“Discipline Without Distress” – The Last Chapter!

Well, we did it – we are now on the last chapter of “Discipline Without Distress” by Judy Arnall and ready to move on to our new book, “Hold On To Your Kids:  Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate.  You can order it through Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Hold-Your-Kids-Parents-Matter/dp/0375760288/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1279245565&sr=8-1

Let’s finish this book up!  This last chapter is entitled, “Technology Without Distress: Educate, Not Ban.”   Despite the title of this chapter, the author makes a great case for the fact that babies, toddlers, and school-aged children do best with hands-on learning and have no need for technology in the Early Years and Early Grades (see for yourself on  pages 368-371).

Judy Arnall writes in the beginning of the chapter about how we are currently in a generation gap due to technology.  She equates things such as instant messaging to book discussions thirty years ago, the internet to encyclopedias, books, microfiche thirty years ago.  She notes that “of all the electronic devices designed to make adult and children’s lives easier, computer and video games, as well as instant messaging and the internet, are the major concerns of disciplining and parenting.”

Her first topic to tackle is one of safety on the Internet and how to discuss this with children, how to talk about the fact that what one says in email and on the Internet is permanent (including photographs and video).  I think one could also add that the computer should be in a public place of the house, and that there should be ways to block certain content of the Internet.

In her section regarding “Games, Games, Games….What’s the Difference?” the author equates an adult getting a scrapbook kit or golf clubs and being told you can only scrapbook or  play for one hour on Saturdays.  She writes, “You are probably feeling disappointed, angry, and frustrated at the limitation, especially in spite of this whole new world opened to you.  This is probably how a child feels for the first time she experiences a computer or video game.”

I personally think this makes a great case for introducing technology later rather  than sooner.   I think that small children especially can have a rather “more”-ness about them with rather poor self-control as this is part and parcel of being a child.  Adults can be like this as well, but hopefully an adult can temper the “more” they want and look to themselves for happiness, for creativity.  I am not certain video games provide a helpful teaching tool for that, especially after all my research on boys and how boys can become easily “visually addicted”.  I will refer you to Don and Jeanne Elium’s “Raising A Son” for more regarding this. 

Judy Arnall cites the good things about gaming, including academic benefits, life skill benefits, and socialization benefits.  She talks about the need for moderation and considers if her teenagers are involved in other activities that it is all working out okay, and she advocates for a balanced life.

I personally feel most of the suggestions in this chapter, especially the section on gaming, was aimed more at teenagers (except for the pages 368-371 listed above) than smaller children.  However, one certainly is seeing a big push for computers and games for small children in pre-school and kindergarten and certainly in the elementary school years, at least here in the United States.

Judy Arnall admits she has a “pro-gaming” stance.  For the other side of this argument, I will direct you all to this post from the Alliance For Childhood:  http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/learning-more/articles-on-aspects-of-waldorf-education/fools-gold-a-look-at-children-and-computers.html

Please share with other mothers how you handle media (TV, computers and gaming) in your homes along with the ages of your children.  Help other mothers make informed decisions for their families.

And please do look for the first post in our next book study!

Many blessings,


6 thoughts on ““Discipline Without Distress” – The Last Chapter!

  1. In Malta computers are introduced from preschool (kindergarten) and carry on with it till the end of their scholastic life. I have also seen that preschools are also teaching kids how to write even though by law it should be from grade 1 and I admit I am not quite happy about it. However, being that here homeschooling is against the law I can’t see quite a way out of it apart from not sending my son to preschool. However that raises another problem that when he goes to grade 1 the rest of the kids know how to write apart himself….what are your views on this? I wouldn’t wish to teach him computer either before he is 6-7

  2. Hi. I have an almost 5-year-old son who has had some exposure to DVDs, PBS and movies, and limited exposure to computer games, especially prior to my learning about Waldorf/Steiner and the developmental needs of an under-7. But what I have found based on my experience with him is that I am unable or unwilling to regulate his usage. It seems that if TV/computers are an option, then he will whine and beg for more, more, more. And I will give in particularly when I need to get something done or just want some head space for myself. It really is too easy to use the TV or computer as a babysitter, if it’s an option. Since we have said “no” to TV/computer time, life is so much easier and better for us. Less whining, more creative play, lots more outside time. We still have a family movie night every Friday night where watch the same 3 or 4 DVDs over and over again. But, I am thinking of phasing that out to one or two nights a month and using the other Fridays for games night.

    As far as computers and gaming goes, it is my thinking that we will wait till he is about 9 or 10 depending on where he is developmentally. But, if we have to put him in public school, we’ll be fighting a battle b/c computer games become part of their homework. Unbelievable but true! Let’s hope that we can financially continue to swing homeschooling and/or be closer to a Waldorf school by then!

    • Renee, I think you hit it right on the head…That part of the human personality that has a hard time regulating, that tendency toward over-consumption, over-everything in the Early Years especially. Thank you for sharing your story.
      Many blessings,

  3. I’d have to agree with Renee that once you start a “little” tv/computer/dvd here and there (for us it was only one dvd about whales!!!) it turns into a bit of a battle. More, more, more. It’s like, once that’s an option for the little one, the creativity/figure-out-something-fun-to-do switch in the brain is instantaneously turned off and all they want to do is watch the screen. As a parent, I feel like it’s more of a battle with media outlets. We’ve cut out all tv (our son is 4) and he really only sees mom or dad on a computer once in awhile and *for a specific task* such as checking weather or directions (though going outside and guesstimating by the sky or grabbing an atlas would be awesome, too!). That’s helped a lot with his requests for screen time. Honestly, my husband and I have decided that screen time just isn’t appropriate for a child so young. It’s an open thing, but I’m thinking more like early tween years. Preschool screen time?! Any time we’ve tried it, it’s just felt “wrong” for the little one.

  4. We gave up TV about 3 years ago – my boys are now 8 and 5. It was quite easy for us. I only wish I had done it sooner! I really think they know on some level that this is in their best interest and so accepted it without fuss. My older guy was just beginning to be interested in the computer when we gave up screen time for the kids so that was pretty easy too, but not as easy as TV. These days they may spend a little time looking at Lego or Playmobile online if they go to their Dad’s office or they may see a little TV or watch some video game on Uncle’s i-phone when visiting family but at home they are so busy with their own play that it’s not something they seek out at all. I have definitely noticed though with even a little tiny bit of exposure to the computer they get kind of funky and a little addicted. It’s crazy! But it also helps to really reinforce how right the decision was for our family!

  5. I have a real problem with limiting my time on the computer – I have all sorts of excuses like needing it to do the shopping or needing distraction while nursing etc. My son then sees the laptop and wants to watch videos on it. I have noticed his behaviour is worse when he is watching videos a lot and I would like to remove the option but I need to be in a place myself where I can do that. It is true that children model themselves on us and I really hope to be a better model.

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