There’s No Such Thing as a Small Soul!

The title of this article may strike you as a contradiction to the name of this website,

Obviously, you’d be absolutely correct to take note of the inconsistency.

And that is what brings us to today’s topic: There are very few absolutes in the realm of childrearing.

Children are capable of great things- does that make their souls any smaller in size than those of adults???

Who is to say that there is no extenuating circumstance where it is appropriate to do something that is generally viewed as deplorable?

Based on specific personalities and relationships, can it be that one particular method of dealing with children is always the best?

For example, corporal punishment is generally viewed as an unsavory method of disciplining children- but who would not give a child a quick slap if it would stop him from running into a street bustling with traffic? (Of course gentler methods are recommended, yet in the heat of a potentially dangerous moment, we may react severely.)

Last week’s post regarding “mood numbers” evoked a number of thought-provoking reactions, and it’s difficult to say any of them are off-target.

The very same parent-child confrontation can have two different “right” ways of being handled- depending on the situation at hand.

The exact same scenario should be dealt with differently in the Smith home up the block versus the Jones household down the street- because of various external factors.

Here’s the main point for today:

Just because you read or hear of a terrific piece of advice, does not mean that it ought to be implemented without thought!

No article, book, website, (not even this one!) or session with a therapist, can adequately cover all of nuances in your personal life.

Keep on reading, listening, and learning, for all that knowledge will help you to make educated decisions. We are not robots, and children are not born with directions. It is a combination of love, knowledge, paternal instinct, and conscious contemplation that allow us to be manifest our true potential as excellent parents for the next generation.

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  1. Suzanne says:

    This is another wonderful perspective about raising children.

    I’m a reader, and I’ve read virtually every parenting book that has ever been published, and I can’t agree more.

    Because my own childhood was pretty dysfunctional, I turned to books and professionals for the answers, in my quest to avoid my parents’ mistakes.

    It’s so true- there is no magic formula or one key that unlocks all of the problems. Parenting really means analyzing again and again all the factors and putting them all together with your own point of view. Just because my neighbor lets her son do X, does not mean it’s a good idea for my son, and just because I let my 8-year-old do something when he was 6, does not mean I’m going to allow my 6-year-old to do so now.

  2. I totally aggree! I have found that went I focus on “method” instead of looking at the entire situation I often miss the best oppotutnities to teach and guide my children. One situtation may be my child is acting out because they are frustrated about something and not able to communicate their feelings. The same behavior may be a selfish attempt at getting what they want. By looking at the entire situtation I can teach, train and meet the real need at the momoent. Thanks for your thoughts today.

  3. I love the approach that Raising Small Souls has taken. I teach in Special Education. It is so typical for “A child to be labeled”. I fight every day to change those views. Every child is important and deserves the chance to succeed. They all have talents and may learn differently or at a slower pace but, they still can learn and succeed if the time is taken to listen to them. Children are our future and we have to be patient and listen even if they are not verbal communicators they still are trying in some form to tell you what their needs and wants are (through behavior, tantrums, or verbal communication). I am also a Mother of a child with Autism that had a hard time commnicating to us. We taught him sign language. This opened new worlds to him as well as to us. Please be patient and listen. Thank you Raising Small Souls for all of your wonderful parent support.

  4. It still should go without saying that hitting is not a method of raising children.

  5. There is a BIG difference between hitting and spanking. If used correctly, with love, and restraint, spanking can be a strong tool in raising children. Hitting has no control, and is done in anger and selfishness. We’ve used corporal punishment, but rarely, if ever have to any more, since we’ve set our boundries, and have used a controlled approached to corporal punishment. It’s not something that is not thought out, or a ‘heat of the moment’ thing. It is a consequence, and the child has a choice, to do learn to control their own behavior and self control, or deal with consequences. Not ALL situations have called for corporal punishement, but there are cases where it makes the most sense.

  6. Hello Ellen, Another at home business that your readers may be interested in is Xocai chocolate, called the Healthy Chocolate.
    I just signed up with MXI to be an independent distributor and this product is written up in loads of medical articles if people would like to research it.
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    Thanks for all your time and for what you do to inform parents.

  7. I’m just curious as to Kim’s response in saying that
    “Not ALL situations have called for corporal punishement, but there are cases where it makes the most sense.”

