Re: punishment
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 09:06:01 -0700 (MST)
Dear Howard, 
I feel like this topic is getting too far from the cohoL-appropriate 
category, so I'll post the majority of my reply to you off-list. Not to 
prove you wrong, but to illustrate that a well-educated 57 year old 
mother like myself -- also a preschool teacher for 8 years, much of that 
with kids who had few good role models, to put it nicely--  may have very 
different "givens" than you do. I can also say that my spirited 
now-17-yr-old has turned out excellently: knowledgeable, ethical, 
cooperative, and compassionate. 
>1) Your 5-year-old gets mad at someone else's 3-year-old and shoves
>   them hard, causing them to fall down and cry.
I would not punish the 5 yr old as a way of teaching them not to shove. I 
want them to avoid doing so, not out of fear of pain, but out of 
understanding that there are better ways to solve problems. I would first 
give my attention to the injured child, modelling compassion. I'd then be 
sure the 5 yr old was aware of what the result of their action had been, 
and maybe even what it might have been, had it been worse. I'd rewind to 
the situation that precipitated the shoving- was it fear, anger, 
jealousy, a sense of unfairness? I'd hear both children out on what that 
situation was, and get them in agreement, and then talk about other ways 
it could have been resolved, so they'd have a different option in their 
heads when the situation came up again. If there was a great deal of 
upset, I'd wait till they'd calmed down, using a brief "time out" if that 
system was in place. (When my daughter was 5 she'd sometimes be so wild I 
could only drag her into the bedroom and close the door, holding it from 
the other side while she spent her tantrum, but we'd still talk when she 
calmed down.) I would (since you postulate that this is "my" 5 yr old) 
have made some ground rules with my child, with their agreement, over the 
years, and would remind them of the one that says "it's never ok to hurt 
someone - that's not the way we solve problems" and maybe "if you can't 
see how to solve the problem without hurting, ask a grownup for help." 

I'll give you my response to the other situations off list. 

As far as cohousing goes, I think the message here is that we can't 
assume that everyone will logically parent the same way, and need to have 
room for individual parents to do it their own way in their own space, 
and come to some community expectations about a fairly neutral way to 
deal with children in community space. 

At RoseWind, we have some guidelines that include rules we've discussed 
with the kids (no little kids in the CH kitchen unless invited by a 
supervising adult, no using the living room couch as a trampoline), 
suggestions for resolving common problems (toy sharing - would you like 
it when he's done with it? or let's find another one, etc) and 
suggestions for speaking to parents about their children (I have safety 
concerns when I see Joey running among people with plates of hot food). 

I'm also tempted to make comparisons to violent/nonviolent solutions of 
international problems, which come out of mindsets as basic as how to 
solve toy sharing. Everything I Really Needed to Know I Learned in 
Kindergarten. Reason to think hard about what we teach our 
kindergarteners by our example.  

Lynn Nadeau
RoseWind Cohousing, Port Townsend WA
a small town where 500 people showed up for an initial Not In Our Name 
group photo for publication, and about a hundred went three hours to 
Seattle to join the thousands in the street last Saturday; go to and listen to Ramsey Clarke's speech made to the 
200,000 in DC that same day (virtually unreported by the NYT, WSJ, and 
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