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Education

New Zealand Schools Find Less Structure Improves Children's Behavior 127

Posted by timothy
from the children-is-a-weird-plural dept.
First time accepted submitter geminidomino writes "A research project involving eight schools in Dunedin and Auckland report that loosening rules on the playground may lead to fewer incidents of bullying, vandalism, and injury. One principal opines, 'The kids were motivated, busy and engaged. In my experience, the time children get into trouble is when they are not busy, motivated and engaged. It's during that time they bully other kids, graffiti or wreck things around the school.' As one might expect, the article states that there was a lot of resistance to the project, and I'm kind of surprised they got as many administrators to sign on as they did. The story may be premature, as the article states that 'the results of the study will be collated this year,' but it may be interesting to see how the numbers shake out."
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New Zealand Schools Find Less Structure Improves Children's Behavior

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  • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @11:39AM (#46091467) Journal
    I can tell you from experience that 'lack of rules' does not prevent bullying.

    And that's not what happened here either, from the story. They gave the kids toys, which kept them occupied. That's what happened. Some of the toys were slightly dangerous (like trees for climbing, one example), and that's why they called it 'getting rid of rules.'
    • by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @11:46AM (#46091545) Homepage Journal

      Rules against harmful behavior are good, because they limit harmful behavior. Rules about how to play add stress, anger, and rebelliousness. This isn't especially complicated, and the headline makes perfect sense.

      I mean, anarchists are going to believe their dumb philosophy regardless of your pedantic correction of a headline. You haven't won anyone over to the "some rules are good" land.

      • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @12:00PM (#46091703) Journal

        Rules against harmful behavior are good, because they limit harmful behavior. Rules about how to play add stress, anger, and rebelliousness. This isn't especially complicated, and the headline makes perfect sense.

        It may make sense, but it's not related to the story. Really, read it; they gave the kids better toys, and the kids were more entertained. Some parents were worried because the toys might be dangerous. That's basically it.

        • by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @12:04PM (#46091745) Homepage Journal

          There were two references to things that could be called "toys" in the article, and neither is a resounding support of what you just said.

          One:
          "junk such as wood, tyres and an old fire hose."
          Such amazing new toys there. WOOD! TIRES! whoooooooooooooa.
          Two:
          Skateboarding allowed(as opposed to skateboards provided, I guess). Which is a change in rules, not supplies.

          • Yes. Now imagine how bad their toys must have been before, if tires are an improvement.
            • by jittles (1613415) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @12:17PM (#46091847)

              Yes. Now imagine how bad their toys must have been before, if tires are an improvement.

              Seriously? I would have loved to play with those tires in elementary school. In fact, I can tell you right now that the best week of the year during my childhood was always the week the city allowed you to dump all your trash in the street for pickup. We would most certainly play with old tires during that time. We would also take apart old/broken TV sets that were awaiting disposal, and other electronics. I had all sorts of fun fancy toys at home, but I always preferred being creative with random every day junk. You could satisfy all sorts of curiosity that you were not allowed to indulge in with your toys at home.

              • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @01:08PM (#46092353)

                One of the best toys we had as kids was a huge cardboard box. On different days it would be a castle, or a spaceship, or an Moon base, or a cave, or... heck knows what.

                Kids are quite happy to use their imagination, so long as they haven't had it beaten out of them by 'structure'.

                • The carton that a refrigerator comes in is ideal. Whenever somebody's parents got a new refrigerator, the cast off box was a treasure to us. Cartons for washers, dryers etc. were good, but came in second.

                • If you get the deluxe model it can also be a transmogrifier =)

                  (I'm on your side. Kids act out to get attention or to feel more in control. The former requires actual loving care, but certainly the latter can be minimized by eliminating any non-essential rules.)

              • by styrotech (136124)

                Tyres (especially from trucks and tractors) were common school playground equipment when I was a kid. As well as those large wooden spools used for heavy duty electrical cables and sections of 1m diameter concrete stormwater pipes. The pipes were concreted in place though - no rolling those around :)

                • by Cimexus (1355033)

                  Australian? That totally describes a typical 80s-90s Aussie playground...

                  • by Cimexus (1355033)

                    Ah nevermind - your post history suggests Kiwi :) God forbid I call a New Zealander an Australian (worse than calling a Canadian an American), apologies.

                    I'm Australian and just remember growing up with exactly that kind of playground so I jumped to conclusions...

