When I was twelve years old a friend of mine called a girl “ugly.” Sure he was being very rude, but the truth is, he liked this girl and it was his (extremely) awkward and ineffective way of flirting. His grandma came out and proceeded to give us a ten minute talking to that managed to bring in Jesus, judgment, and a whole host of other topics. I don’t remember them, because, like all lectures I received, I pretended to be contrite while proceeding to ignore every other word. Then, later we laughed about it. In fact, David and I still laugh about it to this day.
While certain discipline methods are inappropriate or criminal, of the commonly accepted ones, the most ineffective has to be lecturing. And, it makes sense if you think about it. Everyone hates lecturing. And this includes adults, especially parents who constantly lecture their kids. What adult wants to be lectured by a boss, a spouse, or a friend? I can’t think of one. And yet, since we’ve been lectured so many times (by teachers, etc.), we revert to what we know, even though it doesn’t work.
Lecturing doesn’t work for a couple of reasons. First, it is simply telling the kid what he or she already knows. Most older kids know right from wrong. For a variety of reasons they just make poor choices. And, telling them what they did was wrong in a long winded fashion is overkill. Lecturing is usually telling a kid what they already know. Even if it’s information they don’t know, the tone and implications in lecturing aren’t really educational and motivational. So, they tune it out and resent it.
Second, lecturing provides nothing to people. The lecturer might think it makes an impact, but it usually doesn’t. This is because it’s focused typically on shame, guilt, and the negative. While everything we do can’t be positive, even negative consequences need a positive angle. Otherwise it just leads to frustration and despair on the part of the person being disciplined.
So, lecturing is very ineffective. The best way to impact a child is to let them know what they did was wrong, possibly apply a consequence (like taking away something), then positively motivate them to do better. It could be thinking of a reward, tapping into their internal motivation, or anything else. But, if there’s one thing that is ineffective, it’s a ten minute long lecture that they don’t listen to and make fun of later.