Wednesday, 19 August 2009


It might be a little too early to discuss punishment now since Isaac is only coming to 20 months old. Hence this is not really about him. What brought about this topic was an episode that we witnessed during one of our dinners at Vivo City.

Those of you who read this blog will probably know that due to the space Vivo is probably one of our favourite haunt these days. We usually like to go to the Asian Kitchen at the basement for dinner and we always reserve the table just outside the restaurant so that we have more space for the high chair and prams.

Anyway it was during one of our usual dinners there that this happened. Just when we were about done a family of 4 came and sat behind us. It was a pair of parents, a grandmother and a young girl that cannot be more than 6 or 7 years old.

When we got up to leave both Ani and I witnessed the mother pinning the girl's hand down on the table while hammering it with a tumbler. The mother hit her for about 5 or 6 times and all the while the girl was wailing. I could see that her hand was all red from the torture. I believe if the mum were to be the one at the receiving end she too will be crying let alone her poor child. Frankly I do not know what the little girl did to deserve such severe punishment but then again I do not think any child would have done anything to deserve such treatment. It was so bad that although the Mrs heard the commotion she dared not turn around to look.

Maybe some of you will feel that it is probably easy for me to blog here and criticise them but even though I am close to losing my patience with my 3 kids sometimes, I know for a fact that I will not resort to such punishment. I believe for a parent to mete out such punishment the problem will mostly lie with the adult rather than the child. Perhaps the adult need to learn some anger management.

Having said that I am actually the type that believe in "spare the rod and spoil the child" philosophy but this does not mean that I will bring a cane along wherever we go. By the way we have actually seen parents bringing canes out with them in shopping malls before. I do not believe the Western way of only grounding the child and not spanking them at all will work although I have not decided on how I’ll discipline my kids yet.

Another incident we saw was just as dramatic if not more. We were driving along Commonwealth Ave West when we saw a car stopped outside one of the main gates outside the Singapore Polytechnic. Next thing we saw was the driver, presumably the father, came out and open the rear passenger door and took out a bag, some books and other stuffs and started hurling them over the gate. There was a little girl crying and trying to stop him. Getting very concerned the Mrs asked me to go around and swing by again and if things looked to be out of hand she was all ready to call the police. When we came back there was another car stopped behind the original one and a man was seen trying to calm the driver down while the mum and the girl tried to retrieve the bag and stuffs. This man definitely needs help and I hope for his family's sake he is seeking treatment.

I heard on radio once that the Flying Dutchman does not believe in the good cop bad cop routine because both parents should be able to dish out the punishment there and then when the child misbehaved instead of having to wait till the disciplinarian comes back from work. By then the impact would not have been the same. I tend to agree with that. However at this point in time I do not think I am capable of punishing Isaac for all his naughty little habits. I can't help but smile back whenever he flashes his cheeky look. The Mrs is much better in this department. She will definitely have to be the bad cop for now.

I keep hearing about the Terrible Twos and Isaac is months away from turning two so maybe I should start getting help on the kind of punishment that a 2 year old can comprehend. These days if Isaac does not get his way he will cry and lie on the floor but thankfully he has not done so in public. Super Nanny will recommend me to identify a corner in the house as a punishment corner where the child cannot move out of for a give period of time but I honestly don't think Isaac will understand that yet.

So all you experienced parents, how do you punish your 2 year old and ensure that they understand what they are punished for at the same time?


alliet said...

wah, so freaking drama? aiyoh, if i were to be at the restaurant, i dunno if i would have spoken up man...

interesting topic though 'cos mostly i also tend to agree with FD's parenting style though surprisingly, even with my bad temper, i do not beat buffy and cookie. in this aspect, i am the good cop and chris is the bad one. i wonder if this transcends to cate 'cos chris seems to be a lot more the disciplinarian than i am 'cos my rationale would always be "she is only XX months old; she does not quite understand"...

on the topic of terrible 2, i wonder if truly ALL kids go thru it; maybe there are some who literally sail thru it just like the teething process? but i did hear that how u discipline them at the terrible 2 age literally would affect / stay with them so the effort needed at this age is great.

