Rabu, 13 November 2013

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

Spanking dilemma



 This article was published with permission from Focus on the Family Malaysia. For more information, please visit www.family.org.my.
Does spanking teach kids to be violent? I have some serious reservations about the appropriateness and effectiveness of this type of discipline.  If we spank our child, will this lead her to assume that violence is acceptable, or that it's okay to hit others or even to hit us back?



Opposition to parental spanking has been growing significantly in elite circles over the past decade or so. Critics are claiming that spanking a child is not only abusive, but that it also promotes youthful violence and contributes to adult dysfunction.  Your question seems to reflect this trend.

So how about it? If you spank your child, are you teaching her that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems or deal with conflicts? Are you running the risk that she will one day apply this lesson with disastrous results in her relationships with other people? Our response is simple: everything depends on your attitude and approach. As we see it, the question is not whether to spank, but how to spank.

To say it another way, you have to know the difference between an appropriate spanking and physical abuse. Unfortunately, this is precisely what many of the studies critical of spanking have failed to do. In fact, the research, upon which these studies are based, commonly includes openly abusive forms of physical punishment, such as kicking, punching, and beating, all under the umbrella of "corporal punishment." No wonder they conclude that this kind of "punishment" is associated with negative outcomes!

What, then, is an "appropriate" spanking? We'd define it in the following terms:

  • It's physically non-injurious.
  • Its sole intent is to modify behavior.
  • It's administered only to the extremities or the buttocks.
  • It's applied methodically rather than impulsively.
  • It's never employed as an expression of anger.
    • It's used selectively and in combination with other forms of discipline (time-outs, restrictions, taking away privileges, etc.).
    • It's regarded as a "last resort" and reserved only for situations involving willful disobedience or defiance of authority.
    • It takes place within the context of a loving parent-child relationship.
    • It's always followed by a "talk" designed to clarify the reasons for the disciplinary action.
    • It is not to be administered to children under eighteen months of age.

Spankings administered in accordance with these specifications have never been shown to be harmful to children in any way.

Meanwhile, research has suggested that childhood aggression may be closely linked with maternal permissiveness and negative criticism. There may even be reason to suppose that this connection is stronger than that between aggression and outright abuse. Further, some studies have indicated that there can actually be an increase in child abuse in homes where appropriate spanking does not occur. The reason? When parents are frustrated by the lack of this effective disciplinary tool, they are sometimes driven to extreme emotional reactions.

Before closing, we should add that it may be dangerous to spank a child for hitting another youngster.  It's also cause for concern when corporal punishment is the only tool in mom and dad's disciplinary toolbox.  In both cases, there's a chance that spanking might communicate an unhealthy message about the value and uses of power (for example, "might makes right").  But it's important to balance this statement with a reminder that power isn't always a bad thing, and that spanking is only one expression of parental power.

There are, in fact, many occasions when the exercise of power and firm control is absolutely essential to effective parenting. Parents have to respond decisively when a toddler refuses to sit in his car seat or when a young child tries to break away from mom and run across a busy street. Here again, the point is not that power is "bad," but that it has to be used judiciously and appropriately.  We should also mention that spankings generally lose their effectiveness as a child enters into and progresses through the primary school years. As alternatives to corporal punishment, parents should experiment with time-outs, the suspension of privileges (such as computer- or TV-time), or the temporary confiscation of a favorite game or toy.

This article was published with permission from Focus on the Family Malaysia. For more information, please visit www.family.org.my.

Chic children


These tots are dressed to the nines.

HE'S been dubbed as the second coming of George Clooney, with his dark Ray Bans, Gucci outfits and Cristiano Ronaldo hairstyle. But Alonso Mateo won't be going on dates or voted 'Sexiest Man Alive' by People Magazine anytime soon.

You see, the devastatingly gorgeous chap whose suave style on Instagram has earned him 59,337 followers – and counting – is only five.

Yes, you read right: five.

His mother, Luisa Fernanda Espinosa, is a freelance fashion stylist who posts her son's pictures and made him the improbable style icon.

In each photo, Mateo – who's always fully kitted out in an endless array of Tom Ford, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry and Alexander Wang – strikes a pose that's worthy of a high-fashion magazine: a hand in pocket, gazing off into the distance, or sometimes staring smugly at the camera lens. Interspersed with these micro fashion shoots are a few pictures taken on the iPhone by Mateo himself.

This so impressed celebrity stylist Ugo Mozie last year that he tweeted "Style icon. Get familiar and take notes" along with pictures of the tiny trendsetter. There are also several Facebook and Instagram accounts dedicated to Mateo's incredible élan.

The kid's got swag....and a pair of orange Hermes shoes.

Jacob's got swag ... and a pair of orange Hermes shoes.

However, the kid is by no means the latest in an Internet lineage of child style icons. These days, a quick search on the world wide web is bound to yield hundreds of snapshots of young 'uns dressed to the nines and even a handful of kids' style blogs – all posted by fashion-savvy parents themselves.

This phenomena, which sees average mums and dads feel their kids need to compete in the fashion world, has been nicknamed by British tabloid The Daily Mail as the "Suri Cruise effect" after Tom Cruise and Kathy Holmes' seven-year-old Burberry-loving kid. In turn, fashion labels are responding with their own line of clothes catered to the little ones – American designer Michael Kors apparently wins the game hands down by creating high heels for little princesses as young as six.

But we're not just talking about the West.

In Malaysia, one tiny tot has been creating a lot of buzz. Jacob – who's also known as Jaco3oy on his Instagram account and blog – may only be nine months going on 10, but has almost 23,000 followers, thanks to his mother Shaine Wong.