                    • by styrotech (136124)

                      No worries, I like Australians :)

                      And if you guys keep having those heatwaves, we'll have to get used to having you all around here more. This summer I bumped into a few different groups that came over for the weather raving about how much nicer 25C was than 45C :)

                    • by Cimexus (1355033)

                      Well it's all relative. I grew up in Canberra so am definitely a cold weather person more than a hot weather person (though, Canberra gets both ... can be well below zero in winter, -7 or -8, and yet still hit 40 C in summer).

                      I'm living in the Midwest US at the moment though and that's a whole different kind of cold. This morning it was minus 29 C (and the high temperature was only minus 19 or so)...

                • by Reapy (688651)

                  That was our big playground upgrade in a small western MA town in the 80's, 2 giant spools with a bridge connecting and a few tires. I think a kid fell off the bridge thing though so they eventually closed it down and got a more modern plastic set up that you see now a days.

              • by Type44Q (1233630)

                We would also take apart old/broken TV sets that were awaiting disposal

                And accidentally discovering how much energy a capacitor can hold is always the best part! :p

              • by mcgrew (92797) *

                We would also take apart old/broken TV sets that were awaiting disposal, and other electronics.

                You were lucky you survived. Those old TVs had huge amounts of energy stored in those big can capacitors; a CRT TV doesn't have to be plugged in to kill you. All it takes is touching it in the wrong place.

                • by jittles (1613415)

                  We would also take apart old/broken TV sets that were awaiting disposal, and other electronics.

                  You were lucky you survived. Those old TVs had huge amounts of energy stored in those big can capacitors; a CRT TV doesn't have to be plugged in to kill you. All it takes is touching it in the wrong place.

                  We knew enough not to mess with the caps. We actually were scavenging for vacuum tubes. My dad used to be an electrician and we had all sorts of components laying around the house.

            • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @12:20PM (#46091859)

              Yes. Now imagine how bad their toys must have been before, if tires are an improvement.

              What a failure of imagination. I feel sorry for you. Tires can be amazing toys -- they roll, they bounce, you can climb through them, you can line them up and run through them in a funny way, they do all sorts of wobbly funny things if you don't just roll them... add water and/or sand/mud, and I can think of a lot more fun activities.

              It seems like you've never been around a small child who found a large box to be the best toy he got for Christmas. He doesn't care about the fancy toy inside of it -- the box is more entertainment by itself.

              Witness that a few times, and you'll understand why the new toys in the story were probably an improvement over some sort of static fancy approved "equipment" that probably was what was there before.

            • by spazzmo (743767)
              The equipment was better, but more limiting to imagination. "Worse" equipment, i.e. junk, made for more imaginative play.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            In college I lived in an old dorm with rooms around a central staircase. I was on one of the lower floors and my roommate and I had to continually deal with being pelted with water balloons from above. The dorm had fire hose connections, but the fire hoses had been removed from the dorms. Imagine that....

            My roommate and I got fed up with being pelted, so after being pelted my roommate and I broke into one of the academic buildings one night and stole one of the fire hoses there. We lugged it back into o

          • by dcw3 (649211)

            I'm guessing you don't have kids, or been responsible for them. Preteens will generally play with the package as much as the toy inside. The bigger the box, the better, especially if they can fit inside of it. you don't need something fancy or expensive to entertain them.

            Heard your kid say "I'm bored"? Send them outside, or give them a chore. Both work wonders. Too many helicopter parents feel the need to fill every waking moment of their child's life with planned activities.

        • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @12:09PM (#46091787)

          Rules against harmful behavior are good, because they limit harmful behavior. Rules about how to play add stress, anger, and rebelliousness. This isn't especially complicated, and the headline makes perfect sense.

          It may make sense, but it's not related to the story. Really, read it; they gave the kids better toys, and the kids were more entertained.

          Actually, since I read TFA, I can say that it *IS* related to the story. They didn't just give the kids "better toys" -- they let them do things they weren't allowed to do before, like climb trees and play "bullrush" (basically a kind of fast-paced tag). I don't think they installed the trees there just for the kids to climb -- instead, the implication is that previously it was disallowed.

          In other words, they used to have more rules prohibiting various games and activities on the playground. They got rid of many of those rules. They also happened to give them a few other "toys" as you put it, some of which were not the fancy "approved" safe toys for playgrounds or whatever.