cate is the same way as well; when things dun go her away or when we take away some stuff from her, she cries and screams and cries. for her case, i read that 'cos at that age, they understand the meaning of object permanence hence, they will cry if something were to be taken away. i hv yet to know how to deal with this issue except to entice her with an alternative and take away the original object.

as for fat's laying on the floor... of my GF's kids laid on the area outside Tangs on a Sunday afternoon and was wailing and screaming away 'cos things din go his way. to give my friend credit; she moved out of the way (so she can take a breather and not smack him i suppose) and sat there watching him. when he had enuff and he realised that everyone was watching him, he stopped. so, maybe this time-out thing does work... i dunno man, am looking to you to see what works since fat is a good year ahead of cate... :p

sock peng(fattysock) said...


that 2 incidents u mention is really drama.

I share with u what I see from my house carpark.
I stayed at the 9th storey and 1 morning i heard a commotion and look out of the window.
I saw the father using his finger and pointing at his daughter's(in primary school) head and scold "u idoit, u idoit, u idoit"
so loud and clear. while his 2 other kids look on.
i do not agree with this way of disciplin.

i agree that kids will not understand the concept of time out yet although some parents really stand by them.

as for me, my boy is going be to 2yo on 1st Sept.

so far the only pushiment i have done to him is to spank his thigh but that has little effects.

he thought i am playing with him and smile at me *faintz*.

i would also love to read what the other readers do and learn something

Nicole said...

Well, I have to really say, the kid don't have to be even 2 to go through the terrible 2 stage!

Ms Cleo have since, many months ago, been telling me ' I don't want you', ' No, I don't want!' , "go away", ' No, cannot find the cane!"

And when she gets really naughty, the daddy will threaten her with a cane. There's once cleo hit claire with something(a toy, I think), then claire was crying(cause it's painful), then the daddy asked cleo to apologise. She refused and went ' NO, I DON"T WANT!!!!' then turned her face away and pouted! Then the daddy was mad and caned her on her thigh. She cried and we ignored her, as we want her to know she's in the wrong. Few minutes later, she stopped crying, so did claire. And they started playing again, then claire asked cleo ' mei, you made jie jie cry, please apologise'. Then cleo went' sorry, jie jie, i love you!" Just this incident told us that kids really ' 吃软不吃硬'. So really have to talk to them. You might think they won't understand at such young age, but you'll be surprised. They can gauge/tell from your tone/ reaction/expression. And they will feel the vibes and react accordingly.

So sometimes, while we are really angry, and I meant really really angry, it's best to just walk away and take a breather, rather than give really harsh punishement. The kid will probabaly remember it in a long time to come if it's really they are really traumatised and the parent will probably regret it later. The guilt of punishing the child when you could have have just explain to them or just ignore them. Of course, it's easier said than done, but hammering your child's own hand?? My goodness!!!!

Having said that, even though claire is already 4 years old, we don't really have to punish her much as she's a overly very sensible and good girl.. Cleo, on the other hand....HAHAHAHA! I think I'll have to re-read supernanny again, since I definitely will have to apply those theories!!!!

Wow, this gotta be the longest comment I have commented yet??? LOL

happyhour said...

Wow drama rama le… if I were there on the 1st incident, my elder girl sure ask question out loud “mummy why the mummy like that”… eh wonder how I would answer her

Actually I am the bad cop because my temper is super “shorter” compared to my hb. So whenever my girls make me mad, especially on weekends when I am “confined” to them ALL ALONE, I will start to shout at them… I don’t beat them but I will shout… really shout and count 1, 2, 3 for my elder girl to stop her nonsense.
My elder girl knows when I start counting, I mean business and she will stop her nonsense. But when we are fooling around, she will mimic me and say to my younger girl “Jie Jie angry ah, I count to three you better stop ah” *faint* so not sure if my method is good or bad

Then my hb is the “violent” one… he will smack the girls butt/thighs but ah I think my 2 girls the skin super thick one… hit already no cry…the elder one will cry a bit but the younger one just look very upset and run away… like nothing happen but you can see the hand print there lor!! Hehe so realize beat no use… just verbal scolding lor…
But since I am the disciplinary at home, so hb is like the “savoir” to the kids… I scold they run to him for shelter…

We always believe that must have one good cop and one bad cop whenever we are disciplining the kids so that they can always run to the good cop for help and the good cop will try to neutralize the situation.

