To elicit good behavior in children, I see caregivers threaten to call the police. This asinine, counter-intuitive hyperbole can only backfire.
This belligerent, ignorant rally to obey has roots in the right idea. The authority figure has willingly forfeited their own position of command and wields the specter of law enforcement. The child’s will has broken the elder and violated some mysterious law. The situation has been escalated.
There is nothing left but punishment and that’s what the police are for. That’s the message.
Police sacrifice their selves for safety and guidance. They provide instruction and punishment. The role of police is as multifaceted as any child’s temperament. Daft and shallow grown-ups base a child’s portrait on one tantrum. The same sort of adult would paint, for a child, police, picking only the grimmest quality.
2016’s vivid and horrible stories and images of police brutality stayed a long time with people, challenging their trust of authority. It’s difficult to see a prejudice. Despite so few having firsthand knowledge of police involved, trust is lost just the same. Some adults spread that mistrust to all police and reinforce it among children. It’s the worst kind of prejudice.
Lost children bind communities. Search parties organized around the task may include police and be races against time. Generally, children don’t want to disappoint and encouraging the sight of police to mean someone is angry or has given up means the child won’t know to exploit positive qualities of police. The child will more likely hide.
Take full command of a child in both praise and punishment. Respect other adults in front of children. Make a Trust Word so children know when to trust other grown-ups. Letting prejudice jeopardize anyone’s safety is the ugliest way to live.