          But they also got rid of a number of restrictive rules, according to the article I read anyway. (Obviously, I don't think they got rid of the "no bullying" rule -- it's just that when kids have more things to do, they are less likely to find it necessary to get "in trouble" just to have something to do.)

          • by jythie (914043)
            *nods* perhaps a better description would be that they provided them with more unstructured play then rather then being put in terms of rules.
          • by kwbauer (1677400)

            Probably because some of those tag-like games involve small amounts of "bullying" behavior and is a safe way for everybody to get it out of their systems.

    • by Firethorn (177587)

      In my experience attempting too much control can and will lead to more misbehavior, I've seen it in dormitories.

      When you try to organize things too much, you often end up with periods of nothing(misbehavior opportunities) due to scheduling, lagging, etc...

      • by i kan reed (749298) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @11:50AM (#46091603) Homepage Journal

        Teaching is a profession dominated by meticulous organizers, you know ENFJ types, because they're pretty much the only ones that can cope with the amount of personal planning it takes. So that mentality ends up being projected onto students too, who don't do as well that way.

        (I just looked up ENFJ, it's apparently called the "teacher" personality type, funny)

        • by Firethorn (177587)

          I just finished reading the article, I found it interesting that the 'toys' that they provided amounted to 'non-sharp junk' and provided far more entertainment than the 'child-safe' structures that were otherwise approved, resulting in them being very expensive(have to be carefully designed and built, unbreakable by kids), but 'boring' because they're static.

          Meanwhile kids are unlikely to hurt themselves in a way that they won't be back up and playing in 5-10 minutes with a used car tire(carefully inspected

          • I just finished reading the article, I found it interesting that the 'toys' that they provided amounted to 'non-sharp junk' and provided far more entertainment than the 'child-safe' structures that were otherwise approved, resulting in them being very expensive(have to be carefully designed and built, unbreakable by kids), but 'boring' because they're static.

            This is a good point. It's probably not that surprising to any parents of small children, for whom playing with a big box that a present was wrapped in is often more fun than actually playing with the expensive toy that was inside the box.

          • I feel like basically every other post in this entire discussion would be a better one for you to reply to with that point, in terms of relatedness.

      • by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @11:59AM (#46091695)

        True, but I'd add two caveats. First, too little rules can lead to kids engaging in patently dangerous activities. I'm not talking about potentially dangerous things like climbing trees, but doing things like bullying or hitting each other with objects. You need basic ground rules. The trick is setting those ground rules without them morphing into a "control every move you make" rules system.

        Second, there are some kids that like organization. My son has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and Anxiety Disorder. He thrives on schedules and hates disorganized time. The more time he spends where he doesn't know what he is supposed to be doing, the more anxious he gets and the more likely he is to engage in behavior that will get him in trouble. (Sadly, too few people see this rising anxiety and just assume he's a trouble-maker despite a doctor's diagnosis and repeated talks with people about ways to spot his anxiety.) In his case, you almost can't schedule his day too much. Almost because being too specific on the schedule can lead to anxiety when the schedule needs to change on the fly. He doesn't handle this well either.

        Of course, I recognize that he's the exception rather than the rule, but it just goes to show that you need to take the individual child's needs into consideration rather than assuming that one set of rules (or lack thereof) will fit all children.

        • by PRMan (959735)
          And I would guess that he would gravitate to the organized bullrush game.
        • Second, there are some kids that like organization... you need to take the individual child's needs into consideration rather than assuming that one set of rules (or lack thereof) will fit all children.

          Exactly - a 'one-size-fits-all' solution does not work in situations where "all" are of completely differing and wildly varying "sizes." The fact is, some kids learn better from cramming books; some learn from working with their hands; some can't fathom a complex schedule, and some can't fathom not having every aspect of their day planned out beforehand. But the government and schools either fail to recognize this fact, or just ignore it... were I a betting man, my money would be on the latter, as custom-ta

      • That goes for adults, too. Treat people like little children, and they will act accordingly.
        • by Firethorn (177587)

          Unstated: The dormatories were for enlisted ages 18-22. Very much adults in most people's minds. Probably applies to colleges as well, if not as much because most won't have regular room inspections or other such 'silly' rules.

      • It's not just that. Think of these four statements:
        Don't drink the bleach, it's dangerous.
        Don't cross the street, it's dangerous.
        Don't climb the tree/fence/on top of cars, it's dangerous.
        Don't run on the pavement, it's dangerous (real rule instituted at my grade school after I had graduated, where recess was held in the parking lot).

