Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Hot saucing, anyone?
From Sisyphus Shrugged
of a story in the Washington Post
, Feeling the Heat
, which is about parents putting hot sauce on their childrens' tongues as a means of discipline. Excerpts:
- Hot sauce adds a kick to salsa, barbeque, falafel and hundreds of other foods. But some parents use it in a different recipe, one they think will yield better-behaved children: They put a drop of the fiery liquid on a child's tongue as punishment for lying, biting, hitting or other offenses.
- The use of hot sauce has been advocated in a popular book, in a magazine for Christian women and on Internet sites.
- Virginia's child protective services agency lists hot saucing among disciplinary tactics it calls "bizarre behaviors." The list includes such methods as forcing a child to kneel on sharp gravel, and locking him in a closet. Pediatricians, psychologists and experts on child care and family life contacted for this story strongly recommend against the practice.
- Lisa Whelchel, actress and author of "Creative Correction: Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday Discipline" (Focus On the Family/Tyndale House), defends the practice. "A correction has to hurt a little," she said. "An effective deterrent has to touch the child in some way. I don't think Tabasco is such a bad thing." Her book suggests a "tiny" bit of hot sauce be used, and offers alternatives such as lemon juice and vinegar. Discipline involves "drawing a line to protect the child," Whelchel said, "and if they cross that line, there will be pain." Whelchel said she believes that disciplinary methods should be left up to parents -- who know their child best, are devoted to the child's well-being and can administer punishment with love.
- [Many people use] the brand name "Tabasco" as a shorthand. Tabasco is the proprietary name of a single brand of sauce, made by the McIlhenny Co. of Avery Island, La. The owners of the company condemn the use of their products for child discipline. In an interview, company president Paul McIlhenny called the practice "strange and scary" and "abusive." Kendrick says parents who use the technique are "at the very least . . . ill-informed." He pointed out that many parents are not aware that hot sauce can burn a child's esophagus and cause the tongue to swell -- a potential choking hazard.
- The hot pepper technique's current popularity is due in part to Whelchel, a former Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer and actress who played the character Blair on the television series "The Facts of Life" in the 1980s. In "Creative Correction," now in its fifth printing, the mother of three provides parents with a variety of tips. For example, she suggests hiding something a child has failed to put away, to teach the lesson that things left out may disappear. She suggests telling a child who refuses to hold your hand while crossing a street, "I can either hold your hand or hold your hair." In addition, Whelchel offers the following: "For lying or other offenses of the tongue, I 'spank' my kids' tongues. I put a tiny drop of hot sauce on the end of my finger and dab it onto my child's tongue. It stings for a while, but it abates. (It's the memory that lingers!)" Whelchel's advice was repeated in an Internet chat in which she participated and then circulated on numerous parenting Web sites and discussion groups. Whelchel -- who is a motivational speaker on home schooling and other parenting topics -- said in an interview that she wrote the book not as a parenting expert, but "from one mom to another."
We took a look at the Customer Reviews
over at Amazon to get a sense of what Lisa Whelchel's book, Creative Correction (pub. Oct 2000), advises. Here is what we found:
- ... she mentions spraying water into the face of a toddler who has a temper tantrum. I'd feel like I was treating my child as a housepet if I did that.
- ... she mentioned things like letting a child go without a meal for failing to do a chore. I do believe strongly that you should never threaten to withhold food from a child, for any reason.
- What kind of sadistic things is Lisa Welchel trying to communicate to parents? How could making a child run thru dog crap teach him to have a more spiritual walk.
- I would like to know how burning your childs favorite possesion will help them in any posative way at all.
- The example with toilet water is to put water from the faucet in one cup and water from the toilet in another. With the child watching, pour the water out and pour some koolaid or juice in each cup. Ask them which cup they want to drink out of. The lesson here is that talking "dirty" has lingering effects.
- [Whelchel uses] Bible verses to tell your children that if they look at bad things ravens will peck out their eyes.
- Lisa Welchel's "correction" ideas are not only frightening, they're mad!! I fail to see how pinching a child's tongue with a clothespin will help that child learn about the love of God, the compassion of Jesus, or the Truth of His Spirit.
- Got a kid who yells in public? Make him hold his tongue--literally, with his fingers.
- At one point her son is honest enough to admit that he's angry at her after she's been away for a long time and plans to then go out again that evening. Does she tell him she can understand why he feels that way? Does she make arrangements to spend time with her kids after a long absence? No, she threatens to beat him if he can't promise he'll "be good" for the babysitter.
- ... can you imagine ... making a child stand still and not move until he's ready for bed?!?
- Using schoolwork and the Bible as forms of punishments is a terrible idea.
- ... absolutely frightening in every way. please spare your children the torture and emotional abuse that this woman's children must suffer from these insane ideas. i can't believe that any normal human could believe that these punishments could be anyway helpful to raising a healthy child. if you must read this book, do it only for the sheer humor of this woman's ludicous ideas...no seriously it is hilarious.
And finally, this Word From The Author:
I have three children, ages 8,9 & 10, including a son diagnosed with ADHD. It was out of sheer desperation that I came up with many of the discipline ideas in this book.
Many of these appear to be borderline torture tactics. inflicting pain without leaving marks, forcing them to remain in a fixed position without moving, withholding food, humiliation, etc.
It's no wonder so many people were more outraged by the media coverage of the iraq prison scandal than they were about the actual torture.
While I am sure that Ms. Welchel thinks she is doing something beneficial, what she is practicing is abusive and sadistic. Reasonable consequences for bad behavior is so much more logical than inflicting pain. Punishment is something quite different from dicipline. All she is teaching is that when someone does not comply with our wishes, we have the right to inflict pain. How sad, not only for her children, but for the children of the poor misguided parents who follow her suggestions.
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Regarding the comment on Lisa Whelchel's book...what a way for the misguided to take everything out of context and turn things around to make someone or a particular method look bad... This book is nothing but wonderful and should definitely not be overlooked!
I am a homeschooling mother--and a former children's protective worker. Those techniques are abusive, plan and simple.
And how can anyone think treating a child like that is Christian?
It is insane!
Abuse...Plain & simple!