Have fun…everyday is a learning experience

Happy FamiLEE said...

For our case, I am the angel and the husband is the devil when it comes to punishing Cheyanne.

I dun cane her but i do punish her. The mode of punishment which work really well for Cheyanne is to ask her to "FACE THE WALL". We have a piece of "punishment wall" in the house where she know that if she dun behave, she will have to "face it".

I cannot bring myself to beat my gal. To Cheyanne, I am her Best Friend and the one she loved the MOST! heehee... BUT! even though the husband will smack her backside sometimes, She still love her daddy no matter what. I will ask her privately if she is angry with her daddy, and she will tell me no cos she is naughty so daddy beat her. Upon hearing that makes my heart sink... she know that the daddy punish her for her own good.

Another funny thing to share, the daddy will apologise to the daughter after some cool down period ( 15-30 mins) The daddy will explain to her why he beat/scold her and let her understand the "good intention" for punishing her....LOL! In the end, the daddy and daughter will hug each other tightly and become "good friend" again.

I dunno if the husband way of teaching is right, cos I think the gal will not be "scare" of him in future when she is bigger BUT on the other hand, i think it is good when after he punish the gal, he will talk/explain later why he did that after a while. Contradicting I know... hahaha

I think there are no right or wrong methods when it comes to disciplining the child, just dun overdo it (i mean child-abuse)!

JS said...

Ermmm, reckon there're many school of thoughts when it comes to punishment.

We do not hv any specific good or bad cop @home. Both hubby and myself play both the good & bad cop as the incidents call for. If I happened to catch any of my children misbehaving, I'd be the bad cop there & then, & vice versa. And it's a consensus that whoever that mete out the punishment will round up to be the good cop. For e.g. if I were the one who caught the act and punished, I'd round up to explain to the child what he's done wrong and making sure he understands. And then we'd hug and kiss each other to understand the concept of 'apologising & forgiving'. The child is not supposed to go to daddy for comfort if I'm the one who punishes. So far, it seems to work. Cuz my boy will go to the 'punisher' for comfort & forgiveness 'automatically'. He doesnt seek 'refuge' from the other parent; and if he does (at times), it's a consensus we made that we'd guide the child back to the 'punisher'.

As for the punishing 'methods', we're also more for the 'spare the rod, spoil the child' philosophy. But it's always in a few degrees. First, we'd talk/explain firmly to see if he stops the act. If he doesnt, we'd give another chance or 2 (usu 3 chances in all). If still doesn't, physical punishment is usually wooden ruler; cane is normally reserved for more 'severe misbehaviour' (like causing danger to people around or himself, or repeated naughty-acts of which he's been punished of prior). Usually, we'd 'hit' on the palm.

We constantly remind ourselves not to over-use the cane, so that when the child gets it, he knows it's because he'd done something very wrong. As for wooden ruler, it's to make him understand it's for his 'run of the mill' acts. Even then, we also try not to resort to that too often.

And most importantly, after each punhishment, we make sure the kid knows why he's being punished. And despite the noti acts, we still love them. So, we'd hug, kiss and say 'I Love You' at the end of each physical punishment.

~looks like another long comment :p~

A Husband's Voice said...


I was actually contemplating if I should voice out but they stopped before I could react. Sometimes I believe if we were to act out then the kid may suffer more for making the parents "lose face"

I am like you in this way, always defending Isaac for being a baby still so doesn't quite understand yet.

I believe you may be right about not all kids go through the terrible twos but based on what I have witnessed it is indeed quite scary. A lot of patience is required indeed.

I am also distracting Isaac with other stuffs and that works 99% of the time. But I always wonder if this is the correct method or should we simply stand firm and let him cry himself out.

I don't think I can be like your friend and let Isaac cry his heart out at such a crowded place. Besides not being able to handle the stares from the passersby, I do not want us to be a nuisance to the public too.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Sock Peng,

Ya both these incidents are really dramatic and that is why it will be remembered (actually more like scarred) for a long while.