        Too many rules closes too many doors. Kids will then decide on their own which rule is ok to break, and their safety now completely depends on their ability to assess which of

    • by Shalaska (1964046)

      Exactly, and apparently the students are being better monitored for the study, every time I was bullied in the past it was while no one was watching or around, and I almost never reported it. That said it is only a matter of time until some kid is seriously hurt (or killed) falling out of a tree (or similar activity) and regardless of the effects on bullying those rules will be right back in place.

      • That is one of those things. If you do any sort of double blind study on education, the students in the control group invariably do better than unstudied typical students because the increased focus on performance tends to boost it.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Actually, they reported less monitoring is found to be necessary with the rules relaxed.

    • by Sique (173459) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @11:48AM (#46091577) Homepage
      Actually, it's not toys the teachers gave them. Toys are objects specially designed to be played with. None of the items they gave to the kids was specially designed to be played with. A tree is not a toy. An old tyre is not a toy. A hose is not a toy. And thus there was no direction for the kids if and how they had to play with the items. And that's what kept the children occupied, that's what kept them motivated and busy.

      And that's what also reduced the bullying. If there are much more exciting things to do than bullying someone, why even bother with it?

      • by dcw3 (649211)

        Your idea conflicts with others, so let's just call yours wrong.

        Wikipedia "A toy is any item that can be used for play."

        • by Sique (173459)
          As you can play with anything (including the Earth or even the Universe - think "solving astronomic quizzes"), everything is a toy. Whoa!

          I smell some problems with the definition you gave. An item is a toy just in the moment you play with it. And if it has no other uses as being played with, it is a toy all the time. But a tyre is not. Just because some children play with a tyre on a playground, your car is not rolling on toys.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The point isn't that 'lack of rules prevent bullying', the point is that 'less rules prevent help bullying'.

      When you put a group of people/children in a high stress situation with no outlet, they're either going to turn against themselves, each other or the system. Since children are too young to challenge the system and no one likes to GET "ouchies", they're naturally going to turn against one another, ie. bullying.

    • Idle hands = devil's workshop.

      When kids (or adults) are hemmed in by rules and basically made to "sit down, shut up and wait," that's when they find ways to do things...

      When "freedom" keeps them actively engaged doing things they find fun, why would they look for trouble?

      Unfortunately, I think it's a self-regulating state, like happiness or heroin, get a little and you feel great - next time you'll need more to get that good feeling back. Unfortunately for the schools, if they "liberally up-regulate" freed

      • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @12:17PM (#46091849) Homepage

        Why not reduce the regimentation of society as a whole? The mass of SSRIs and other happy pills people are gulping down to avoid total withdrawal and/or suicide may be telling us something.

        TFA isn't talking about declaring a 24/7 free for all, just including an unstructured break in the day. They're finding that it translates to better behavior and performance during the necessarily more structured times.

        So give the weekends and vacation days back and things will go better during the week. Only regiment what actually requires it. Replace managers who use obedience to regimentation as a way to fluff their egos with those more oriented towards productive and happy employees.

        • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @12:32PM (#46091995)

          I'll subscribe to your newsletter, but I don't think you've got a snowball's chance in hell of seeing this kind of change become mainstream in your lifetime.

          There's a chaotic mix out there, and some of the larger, evidence driven organizations are finding just what you say - reduce regimentation and get more productivity for less cost, and they attempt to drive that through the company structure to make themselves more competitive in the marketplace.

          There's also a tremendous holdover of WWII boot camp mentality about "sir, yes, SIR" being productive and efficient, and when the touchy-feely crap has a bad day that boot camp mentality makes a resurgence - usually from grass roots believers who can't stand seeing their subordinates screwing off without getting punished the way they did back in the day.

          At least most of us have stopped beating our children regularly as a teaching tool.

          • by dcw3 (649211)

            We ran into this about fifteen years ago when my company first started to let people telecommute. I was part of our pilot program. Some of the managers didn't mind, but a few complained that they didn't have a way to know when their people were working. Those managers should have been fired. If they don't collect production metrics, and can't tell if their employees are delivering products on schedule, then they have no business being in charge. Anyway, we still get to telecommute with our direct manag

            • by sjames (1099)

              Sure, different people do better in different environments. Reduced regimentation means those who telecommute best telecommute, those who do better in an office go to the office. But when they do, perhaps a floating lunch time works better than a sharply defined lunch. Some may find that talking about a project in the break room over coffee is more productive than sitting in the cube farm. Perhaps it's better for everyone if their work day is shifted by an hour.

