Taking away a child’s reading “privileges”
For a child, is reading a privilege…or something else?
After reading this
I am making a Vulcanian effort to control my emotions as I write this post. Like Mr. Spock, I am using mental discipline to reassert the dominance of my logical processes over my irrational response.
That reaction is one of horror, disgust, even making a mad dash over the cliff towards anger (which is a plunge I very, very rarely take).
What’s causing that?
A parent punishing a “willful” child by taking away reading “privileges”…for a week.
Having raised a child, I understand the frustration that can lead you to try to find another way to influence behavior.
Some people introduce a negative into the child’s environment to try to change something. That could be yelling, for example, or threatening something (sometimes hyperbolic…”Do you want me to turn this car into the oncoming traffic?”).
Another option is to promise something good for good behavior.
A third way is to take something pleasant out of the child’s life.
I remember doing that.
My Significant Other and I agreed that we would never take away our child’s (literal) security blanket (named “Stripes”), and we never did.
One time, though, I took away a favorite videotape (Parachute Express).
Honestly, I don’t even remember if that was effective.
It had a big emotional effect, sure, but I don’t recall if it actually changed the behavior. It wasn’t for a long period of time, and the tape just went into the garage temporarily.
It did change the situational balance in the short term, though, I remember that.
Take away reading?
I would never do that.
Reading is a positive…not only a huge positive for the child in the long run, but a benefit for the adults even in the short run.
What child is misbehaving while reading a book?
Maybe they aren’t participating in the way you want in something (some families have “no reading at the dinner table” policies…of course, not many families eat that way any more, I think), but they aren’t actively doing something wrong.
I think one issue here for me is the question of how fragile is the desire to read? Could you break a child’s habit of reading by doing something like this, or, like the Jurassic Park dinosaurs, will reading find a way to survive?
Many adults would testify…you can be a serious reader, and then get to a situation where you aren’t. Starting up again is like having been a runner, taking a break for two years, and then trying to run a marathon straight off. Reading takes commitment, it takes effort…you need to withdraw to some extent from other things to do it, and there are a lot of temptations.
The parents in this case weren’t, I’m sure, trying to send a message that reading is bad. However, for the child, that association seems apparent to me. “I’ve been bad, I’ve been reading, they are taking away my reading, and now, apparently, I’m good…so I shouldn’t read.”
A child (this is a nine-year old) is going to assume that a parent is trying to protect them…if they remove something from the environment, it must be because it is a negative, not because it is a positive.
Children should always be encouraged to read, not discouraged from it.
That’s true even if they are reading things you think are silly (geeks like me really understand that).
Nothing will empower your child more, or make them more empathetic, in my opinion, than reading.
Okay, I think I’m calmed down at this point…my breathing is back to a normal respiration rate. 😉
I do want to mention that this child was really into reading
(the PW post is written by the child’s bookseller). I love that it is an older series like that that was helping this child build a bright future in and for the world as a reader.
What do you think? Would stopping a child from reading ever be an appropriate action? Can a guardian make a child a reader? Can a guardian break a child from being a reader…and if so, how hard would that be to do? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
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