Threatening our Children Causes Many Problems

The little girl ran from one side of the waiting room to the other, almost tripping the adult walking by. Her mother tried to stop her, but the three-year-old ran out of her reach. When she finally got her back to her seat, she stood up and began jumping up and down dangerously close to the edge of the chair.

The frantic mother told the child to sit down, or she would not get a treat when they left. It didn't work. When all other negotiations failed, the mother seemed to have had enough. She said to the child with exasperation, “When the nurse comes out, she’s going to give you a shot!” The little girl stopped dead in her tracks and looked at her mother.

The little girl ran from one side of the waiting room to the other, almost tripping the adult walking by. Her mother tried to stop her, but the three-year-old ran out of her reach. When she finally got her back to her seat, she stood up and began jumping up and down dangerously close to the edge of the chair....

About that time, the door opened, and there stood the nurse. The mother looked up at the door, and the little girl followed her eyes.

Absolute terror appeared on her face. When the nurse called her name, the child broke down in tears. By the time she reached the examining room, she was hysterical. When the doctor came in, he had a tough time examining her sore throat.

My friend at work told me that her parents used that as a form of discipline when she was a child, and she is still terrified of shots.

She suffers from a condition known as Trypanophobia, “a persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of injections,” that affects countless people each year and can significantly impact the quality of life. It causes panic attacks.

Of course, nobody really likes getting shots, but people with Trypanophobia have symptoms that typically include shortness of breath, rapid breathing, irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea, and overall feelings of dread.

It is caused by a past event in their life that links injections and emotional trauma. That doesn't mean every child threatened with a shot will become Trypanophobic, but some can.

When our children were small, I learned a valuable lesson about threatening my children with other people's behavior. Our youngest son was so active. He seemed to wake up thinking of ways to get into trouble.

Some days I could hardly wait for my husband to get home so he could take over. Occasionally, I was guilty of saying, “When your dad gets home…”

My husband asked me not to do that because it made him feel bad when he had to come home and discipline our son for misbehavior.

When he came in, I told him our youngest son had been in trouble all day, and he needed to talk to him. He looked at me for a few minutes and then walked outside and returned with a stick (what some may call the switch).

Before I could say anything, he told our son to go into the bedroom. I started to protest, and he said, “You told him I would handle it, so stay out of it.” I hesitated as the door closed until I heard a loud whack followed by the sound of our son crying out in agony.

My husband seldom spanked our children, so I opened the door to see what was going on. There he stood, hitting the bed with the stick and our son standing beside him with his eyes closed, yelling as loud as he could after every blow to the bed.

The little girl ran from one side of the waiting room to the other, almost tripping the adult walking by. Her mother tried to stop her, but the three-year-old ran out of her reach. When she finally got her back to her seat, she stood up and began jumping up and down dangerously close to the edge of the chair....

I got the point. It was easier for me to threaten my son with his dad’s impending arrival as the great disciplinarian than it was for me to deal with his behavior.

My husband said when he came home, he wanted the children to be glad to see him. He didn’t want to be portrayed as the big bad guy who only dished out their punishment.

Children’s minds are like clay when they are little. We can shape it without even realizing what we are doing. When a parent tells a child that the police will come and get him if he is bad, he becomes confused and loses trust in authority.

Did you know there is a word for fear of the police?  It is Capiophobia, persistent, abnormal, and irrational fear of being arrested.  Have you ever heard parents tell their children that the police will get them if they aren’t good?

It becomes even worse when the leaders of our country began telling our young people that the police are out to get them because of the color of their skin.

The policeman becomes the bad guy, just like the father does when the mother uses his name to discipline their child. That also happens when we use threats like, “That doctor or nurse is going to give you a shot if you don’t calm down.” It builds unnecessary fear and distrust in the heart of a child.

If a child needs a shot, the parent can truthfully explain that the shot may hurt for a moment, but the medicine will help eliminate the bacteria that are causing them to be sick.

A good place to begin talking about police is explaining what their job is.  For instance:

  • A police officer is a person whose job is to help keep people safe. The job of a police officer is to help people follow laws.
  • A law is a rule. For example, it is against the law to steal things. It is against the law to hurt people.

It will open up a conversation that can be helpful and informative.

Nurses, Doctors, and Policemen are part of a family, just like we are:  They come in all colors and from many backgrounds.  Their jobs are to help and protect.

Threatening is never positive. Talking to our children with respect builds their self-esteem and provides them with healthy development.

There are so many things that are frightening our children now. There is no need to add to their fears by threatening them with other people’s behavior, especially if you know those people care about them.


Author's Image
Deana Landers
Author for Morningcoffeebeans.com

I have had many roles in life
Pastor’s Wife , Mom/Nana , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer , Christian Speaker
I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing stories, either in my head or in my journal.

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Story Comments

  1. Great article Deana, we at LifeSavingBooks stands we these values. We don't want our kids to develop fear at their young age. It will stop them from having the courage to explore things and learn from their mistakes every time they fail.Scott TurnerCEO, LifeSavingBooks.com

    • Deana Landers -

      Scott, thank you for reading and commenting on my article. I write many articles about children on my website. I checked your website and was very impressed with the work you all are doing. I want to learn more about Lifesaving books and plan to explore them more. Sincerely,Deana Landers

  2. Whoops, I never thought of it like that and I'm guilty of telling my kids "just wait until your Dad comes home" too. He never complained, but I'm feeling really guilty right now. I guess a honest chat with the kids might be in order <3

    • Deana Landers -

      Thank you, Michelle,Deana

  3. Your husband is a wise man! No one is born being a great parent. It takes work and a lot of prayers!

    • Deana Landers -

      He is, Marty. He thinks with his head first and then his heart. I start with my heart. Thank you my friend for always commenting and sharing. I appreciate your wise words.Deana

  4. Your husband is a wise man! No one is born knowing how to be a good parent. It's something we have to work at and a great thing when we ask for guidance!

    • Deana Landers -

      He is, Marty. He thinks with his head first and then his heart. I start with my heart. Thank you my friend for always commenting and sharing. I appreciate your wise words.Deana

  5. My mother had a motto. She took care of it herself. She wanted us to listen to her, not just our father. My parents always said, if parents have to threaten their kids with other people, they shouldn't be parents. Growing up hearing and living that, I learned that when I had my kids, they must listen to me and not because of silly threats. I waitressed for years from HS through college. I can't tell you how many times parents who had no authority over their own children would tell their kids, "the waitress is going to yell at you." Ummmm, NO, I'm not. I'm going to serve food and drinks and smile and be polite, I'm not here to discipline YOUR kids. I never did that with my own kids. They listened to me because I was the mother/authority and if they didn't listen, they paid the consequences. As a parent, from day one, you need to let your children know you are the person in charge.

    • Deana Landers -

      Doreen, thank you. You said that perfectly!!Deana

  6. Well said Deana; self esteem is so important to healthy development! I can remember my own Dad telling me I'd be locked away in jail if I didn't behave and would only get bread to eat! But that actually backfired because I don't mind my own company and actually preferred bread to my mother's cooking - lol!

    • Deana Landers -

      Oh, that is so funny, Sara! Thank you my friend for always commenting and sharing.Deana

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