            • Some people need structure, and work better when being told what to do constantly.

              Then you can get into nature vs nurture and wonder if the people who need structure need it because they've never been taught how to deal without it.

              I think that a U.S. Bachelor's degree (with decent grades, from a reasonable large school) is as much a sign of some capacity to function without rigid structure as any indication of learning the material in the degree specialization. At least when I went to High School, it was regimented like jail, and then University was like - show up, or don't, whatever du

    • well, they were less like prisoners.

      prisoners have 24/7 to think how to make trouble for other prisoners and the coppers.

      (occupied prisoners are easier to handle too..)

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I can tell you from experience that 'lack of rules' does not prevent bullying.

      And that's not what happened here either, from the story. They gave the kids toys, which kept them occupied. That's what happened. Some of the toys were slightly dangerous (like trees for climbing, one example), and that's why they called it 'getting rid of rules.'

      Yeah, lack of enforcement is the 100% recipe for abuse. Personal experience there, from good ol' days. Perhaps a key here is saying, you're all on your own, but the first infraction is the last infraction - we place bullies in Special Education, because they often need some special attention anyway.

    • by Havokmon (89874)

      I can tell you from experience that 'lack of rules' does not prevent bullying. And that's not what happened here either, from the story. They gave the kids toys, which kept them occupied. That's what happened. Some of the toys were slightly dangerous (like trees for climbing, one example), and that's why they called it 'getting rid of rules.'

      This more reminds me of the 'new at the time' Kindergarten teacher "Hi, so your child is restless, do you mind if we tie him to a chair? Our professors say that children "

      "Lady, you're telling me you can't control a 5yr old little boy? They're the definition of restless. Is he running around the room? "

      "No"

      "Is he beating on other kids"

      "No no, he's just restless and doesn't always pay attention"

      "As I said, that's what a little boy does. You have to attract his attention, not expect it. Make it interestin

  • 20 years from now. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @11:40AM (#46091475)

    Instead of a playground, children used their imagination to play in a "loose parts pit" which contained junk such as wood, tyres and an old fire hose.

    New Zealand's incredibly innovative and creative economy has allowed their populace to experience the highest living standard the World has ever known, followed by Finland's.

    The United States, who once held that title, is currently revamping their "No Child Left Behind" program and is currently changing their CS classes for the latest computer language and technologies in order to be competitive with the rest of the World in doing New Zealand's grunt programming work.

    In other news, New Zealand is struggling with the social issue of why there are still a bottom class of people who haven't yet achieved billionaire status. Of course, the rest of the World likes to use the derogatory term, "New Zealand Problems" in reference to the old "First World Problems" that was popular a couple of decades ago.

    • That's some hella inlflation for 20 years.

    • New Zealand's incredibly innovative and creative economy has allowed their populace to experience the highest living standard the World has ever known, followed by Finland's.

      How are you measuring "living standard" here, I'm really interested. Because there are a lot of pitfalls you can fall into while trying to measure that, and no very good ways to measure it.

    • New Zealand's incredibly innovative and creative economy has allowed their populace to experience the highest living standard the World has ever known, followed by Finland's.

      No, in GDP/capita (PPP) Finland is ranked 37th and NZ is 48. The US is 13. Finland and NZ are also ranked lower than Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Iceland, Germany, Taiwan, Belgium, Denmark, UK and Japan. Source: https://www.cia.gov/library/pu... [cia.gov]

      NZ and/or Finland may be wonderful places to live, because they're both more than wealthy enough to more than provide for people's basic needs, and I think there's a lot more to quality of life than standard of living

      • by Macgrrl (762836)

        Um, woosh... based on the post subject line, his claim was speculative, not real world today factual.

    • by styrotech (136124)

      All they are doing is winding back the clock to what NZ primary schools were like 30+yrs ago. So no, I don't expect this will make any difference to the economy.

      But being an NZer in my 40s though, I can identify with the results of the study. My primary school was like this (bullrush was great fun) and there was next to no bullying. Then onto a strict private secondary school with endless dumb rules and punishments for everything - the bullying there was terrible.