A full-time mum who has surprisingly little prior experience in fashion, the 27-year-old Wong started out by sharing pictures of her smartly-dressed newborn early this year, but only with family members and friends. But as Jacob's style repertoire grew, so did his fans.

They oohed and aahed, not just over the infant's toothless grins and chubby cheeks but also his all-too-adorable dress sense, from fashionable onesies to skinny pants and tees by high fashion labels such as Paul Smith, Burberry and Ralph Lauren. But Wong's brand of choice? Little Marc Jacobs.

"I thought it would be fun if I dressed him in lots of Little Marc Jacobs since his name is Jacob," says Wong, who styles the photoshoots by posing her son against a variety of backdrops at their home in Kuala Lumpur.

When not rocking the latest Italian-inspired runway look, Jacob can be spotted flaunting his playful side in themed ensembles. One picture, which featured Jacob dressed as a minion complete with dungarees and geeky glasses, generated much awe – and a sponsorship request from Nikon.

One fan was so impressed that she sent Wong a drawing she made of Jacob.

Meet five-year-old Alonso Mateo, the Instagram star who puts most straight men to shame with his sense of style.

Meet five-year-old Alonso Mateo, the Instagram star who puts some men to shame with his sense of style.

Nice, but necessary?

It's easy to criticise these families for encouraging their children to be materialistic. Wong, however, denies she is doing so.

"He's our first-born," she says. "His father and I like to dress up when we go out, so it doesn't make sense if our child dresses sloppily."

Wong's good friend Sally Quah echoes Wilson's sentiment.

"When you buy a mass-produced label, everyone has the same thing, the same princess dresses," says Quah, who prefers brands such as Burberry, Dior and Kenzo for her daughter.

The 28-year-old financial controller also thinks nothing of spending RM500 and above to dress her eldest child and only daughter, one-year-old Kylie, up in the latest fashion and then posting her pictures on Facebook.

Quality and comfort are her top priority, but on special occasions, style matters most. As such, she gets a tailor to custom-make Kylie's dress to resemble her own.

Having such an eclectic wardrobe doesn't come cheap, but both mothers are more than happy to splurge on their children.

Mom Sally Quah thinks that a little bit of Burberry doesn't hurt, even if it is on her one-year-old.

Sally Quah thinks that a little bit of Burberry doesn't hurt, even if it is on her one-year-old daughter Kylie.

Shaine Wong likes to upload self-styled pictures of her son on Instagram so others can coo over them.

Shaine Wong likes to upload self-styled pictures of her son on Instagram so others can coo over them.

Wong usually pre-purchases Jacob's clothes several months in advance, spending up to a four-digit figure on her son's outfits each month.

The most expensive item in Jacob's closet right now is an orange Hermes shoes that Wong's father-in-law bought while on vacation in Europe. The damage? Over a thousand ringgit.

Of course, having a spouse who possesses a good sense of style and the money to buy it helps – a lot – and Wong and Quah's husbands have both. As successors to the family businesses, both men's paychecks allow the family sufficient funds to support their shared hobby – shopping.

"Whenever we go to malls, Vincent (my husband) spends a lot more on Jacob than I do! And he doesn't have a budget; he just buys what he likes," says the beaming Wong.

Quah, on the other hand, admits that she might have gone overboard with the buying.

"Kylie has a huge closet to herself but she doesn't get the chance to wear all her outfits. I suppose I'll keep them for my second baby," says Quah.

Not all mothers take to social media, however. Masleeza Othman, an investment banker in her 30s, prefers to remain low-key because of the danger it might pose to her children.

But this does not mean her son, nine-year-old Adam, has less swag – the boy doesn't just have a wardrobe, but an entire room to store his clothes.

"I used to dress him up, but he's very much into fashion now. He's much pickier for one and he's into certain brands like Paul Smith and Ralph Lauren," she says.

The family makes an annual jaunt to London and Paris – or "worst-case scenario Singapore" – to shop because Masleeza thinks the choices available in KL's high-end boutiques are extremely limited.

This snap of Jacob generated much awe and a sponsorship request from Nikon.

This mother-of-two says her shopping bills have increased as her children got older.

"There are so many things to buy and their tastes broaden as they get older. They don't just need clothes now, but also accessories," she says.

Masleeza recounts a story of the day she bought a dozen and a half pairs of shoes for her children.

"My husband usually gives me free rein over what to buy for the kids, but he completely freaked out one day when I walked out of a boutique carrying eight pairs of shoes for my boy and ten pairs for my girl. But his anger dissipated when he realised that I can't possibly return them."

Like the other mothers, Masleeza also insists that she isn't spoiling her children.

"At the end of the day, I'd like them to know that dressing according to the occasion is important. I'm also teaching them how to match high street with designer labels. It's much classier than wearing head-to-toe brand names," she says.

But according to Nathan Greenberg in his article Children's Fashion Is Not Important for the Huffington Post, fashion shouldn't even be a priority for kids.

"Of all the things we want our kids to enjoy, looking cool shouldn't be one of them. Kids have so much adventure to experience and so many lessons to learn that plaids and polka dots shouldn't even register on the radar. Let them get paint in their hair, sand in their shoes. Let them make mud pies with their best friends."

The founder of proactivedads.com also adds: "Imagine the time and money you would save if you stopped caring about your toddler's colour combinations and pattern matches. The possibilities are endless and your child will love you for it. Really."

The little ones, meanwhile, seem to have their own say on things.

Made from the softest, finest calfskin leather or not, his Hermes shoes don't seem too impress Jacob too much; the tiny tot twitches restlessly whenever mum tries to put it on.

Meanwhile, Masleeza's five-year-old daughter Aisya prefers her Disney and Hello Kitty princess bags to her posh Gucci one.

But until they grow up, they'll be stuck with their Guccis, Pradas and Burberrys – not a bad prospect, really.

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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