When I was a kid, I remember my parents often using the “scare tactic” to make me behave. For instance, if I was naughty, they would threaten to call the police who would then come to take me away and lock me up. Suffice to say, it worked. I usually behaved after that, but only because I was scared of being taken away from my family and being locked up in jail.
As a parent, I’ve never liked using the “scare tactic”. I have never concocted false stories to frighten Gavin into good behaviour. For instance, my parents would never have called the police to take me away, but as a child, I didn’t know that.
The only times when I have frightened Gavin into good behaviour are the times when I have told him the realities. One example was when he ran out of the restaurant and made me chase after him. I’m sure he thought it was a fun game, but when I caught up with him, I reprimanded him severely and told him he could have gotten lost and he might never have been able to see me again. It made him cry. In today’s reality, that was a very real possibility. With news of children getting kidnapped, one can never be too careful.
Recently an incident occurred which effectively resulted in the “scare tactic” being applied to Gavin. We were at The Alpha Angle looking at the golf display in center court. We were ready to go but Gavin kept loitering around and dallying on the putting green. I called for him to come and even tried enticing him with the promise of a hot chocolate from Starbucks to no avail.
Nearby, a man who was manning the display area decided to “help” us get Gavin’s cooperation, so he said, “Don’t play with the golf clubs otherwise you have to stay here overnight with me.” He wasn’t threatening in any way, but what he said was enough to send Gavin howling and running towards us as fast as his little legs could carry him. It took us the rest of the night to reassure Gavin that he was safe from “uncle” and that “uncle” would never be able to take him away from Mummy and Daddy.
That should have been the end of it, but it wasn’t…
Earlier today, we were at the bookshop looking at Thomas books. It was time for dinner but Gavin was refusing to leave. I made the usual customary deal with him of “one more story and then we go” – to which he agreed. After the story, he decided to break the deal. I was bracing myself to haul him out of the bookshop kicking and screaming when hubby piped in, “Okay, you can stay here with the uncle then.”
That’s all it took. One mention of “uncle” and Gavin quickly ran to take my hand and follow me out of the bookshop.
Since then, hubby has used the threat of “uncle” twice with immediate results. Personally, I have never really believed in using the scare tactic, but I have to admit that it is very effective in producing results.
As a parent, what do you think? Is it okay to use the “scare tactic” as a method of discipline? Sometimes, occasionally, or not at all? Perhaps only in certain circumstances when nothing else works? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.