Wow the father in your incident must be real loud since you can hear him loud and clear on 9th floor. I agree this is definitely not the way as it will not do the daughter’s self esteem any good. I hope the 2 other kids do not disrespect their sister in the same way.

I think kids will understand time out a little better when they’re older. Actually I believe both your boy and Isaac will be able to understand the concept real soon. My nephew is about 2 years and 8 months old and I believe he understands the concept but whether or not he listens and obey is another story altogether.

We learnt recently that if we stare and be all stern with Isaac and carry a very fierce tone then he will understand that we are not playing with him. He will stay quiet, not smile and look down at the floor sometimes. However like I mentioned in my post, the Mrs can do this while I can’t because I will find him so cute and will automatically smile at him. For that I too will get scolding from the Mrs. Heh heh

Hopefully more parents will leave their comments here so that newbies like us can learn from them and design our own method of disciplining out young.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Nicole,

Hahahaha your Ms Cleo is really something. She is so much ahead of most kids her age but that also means she will grow out of this “naughty” stage much earlier too.

Sometimes the kids can communicate with each other better. So cute right the two of them? We recently learnt that Isaac can understand when we are upset with him. We have to change our tone and the way we look. But I hate doing that to him. To me he is still this cute little baby Isaac.

I totally agree with what you say about walking away. It is best to not mete out any punishment at the moment when we are really upset and angry. There is a very high tendency that we will over do things and apologizing later may or may not any damage caused. Take the hammering of the child’s hand for example, what if there was some permanent damage to her hand then they will regret it forever.

I was actually hoping that we will punish our kids less as they grown older because they should be able to reason better by then. I think at that time the Western (Super Nanny) method of grounding and taking away their benefits will work better.

Don’t worry about the length of your comment for this post seems to get readers to post lengthy comments.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Cecilia,

I think I will tell my kids that first of all the girl was probably naughty and that angered her mummy but then the mummy also wrong because she should not hit anyone like that let alone her own daughter.

When I was young it was my mum that is the disciplinarian too. The reason is my father worked at the shipyard so he is worried that he might hit us a little too hard unknowingly. My mum on the other hand does not have to hit us. She just has to stare at us whenever we misbehaved and we will immediately sit down and be quiet.

We really have to be careful with our behaviour seeing how they will even remember the way we act and talk when we are angry at them and later mimic us. The Montessori book that I got said that we as parents are our kids’ first teacher in life and our home is their first classroom.

Personally I prefer to have both parents as good and bad cops because we really want them to be able to come running to either of us with their problems in the futue. I think depending on the incident and who catches them in the act that parent will be the bad cop while the other will observe and step in should the punishment gets out of hand. This is also a good way to keep the bad cop in check in case he / she mete out harsh punishment. Later this good cop can also go with the softer approach to explain things to the kid in case this is a very stubborn child.

I agree that everyday is a learning experience. I once heard of a dad telling his daughter who got into trouble that it is ok because while she is learning how to be a good daughter, this is his first time being a dad too. So it is an enriching experience for both the child and parent.

The Bimbo said...

mmm On the other hand... I've seen parents who let their kids completely go haywire and they don't care at all like swinging from the handle bars of the MRT from one end of the cabin to the other end... or stomping on the chairs with their shoes on.

I think it's not about anger management. I think it's about letting the child know from the start. There are kids who know how to behave... and I think they know because their parents have been very consistent at home with the dos and donts. And there are no threats... just real punishments if they do the donts. I think with threats, children try to push the limit and hope that this is one of the times mommy or daddy is just faking it.

And when children push it enough, they know that they can push it further in public because parents are less likely to react in public. So the child might have pushed it too far (in the first incident) to be punished like that. HOWEVER, it's still the parent's fault that the child did so.

As for the second... I reckon it wasn't even the child's fault in the first place. Something else probably pushed the father to that state. Otherwise... why SP?

