my back on him for a couple minutes, he came walking into the living room from the kitchen carrying a butcher knife almost as long as his leg. I yelled at him got that knife away from him. When the mom got home I told her the story and she laughed and said 'oh Damien!' (kid's name was Damien)
When I told my friend later he sort of buried his head in his hands and said something about how hard it was and he was always mean to the kid and having to yell at him because basically he was the only adult in his life that kept him in check. Probably my friend should have found a better way of handling Damien, but on the other hand some situations are more difficult than others.
Four years old can be taught to cut soft vegetables under close supervision. However, if you constantly yell at four years old, four years old will learn to ignore everything except yelling.
Not that occasional yelling harms that kid or something. But, yelling often is more of adult emotional reaction, not a rational reaction to real acute danger.
A 4-year-old is old enough to know what they are and aren't allowed to grab, in terms of common household items.
> However, if you constantly yell at four years old, four years old will learn to ignore everything except yelling.
If you consistently show a four-year-old that only yelling will be followed by physical intervention, then they will learn to ignore everything except yelling. If you consistently show a four-year-old that a quiet "I'm going to count to three... one... TWO..." will be followed by physical intervention, then they will learn to pay attention to that.
The default attitude of most four-year-olds is "make me" and if you let them know what will result in you making them do the thing, they will pay attention.
Not that I never yelled at kids. I did. But this reaction on that situation sound like that.
So, he was probably wrong in how he handled it, but it was quite heartfelt what he said, he was handling it as well as he could, and perhaps that was badly. It was hard for me to second guess him under the circumstance.
The implication is strongly that a group of people, identified by name, has what is generally regarded as a successful way of teaching kids to control their anger. Again, based on the title.
The narrative of the piece builds this up with pieces of evidence all cherry picked to support how successful they are. This post, on the other hand, asks about contradicting evidence.
So, agreed that you can't just assume this parenting style is bad from the contradicting evidence. I question if you can truly assume it is good from the positive evidence. Random walks and all.
Alcoholism is not an Inuit cultural problem because Inuit culture predates the introduction of alcohol by thousands of years.
Unemployment is not cultural because people living off the land are not unemployed.
And hitting kids is something picked up from forcible re-education in Indian Schools where every aspect of the original culture was forbidden by generous use of beatings.
There is a tendency to quickly believe anything that treats our culture as innocent by blaming the victim, to easily believe anything contrary to what "rubs us the wrong way". I believe this is a dangerous fallacy we should resist.
Some people call it cultural genocide.
Basically we tried as hard as we could to "take the indian out of the indian."
They would come into villages, as late as the sixties and take all the children away from their parents and put them in "residential schools" where they were beaten for speaking their language.
Thousands died in these institutions.
So perhaps another way to read it, is from the positive side. That is to say that some native people of Canada can remember their traditions and are attempting to practise them despite a hundred and fifty years of persecution.
This is ridiculous, bordering on racist. Have you ever visited an Inuit community? The economic and social isolation, combined with extreme poverty, would be enough to drive many people to suicide. But. I'm not going to rebut your claims because they're just fallacious in their own right and this thread doesn't need to derail into an analysis of subjugated populations.
Don't you think that, for young males, packing their things and moving to say Canada to fight for a better and less isolating life is a better handling of aggression that staying there until they suicide?
Why the passive route?
BTW, you labeled my post as racist and ridiculous (the last one twice). "This is one of the most ridiculous comments I've ever seen at the top of a HN thread" Those are the 2 most stronger arguments of your response. Why this unnecessary agression on your part?
Most native american populations are experiencing similar high suicide rates, and they don't all share this non-aggression ethos.
I think you're being optimistic. Parent doesn't mention any emotion besides aggression. No line was drawn between men shooting up schools and men not being able to cry, it was totally focused on aggression.
They point out that male-emasculation is leading to shootings, not repression of all emotions - I mean, isn't the expression of crying "emasculating"? I don't see anything but aggression in the parent comment.