  • When children have pent up energy they act out and vent their energy and frustrations in what few outlets there are: other children and objects. Like the old saying: idle hands make the devil's work. When children get bored they get destructive (bullying could be considered destructive as well). Anyone that has kids or can still remember being a kid should already realize this.
    • "Idle hands do the devils work" was the dumb excuse for the existing plan of having recess be teacher led activities. If anything this study is contrary evidence to the principle.

  • From me it's not the lack of rules, instead it's stopping a concerted attempt to prevent the kids from having fun. Basically, adults are taught that play is bad. Whether it is kids with toy guns, video games, or anything else. Play is GOOD for you. Note, this also applies to marriage. If you don't play with your spouse, you won't stay married.
    • And if you don't play at your job, you'll get fired.

    • I wouldn't say that adults are taught that play is bad, but more a combination of they forget that it's fun - they've lost their youthful spirit, if they ever had one - and/or they're lazy. I'm a relatively young grand-parent and I actively engage my grand-daughter just like I did my own son, meaning I chase her around on the playground, I tussle with her, I get on the floor and play when she wants something less energetic, and I can tell you, it's a lot of work. We both enjoy it, but it's exhausting for
  • So if there are no laws, nobody breaks the law. So now there is no bullying, just a lot of kids playing sadistic and reluctant masochist games.
    • by sjames (1099)

      More like if there aren't a zillion petty laws, less people break the ones that really matter.

  • There is nothing radical here. Basically -- as most people who have kids or spend any time around kids today know -- schools and parents are incredibly overprotective of kids. They worry about any little possible injury or harm to self-esteem or whatever.

    It sounds like these schools had banished so many supposedly "dangerous" activities from playtime that the kids had nothing to do. So -- surprise -- they got into trouble! They beat up other kids, misbehaved in various ways, etc. Because they were BO

    • by PRMan (959735)
      There are no lawsuits for personal injury in New Zealand. One of the benefits of a really good nationalized health care system.
      • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @12:50PM (#46092155)

        There are no lawsuits for personal injury in New Zealand.

        Yes -- you're right. I forgot about that quirk in tort law there.

        One of the benefits of a really good nationalized health care system.

        Umm, not really. Have a look here [healthaffairs.org] for some historical perspective:

        New Zealand's compensation system arose not in response to concerns about medical malpractice but through farsighted workers' compensation reforms. A Royal Commission, established in 1967, concluded that accident victims needed a secure source of financial support when deprived of their capacity to work.

        Until 1992, when medical terminology in the act was clarified so it was clear that medical accidents were covered, claims for medical injuries were very few. (The article I linked notes that, historically, only 0.05% of claims for personal injury were related to health care on average.)

        So, no -- this "benefit" came out of a desire to provide compensation to people who were the victims of accidents in general, and particularly out of compensation for workers. (I have nothing against nationalized health care, by the way -- and I think it can be a very good idea. But it is not the reason why personal injury torts are prohibited.)

      • by Cimexus (1355033)

        While your statement is true, it has little to do with nationalized health care, per se. It's to do with the ACC [acc.co.nz], which is a body that is quite unique to New Zealand. And a great idea, if you ask me.

        Plenty of places (virtually all other developed countries, the notable exception being the USA) have nationalized health care. But many/most of those still have lawsuits for personal injury, nonetheless.

  • I have a child which has a mental handicap (he needs more time to learn what a child does in 1 day, he does it in 2 or couple more days). On top of that he had a hearing problem and he's hyperactive at the same time. Yup i got the whole package.

    I go with pure logic here. I try to keep him busy all the time. Supervised or not that's not important but it does have a certain priority of course depending on how you know your child (could be 12 kids in a room instead of your own). If I don't keep him busy or let

  • From my experience with children in childcare settings, they need a combination of structured and unstructured play. Most children seem to do well with unstructured play for limited durations. This is usually between half an hour and an hour, depending upon the children involved. If the duration becomes too long, then you start running into issues with boredom. That's when structured play should enter the picture. Not only does it reduce immediate conflicts, but it also gives them ideas for those unstr

  • This wouldn't work in the U.S. While the article says they tossed out all the rules, I think more likely they just let kids be kids. But here in the U.S. the school and the teachers would be screwed if a kid got hurt even in the slightest falling from a tree. So, here they do stuff to avoid blame for anything (with the associated lawsuit), even if it's not better for the kids in the long run.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Basically, if you let kids self-determine what to do, they don't try to regain a feeling of power by forcing their will on others. Don't make kids bridle against authority, and they won't.