    What makes sense about it? What are you trying to teach your children? It makes sense if you’re trying to teach your children that hitting is OK. Aside from that, I can’t see any situation in which corporal punishment, planned or unplanned, (and yes, there is a difference between punishments & consequences) can become a natural or logical consequence of behavior. A choice is more like when “Mom asks me to turn off the TV and I don’t listen, no more TV for the rest of the week”. A smack is more along the lines of “I didn’t do what Mom told me to do, so she’s gonna hit me. I better not make any more mistakes, because what will she do to me if I really screw up?” Wouldn’t you prefer that your children listen to you out of respect than fear? If that’s what you want, you have to treat them with respect. Hitting is NEVER respectful.
    ‘Nuff said.

  8. hi,
    it is really great reading your articals being a preschool teacher i know how amazing these souls can be.they can think so differently. i always say that they are different when they are small but unfortunately in this rat race we make them fallow our footsteps. you are absolutely right when you say there is no such thing as a small soul.

  9. Cassandra K. says:

    Love the comment about there being no instruction manual for our children! I often hear “Just tell me what to do!” from the parents I meet on a daily basis. If only it was that easy…. Then again, would be as much fun and as rewarding if it was that easy? Most of the time I am awestruck by the incredible unconditional love and curiosity I feel coming from the “small souls” I meet. Making me think that in fact in most cases their “souls” are bigger than those of many of the adults I know!

  10. With respect to Laurie’s entry, it is interesting that she stresses respectfulness, with which I agree, yet ends with the phrase, “‘Nuff said.” That is not a very respectful closure; in fact, it implies that her comment is the last word and no one else need discuss the topic further. It reads like the entry was primarily intended to rebuke another reader, which doesn’t seem to align with her emphasis on respect.

  11. I applaud Sherri’s observation and willingness to express her opinion about my entry above, regarding respectful consequences. She is correct in that it was intended as a rebuke, not against the reader, but against the method. I feel very strongly that there is no excuse for intentional violence such as spanking. Ellen’s example of preventing or removing a child from a dangerous situation, which even she says is not a recommended method, is really the only time that I feel (emphasis on the word “I”) there is anything excusable about being physical with a child. Even in this situation, however, there is a difference between grabbing a child roughly as they run into a street and slapping them once they are safe from harm as a punishment. Wasn’t the fear that they encountered as a result of the experience enough of a lesson? If you slap the child to “drive the idea home” do you think they will remember the danger of the car coming at them, or will they remember the physical & emotional pain of their parent slapping them after they’ve had such a huge scare instead of having someone to run to for comfort? I want my child to know that running in the street is dangerous because they could get hit by a car, and that I treasure them enough to reinforce how much I appreciate that they didn’t get killed this time, and this is why Mommy makes the rule of no running in the street. What they walk away with is the fear of the experience, the natural consequence, and the reinforcement of the love that goes into setting the rules for which there are consequences.

    I do respect that everybody has their own methods of childrearing, and that every child requires different kinds and intensities of parental guidence and interventions. There is no such thing as a recipe for intervention or education. I do NOT respect those who think that their children’s souls, opinions, or needs are any less important than their own, and I don’t respect methods of punishment that have nothing to do with the violation/mistake that occurred in the first place. When someone doesn’t pay the electric bill, the electric company doesn’t come after you and physically assault you, they turn off your electricity. That is a natural consequence. If you don’t study for your driver’s license exam and fail, nobody will disable your car or intentionally cause an accident so that you will learn your lesson. They just don’t give you your license. That is a natural consequence. If you then drive without a license and get arrested, that is a natural consequence.

    If I am coming across strongly, it is because I feel very strongly about this subject. This is why I subscribe to raising small souls. I feel that treating a child’s heart and soul with respect and reverence is the only way that a child will maintain the natural respect and reverence that they are born with, both for themselves and others. A thousand dollar bill isn’t worth any less than a thousand one dollar bills, just one takes up more physical space than the other.

    With regards to the “’nuff said”, my intention was that I had said enough (or so I thought) to get my point across. I think that this is a very important subject to have a dialogue about, as that is the only way that people can learn the difference between cause and effect consequences and punishment, of which the definition is “a penalty imposed for wrongdoing” and “Rough Handling, Mistreatment” according to the dictionary.