I know I know.. I'm single. But this is one of the things which really sends me thinking when people ask me if I want kids. Am I able to be that consistent parent... who doesn't send mixed signals to the child? When the parent isn't consistent in behaviour and reaction the child gets confused. The child has no idea when is the right time to do what.... so how? I don't think I can. haha so no kids for me man. :P

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Judy,

Hey whatever works right? I’m glad things like facing the wall works for you. To me it sure beats having to use the cane. When I was young I had to kneel in front of the altar at home whenever I was naughty.

For most of us it is never easy canning our children. Now I really comprehend the saying of hitting on their bodies but the pain is felt by our hearts instead. Like most parents will agree it is very important to let them know why were they punished for so in Cheyanne’s case she understands and still loves her daddy.

It’s nice to see that our generation practices such act of hugging, kissing and making up after the punishment. I believe this will go a very long way in the healthy development between child and parent.

I actually believe that with this type of teaching the child will learn to grow up being reasonable and once they have achieved that there is no more need for them to be “scared” of the parents. I guess we are all still feeling our ways around so there isn’t really a right or wrong way unless it is the extreme like the incidents in my post.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Joyce,

There are indeed many schools of thoughts here. Different strokes for different folks. Whatever works for each family right?

I find your method is closest to whatever I have in mind for the Tan family. I prefer for both of us to be able to punish them there and then on the spot instead of having to wait till the official disciplinarian to come home. I also prefer for the one to punish to be the same one to explain things to the kid. The only thing I would add is to have the other parent around to make sure that punishment does not get out of hand especially if it was meted out at the fit of anger.

So does your method of giving 3 chances and going from wooden ruler to cane working? This is surely something that I can use.

The importance of making them understand what they are punished for cannot be stressed enough. I feel if they do not understand then they will grow up to be more defiant and rebellious. Nice to see that parents in our generation are practicing the kiss and make up approach after each punishment.

Don’t worry about the long comment. Guess this is a topic that readers have a lot to say. This is good for we can then learn from one another.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Bobo,

I believe I have briefly touched on this topic of parents not disciplining their kids and letting them be a nuisance to the public. They are indeed a pain and the funny thing is most of us Singaporean will just keep quiet and let them be. I’m sure if one of us were to speak up then perhaps the rest will chip in. This might make the parents understand that they really have to do something about it in the future.

I agree that all the problems can be solved with the right conditioning. Once a colleague said to me that if a child grows up in neat and tidy environment and learns to respect the things at home then you can be assured that he will not be making a mess of other people’s places or draw on their walls for example.

Children are indeed smart and they will know who is a pushover as well as testing the limits of their parents hence it is important to be consistent and clear right from the start.

Interesting take you have on the second incident. The way I read it is the child might have been a nuisance during the journey probably with her question of “are we there yet?” and the dad finally snapped right outside SP where he can pull over and show his displease. I believe SP is only on the way and not a target itself. At least I don’t think so.

Actually I have confident you will make an excellent parent so don’t rule out the possibility now. Maybe your motherly instinct has not kick in yet. I was quite happy not having any children years ago but today not seeing them for a day will make me miss them terribly so you never know.

Joyce said...

Hi Dylan,

The method works quite well with my older boy. He's actually quite scare of the wooden ruler & cane. So, we seldom have to resort to 'physical punishment'; cuz he knows when mummy/daddy says it, she/he will sure to execute it. I.e. we do not 'threaten' with the use. Hence, if verbal instructions or 3 chances do not achieve what's desired, and when we say "if you still misbehave, or etc...., I'll be using the wooden ruler to discipline you.", he'd normally understand that he's stretching his limits and stop his misbehaviour.

As for the younger boy, I think he's at the learning stage. So, I do not think he fully comprehend this 'protocol' yet. But he's seen how kor kor gets it, so hopefully he'll also 'learn' overtime. Hence at this moment, we pretty much teach him by 'action'. So, instead of saying, cannot throw, we say & show him: "put it this way, etc.", instead of saying cannot 'hit', we show him how to gently stroke/sayang.

We also started with the above with the older boy, then gradually proceed to the 3chances, wooden ruler &/or cane protocol. Hahaha, sound so regimental huh :D!?!

But what you've correctly pointed out is the fact that, as parent, it is important to be consistent and clear right from the start. And I also find it interesting about the part you mentioned about once you heard of a dad telling his daughter who got into trouble that it is ok because while she is learning how to be a good daughter, this is his first time being a dad too.

