Note: "Russell's Ken-Bun-Ki" is a series of articles I wrote for my Japanese City Hall newsletter back in 1996-97. They were articles about life in America or life in Japan as experienced by an American. This one is from January 23, 1997.
Recently, the issue of disciplining children has become a topic of conversation. Last week by coincidence I received two separate questionnaires on the topic of discipline. What do you think is the most importatnt thing about scolding? In America thera are two important pionts: Do not cause inconveniences to others, and Do your own thing by yourself.
When I am in Miyazaki City I often scold children I see playing in front of escalators at department stores. I tell them, "This is not a playground. You're in the way, please move." When I say this, the children are very surprised and move out of the way immediately. Japanese almost never scold other people's children, but Americans often say, "Behave yourself!" to their children as well as to others'. When I see children behaving badly I don't think, "They're children, so they don't know any better." I think, "They're children, so we have to teach them what's correct." Also, scolding is done according to the other person's point of view. "Doing what you're doing is causing me a lot of trouble" is said very clearly. When spoken to in this way children can understand themselves that what they are doing is wrong. Thinking to yourself, "He should be ashamed of himself!" or "I'd like to see his parents" doesn't do anybody any good. Most Americans would say that when children are running up and down the aisles at the movies or playing at the entrances at a concert that these children need to be told to behave in public. Most would also say that it is our responsibility as adults to make sure that those children know that their behavior is wrong. What do you think?