    I apologize if I have offended anybody, but I will not apologize for my opinion about corporal punishment. I welcome responses, differing opinions, arguements, because it means to me that people have truly read and are THINKING about the topic!

  12. Running/letting go of my hand in the parking lot is exactly a time where I have spanked my 2 year old. I DO want him to know how serious this is, which is why I have reserved the immediate reminder of a spanking for this situation.

    Laurie asks, “If you slap the child to drive the idea home, do you think they will remember the danger of the car coming at them, or will they remember the physical & emotional pain of their parent slapping them…?” The problem is that I am not going to wait until there is actually a car zooming toward him, so he can remember that “fear.” At this age, he just does not see the danger, so I guess a spanking shows him that yes, you can get hurt when you run in a parking lot or street.

    I rarely spank and am certainly a believer in both natural and logical consequences. Yet there are plenty of cases in the real world where the punishment and violation aren’t really related. I drive too fast and it costs me hundreds of dollars? I don’t plan what to cook for dinner, so I get to order takeout instead? I have more kids than I can afford, so the government provides me with free food, health insurance, etc.?

  13. Bob Lewis says:

    I am sorry , Kristin, there is never any need to hit/spank a child. It does nothing but teach the child that hitting is an appropriate method of discipline to be used when they become a parent. We basically parent as we were parented unless we can become metacognitive enough to see ourselves outside ourselves and learn why we do what we do.

    In the ’60s I was spanked at home, and I was spanked once at school. It did nothing for me. It taught me no lessons. I did not becoem a better person. I do remember thinking, though, after one spanking when I was young that my mother hated me. And it was that memory that led me to realize while I was spnking my first child some 25 years later that vioence against a person I loved was useless and worse, damaging.

    A few weeks ago Ellen wrote an article about being more reflective and less reactive as a parent. This advice translates so well to my classroom as well. Hitting/spanking is reactive. It is done out of an emotional response to the moment, and I can understand the human need to release that tension, especially if your child nearly killed themselves in a parking lot.

    But really, if your child ran out into the parking lot and was nearly injured — it’s your fault for not realizing that, guess what, kids run out into parking lots. Which would you think is the better parenting style: taking parental precautions to teach them to be careful before an accident happens, or hitting them after an acciedent almost happened?

    As reflective parents and techers, we need to realize that our children/students don’t know everything we know nor are their brains developed liked ours. Hitting them will NOT teach them to be honest, to be responsible, to be respectful, to be who we want them to be. It merely teaches them to hit their children when they are older; it teaches them to hit other children at school; it teaches them to hit their siblings; it teaches them to react. Hitting does NOT teach them to think, prepare, evaluate, communicate, or express their emotions effectively.

    Hitting our children only perpetuates a violent spiral.

    Respectfully submitted.

  14. Cathie Wheeler says:

    As a mother to five children and 14 grandchildren, I am certain that each of us has a definite personality and also a mission in life to accomplish. Each soul is worth the whole earth and I am also certain that the Father of us all takes a personal interest in each of us and will give us as parents, grandparents, teachers and loving friends His guidance if we will listen to our inner voice that comes as a still small prompting about what to do for each child. None of us is perfect in caring for these precious children, but with His help we can each reach inside ourselves and do better every day. I appreciate all the comments and love the thoughts that come from the website. Keep up the good work.

  15. Thank you to Laurie for her response. I was glad to read it.

  16. THE SPANKING THAT SAVED A LIFE I know I’m late with this response, but I just had to reply. I have three children and have never “spanked” or slapped (etc.) any of them. I’ve found other discpline methods to be effctive. However, just as situations are different, children are very different. A neighbor’s child brings to mind this fact. When this child was 3 years old, she was totally defiant. The parents tried to reason, bribe, talk, scold, punish. None of this worked. This child once ran into a neighbor’s inground pool and jumped in (didn’t know how to swim!) Thankfully she was rescued by the homeowner. This same child constantly ran into the street after constantly being corrected, reminded, scolded. Finally one day, after running into the street yet again, her father slapped her bottom. She cried…and she never again ran into the street. The whole neighborhood breathed a sigh of relief! Of course I don’t believe in beating or abusing and never really “believed” in spanking of any kind … until I met this little child. It was the last-and necessary-straw!

  17. It still should go without saying that hitting is not a method of raising children.