It's interesting indeed. Sometimes, we forgot that they're still kids, and their presence on earth thus far is barely a few years only. So, when we said dun misbehave, or behave, they may not know what that means. Whilst in our mind, we already knew/perceived what we're talking about. So, at the same time they're learning to 'behave' right, we also need to learn to discern.

Von said...

Hi Dylan,

I guessed different methods have to be deployed to different ages. The key thing here is consistency. Don't just threaten and failed to carry through the act, the kid will learn not to take you seriously.
But for 2s, the best method is to distract them. It works well for my son when he was 2. If he misbehaves, say "NO" firmly, look at him and dun smile. Let him understand the word "NO". You'd be surprised he can read your facial expression at that age.
Now that my son is coming 4, I'm using both the 1-2-3 method as well as the time-out method on him.He knows to behave the way I want him to even before I reach 3.
As for the time-out option, its not so much a punishment but an outlet for him to "think". Thats what I advocate, I always request for him to think for 5 mins in our balcony corner when he misbehaves.
He would be able to tell me afterwards why he was made to sit there and this is effective most of the time as I do see a reduction in undesirable behaviour in him.
Hope this helps a little.

fucheen said...


I use the naughty corner on my daughter from the time she was 18 months. It works well and we have not had to correct her again.

We had her sit there for 30 seconds, then hug and explain to her what she should not repeat.

It was heartbreaking when she cried, but the corner we picked out turns out to be one of her favourite places to snack too. She has no issues about sitting there at normal times. So, this is our way of "cushioning" the naughty corner.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Joyce,

I’m glad to know that your older boy is afraid of the wooden ruler so that means there is seldom the need to go to the cane. I think the bottom line here is parents must carry out the threats otherwise they will walk all over us.

I’m sure your older boy will set a good example for his younger brother. If not then he will also show him what is the end result should he misbehave. Either way is a form of example. Hahahahaha

I really like the admission by the father that he is new to his role as a father as well hence it is a learning experience for both of them. I found this to be so true and meaningful. Unfortunately for the life of me I cannot remember who said it.

I also like how you highlighted that they are at the end of the day just kids who doesn’t know any better. That’s why they say parenting requires a whole lot of patience.

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi Von,

Welcome back! I do agree that as the child grows the method to discipline will need to be refined accordingly. I sincerely hope that as they grow other I can reason with them instead of having to use corporal punishment.

I am beginning to understand from all you experienced parents to be consistent and carry out the threat of physical punishment otherwise they will walk all over us.

We are using the distraction method for Isaac now although I must say I am not sure if this is the best method. At least it beats leaving him crying and lying on the floor. As for giving him the stern “No” and not smiling, I have to admit I have a long way to go. Whenever he flashes that cheeky smile of his my facial muscles will automatically react. However I have to say that he does understand our tone and facial expression whenever we try and show him that we are angry. But I must add that he is still cute when he is afraid of us.

I know I will definitely be using the 1-2-3 method but I hope I have success with the time-out method. Somehow I imagine him walking away from his official time-out corner the second I put him in it. I seriously cannot imagine him staying in there for 5 mins! But I guess when he is old enough for the time-out corner he should be able to understand the concept.

Thanks for sharing your methods and experiences. God knows we’ll be needing them soon.

A Husband's Voice said...

Wow Fucheen long time no hear!!

Your 18 months old daughter is already being put in the naughty corner? I’m impressed! Looks like Isaac is having is easy then. I’ve always felt that he is too young to understand the naughty corner. I imagine he will walk out the minute I put him there. How did you overcome it?

Looks like I must observe if he has a favourite corner at home now so that we can turn it into his naughty corner. Hahahaha

Anonymous said...

wah those two incidents really me me shiver... especially the one at the restuarant. here in australia if someone really did one of those things someone would have called the police on them.. definitely. poor kids ><

A Husband's Voice said...

Hi there,

Thanks for leaving your comment. In that respect we have a lot to learn from the Westerners. Over here in Asia we prefer not to make a big fuss unless they go overboard of course.