Friday, September 19, 2014

Some thoughts on discipline

The current headlines from the worlds of sport have brought our whole culture to a point of questions regarding how discipline our children and how discipline ourselves. Make no mistake, those two concepts are intrinsically related, so it makes sense to view both concepts in this light. The entire reason that an adult may use physical discipline may be wrapped around the idea that that adult has an undisciplined mind.

First, let me start by defining discipline, in my own words. Discipline is practice to become better at an activity. Martial arts are a discipline. Zen meditation is a discipline. Professional sports can be a discipline. To succeed in these areas, one needs to work at them on an almost spiritual plane until they become second nature. Until a body can perform these tasks without thinking. By using the word discipline about our children’s behavior, what we are really teaching is the idealization of a certain behavior.

Idealizing a child’s behavior, like rewarding being a good listener or a kind act, teaches children that this type of behavior is the ideal. Listening to a teacher, being kind to your friends, sharing your toys, working hard until you get an answer to a problem…these are ideal behaviors that we try to instill through discipline. So what happens when a parent uses more physical ways to teach this discipline?

It is not OK to willy-nilly beat on your children. That is in no way what I would ever condone or say. However, there is an aspect to physical discipline that some parents still use effectively, and it does not come out as often as you think. By using physical discipline, you are saying that the behavior your child committed is so far out-of-bounds, there needs to be an immediate physical reaction to counter the out-of-bounds behavior. Where the perpetrators of physical discipline start to abuse their children is when a child’s smallest action becomes worthy of being “disciplined”. There is no learning that can take place when a child is afraid to cross a parent.

I love the word “discipline” because it denotes what you really want to accomplish as a parent. Disciplined behavior is learned, practiced, and perfected behavior. When an adult can behave in a disciplined way, this can teach your child much more about proper social behavior than any butt slap or scream. It is really hard to do this, which is why parenting is a “discipline” like a martial art. You have to constantly practice to get better at it.


Don’t fear, new parents and struggling parents. Everyone goes through their parenting in their own way, and you will find your path. Just remember that if you want to discipline your child, remember what the word actually means. Help them practice the right behaviors; don’t just punish their bad behaviors. Have a disciplined mind and a disciplined approach, and you won’t have to discipline your child as much.  

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Is there a 5 year setback?

So, this year my son Lucas turned 5, as did most of his friends. There is one strange thing that I have noticed, and that is a slight regression in certain behaviors. I expected the continued maturity and ongoing quest of discovery, but I had not expected some temper tantrums more worthy of a 3 year old . Here are some of the things I have noticed.

1. Articulation

Being 5, I guess that Lucas can articulate what he wants and how feels so much better, it leads to further frustration. He can tell me what he wants, and if what he wants is something that as parents we’ve decided he can’t have, here comes the tantrum. I have loved all of his vocabulary giant steps, but this has not helped him outgrow his tantrums yet!

2. Emotional development

In a lot of ways, Lucas has really developed in the right direction. He is a kind boy, albeit a stubborn one. He has a thirst for finding things out, and loves to figure out how things work. Maybe, because he is an only child, he has decided to regress a little bit because he doesn’t have a sibling to play with. I sometimes feel that only children learn how to please adults too quickly, which is a good trait but it may not be emotionally the right time to be learning this trait.

3. Stubbornness

So, Lucas is a very stubborn child, at least at home. He loves to argue over a point and wants to be right. It does make seem almost like a teenager with some of the words he’s used. I am thankful that it seems he is not the only one, which does make me feel better as a parent. I have noticed a lot of Lucas’s classmates and playmates are also a little stubborn right now, even the ones who were normally calmer. This does mean that it is a stage of some sort that they are all going through (I hope).



Is there any help out here for a parent misunderstanding his 5 year old? I can see that in so many ways Lucas growing from that older toddler to the great young boy stage. The sweetness and giggling are awesome, and we share many jokes together. But this stage of backwards regression in some of his behavior is odd and I would love to figure out why…

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Getting a haircut!


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Friday, September 12, 2014

Some real heroes…

luca, respect, september, real, world, trade, center, patriotism


September 11th is a day to never forget for so many reasons, and I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful of a commemoration my son’s school did for the event. Besides the obvious patriotism surrounding this day, it was so refreshing for the school to use this event to highlight two concepts, those being “respect” and what makes a real “hero”.

1. Respect
It was great to listen to 9 year olds deliver poems having to do with how we should all respect each other. The poems were beautiful and the feelings expressed were so beautiful. Most of the children at this school were not alive for the events of 9/11, and so many of them had no concept of what happened. I watched the second plane fly into the World Trade Center with shock after watching the first building burning on the news. I’ve never forgotten that feeling, although I always thought it was very hard to process. To have the kids learning how to respect each other and respect themselves gives new meaning and really gives me hope for the coming generation. There was a real possibility of children being raised in an environment of hate and of prejudice against foreigners, but that was the last thing on these kids’ minds.

2. What makes a real “hero”
My last blog was about how kids need to look up to real heroes.  One need look no further than the NYPD and NY Fire Department, not to mention the countless volunteers around the area that came to help people out of the buildings, so often at the expense of their own lives. I remember the story of the brave adults on the flight that they forced to crash in Pennsylvania, gathering together (knowing they were going to die) to challenge the terrorists and “let’s roll.” We should never forget the sacrifice that so many great Americans made so that more people could survive and live. It is our responsibility to live lives that honor these kinds of sacrifices.
Heroes who sacrifice for the greater good on a regular basis.



It was so refreshing to see a school for young kids truly honor such a somber occasion. There are theories upon theories as root causes and unintended consequences, but when you take a step back and look at what our children are learning from this tragedy, it is enough to make you shed tears of pride in our educators and our young generation.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The myth of "Hero"

reputation, human, role, model, kids, children, pedestal, Luca


Once again, in the news this week, we have another professional athlete damaging his reputation and remaining blissfully unaware how many children grow up idolizing football players in America. Beyond the despicable actions of Ray Rice towards his then-fiancee (and current wife), there are larger issues at play of what we allow our athletes to get away with and what they are punished for.

1. Stop idolizing athletes
So many kids grow up with a professional athlete’s poster in their bedroom, and dream of working hard enough to wind up in that position. While it would be nice for these athletes to recognize the unique position that playing a game for their job and becoming famous, it is still on parents to teach children that athletes are human, flawed people like everyone else. There are no “hero’s” in pro sports; there are human beings, some of which recognize their unique opportunity to a positive influence on the world they live in. Most are just human beings, with flawed behavior and flawed personalities.

2. Violence should never be tolerated
There are a number of professional athletes that are prone to some pretty violent behavior. Those that reach the national media and flat out commit crimes should be shunned, banned from their sports, and forced to suffer the punishment anyone else in society would. There are lines no one should cross, especially with the abuse and horror in the news regarding Ray Rice. The initial punishment handed down by the NFL? A two-game ban? They needed another video of reprehensible behavior in order to act appropriately? What kind of message is the NFL sending to the kids who want to grow up to be football players?

3. Education is key
There are a lot of professional athletes that skate by with limited academic accomplishment to accompany their physical gifts. There are many athletes that simply left college early to make money as fast as possible. This does not take into account those professional athletes who have limited vocabularies and limited educational skills because teachers have been letting them pass just to support their athletic careers throughout their lifetimes. How can we let our kids looks up to sports stars when they turn out so disappointing?


In the end, it is vital that parents and teachers work together to be the hero’s for their children. You cannot count on the pro athletes as someone your kids can look up to. You cannot count on anyone but yourself to teach your kids what is right and wrong. There are no “mythic heroes” anymore, if there ever were…

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