Using Fear to Control Our Children

Please watch this video first: Intervention Program Exposes Kids to Jail, Raises Questions for Some - Crime Watch Daily

I have watched the video. Like what it is said at the beginning of the video, this program is controversial indeed. There are two sides of this story: the judge's side and the psychologist's side. Both of their opinions have merits.

For instance, from the judge's perspective, there need to be harsh reality check done on these kids because they are now "deaf" to anything their parents say (as evident from what the video described as the kids being disconnected from their parents). I can understand why the parents are on the judge's side, seeing that they are desperate and out of ideas.

At the same time, what the psychologist said has to be taken seriously. Understanding the emotional and psychological trauma of such a situation could help us make an educated guess as to the social trajectory that these kids might follow in the future.

Is it possible that these kids will change for the better? Yes, that possibility is there and an in depth statistical analysis of the data from that social experiment might give us more details (or, the analysis might surprise us).

Looking at it from the emotional perspective, it doesn't make the situation easier.

On one hand, we have to understand the social situation that the parents are going through. Realistically, they wouldn't want their children to be hurt in any way but because the parents are at their wits end, that might be one of the core reasons why they tolerated such an extreme intervention program.

Perhaps they have tried everything else, and they are holding on to the last rope. So we do sympathize with their struggle.

On the other hand, we want the kids to change long term and not change for a few days before returning to their old ways (or worse). Does this intervention program points towards a long lasting, positive change in the kids or is it just a temporary solution to make ourselves feel better?

I don't know.

Personally, I am not a big fan of using fear as a method of control. It is an easy way out for people to restore order in a situation. It is usually temporary, and it doesn't really imprint a positive picture inside the person who is afraid. You might change as the result of fear, but is it a good change? That question is controversial in itself.

Punishments do have a place in a society. People who committed a crime should face the appropriate consequences of their actions, as deterrence to prevent future crimes. However, punishments shouldn't be the norm. They are designed to be exceptional, to deal with exceptional cases in a society.

A longer lasting change can happen through love. Love takes time, effort, and a lot of patience - especially when we talk about young children. Unlike fear, love doesn't control. It influences, by triggering change from the inside and not from the outside.

Love is more difficult to implement than fear. But it is a difficult task that we signed up for, the minute we decided to get married and have children. Therefore, we should be well prepared with the proper skill sets to be able to face it head on.

Love motivates a person to do the action. Fear, on the other hand, motivates the person to run from the things he or she fears, through doing the action. Hence, love is more longer lasting than fear. With fear, the moment the thing you fear disappears, you don't feel the need to do the action anymore.

We want love, not fear, to be the reason our child does something we asked.

It is important to understand that no human beings do something for no reason. Everything we do has a reason. Kids don't develop bad behaviours out of thin air. Bad behaviours have sources and identifying the sources is crucial in order to be good parents to our kids.

Parents have to play the essential role in making sure their children develop good behaviours, because parents are the children's first reference point in life. It is not farfetched to think that perhaps the parents could be one of the main reasons why the children are behaving badly.

In many situations, we are focused on the bad behaviours of the children and thinking that the children are the problem. Yes and no. Of course, children have to take responsibility for their actions but it is premature to blame it all on them. Perhaps what we see in them is the reflection of ourselves.

In no way should we put 100% blame on the parents either, because it is possible that the kids could develop bad behaviours even when they have excellent parents. There is an element of individual choices in this equation that we have to consider if we want to have a more holistic view of the situation.

Each person is responsible for his or her own actions. One wrong doesn't justify another wrong. We have to be fair when analyzing situations such as the one briefly portrayed in the video. It is easy to pick a side and to completely condemn the other side. But sometimes, there are no sides to choose because both are neither completely innocent nor completely guilty.

Perhaps, both should be in an intervention program.

Aiman Azlan

Aiman Azlan is a motivational speaker, a vlogger, and an author. With an aptitute for psychology, he likes to address topics related to emotional, mental, and spiritual well being. He has traveled all over Malaysia and beyond to speak to predominantly youth audience, speaking about various youth-related topics such as identity, love, family relationship, productivity, community, and self-worth. He now resides in Perlis with his wife and son.