    CAPTCHA: quarrels

  • Many children misbehave when you force them to follow rules outside of the non aggression principle. From my experience, it's like a Chinese finger trap, the more you try to control them, the more they do the opposite of what you want. Coercion works for some children early on but rebellious behaviour eventually surfaces, usually in their teens which is when some parents have difficulty.

    My most valuable lesson as a parent is don't control you children. Guide them. If they don't please you with their choices

    • by jittles (1613415)

      Many children misbehave when you force them to follow rules outside of the non aggression principle. From my experience, it's like a Chinese finger trap, the more you try to control them, the more they do the opposite of what you want. Coercion works for some children early on but rebellious behaviour eventually surfaces, usually in their teens which is when some parents have difficulty.

      My most valuable lesson as a parent is don't control you children. Guide them. If they don't please you with their choices, don't punish them, it's ineffective and it will make them resent you.

      So what do you do when they don't do their chores? Or their homework? Or they beat up their little sibling?

      • by Flammon (4726)

        I follow the non aggression principle [wikipedia.org].

        Chores: No punishment but I will show them that if they help me, I'll help them. Next time they ask for a ride to their friend's house, I might be too busy for example because I need to do the chores that they didn't do.
        Homework: No punishment. I will try to find out why they aren't doing their homework, encourage them and show them that education will make their lives much easier later in life.
        Beat up their sibling: I'll physically defend the sibling but there will be

        • by jhumkey (711391)
          Coercion is immoral WHEN DEALING WITH AN ADULT.

          Children aren't adults. They can't reason like adults.
          They're unfinished adults in training.
          Swatting an adult on the butt because they started to dart out into traffic . . . would offend most people.
          Swatting a child on the butt because they did the same . . . might just keep them alive long enough to be an adult one day themselves. Because you won't always be there to save them.

          You may be right . . . swatting the child on the butt to enforce a lesson m
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Children are actually a lot like dogs and can be disciplined in very similar ways. And much as it does no good to swat a dog, young children (of the age we often think is appropriate for spanking) just don't understand why you're swatting their behind. They are incapable of making the connection. If your child starts to dart out into traffic, you have to stop them. But once you do, there's no sense in swatting them. There are far more effective ways of retaining control of your kids (like holding hands

          • by Flammon (4726)

            Coercion is immoral WHEN DEALING WITH AN ADULT.

            Age doesn't change the immorality of coercion.

            Children aren't adults. They can't reason like adults.
            They're unfinished adults in training.
            Swatting an adult on the butt because they started to dart out into traffic . . . would offend most people.
            Swatting a child on the butt because they did the same . . . might just keep them alive long enough to be an adult one day themselves. Because you won't always be there to save them.

            Show me evidence that swatting a child will stop them from darting out into traffic. I can tell you from experience that something very interesting happens when you do this. The child loses your trust and your ability to influence them diminishes. Do you trust anyone that hits you?

            Children have unfinished brains and have difficulty seeing dangers so they have to rely on someone that they can trust. If you want your child to do what you ask, build trust, don't de

        • by operagost (62405)

          What do you do when they refuse to eat, then cry that they're starving when you're out in public?

          What do you do when they refuse to use the bathroom, then pee themselves in public?

          What do you do when they assault other people, especially other kids?

          What do you do when they dart into traffic? Hang out an open window on the second floor? Play with matches? Play with knives? Torture animals? Steal?

          I can guarantee you your lax homework policy will not fly with teachers or administrators-- and rightfully so

          • Having raised a child to adulthood without any sort of hitting*, my experience is that expecting the child to live up to set expectations, which are monitored, can work.

            *Grabbing him on certain occasions was necessary, as when he pushed the dinette chair (swivel rocker on castors) over to a counter so he could climb on the arm to get to the sharp knives. That's when a parent finds out that he or she can move extremely fast indeed.

  • ...less structure generally improves EVERYONE's behavior.*

    *After the assholes get beaten to a pulp, and everyone settles down.

  • Think about it. Bullying is learned behaviour. It's something that some children learn and some don't (for a variety of complex reasons). Who do they learn it from? Possibly parents and siblings... but then bullying is a systemic issue, not just a few isolated incidences. Where is systematic bullying by adults in front of children most prevalent? In schools, of course. Children get bullied... sorry, "disciplined"... by teachers and caregivers and some children (not all, because there are other complex facto

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