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The GASP Method of Child Discipline

Gasp and Watch Their Eyes

I once heard a golfing term which morphed in my mind into great advice for disciplining children. It was the acronym GASP. In the golfing world it stands for grip, aim, stance and posture. But it also applies to parents seeking to break up sibling skirmishes. Apply it to this scenario.

GRIP: You are blissfully reading the newspaper when little Penelope dashes through the room yelling in fright. Three steps behind her is her older brother Junior, who is brandishing a baseball bat over his head.

As any parent knows, grip is vital at this point. You must spring out of your chair and grip the assailant by the back of the shirt before he follows through on his intentions. You must also grip the bat.

ADDRESS: Tone of voice must sound menacing. “Junior, what in the world do you think you’re doing? Put down that bat!”

STANCE: Not only must your voice exude authority, but your stance must also. A favorite of most parents is the fists-on-hips stance, but in a pinch the arms-crossed-over-chest will work. You must look threatening.

POSTURE: This is similar to stance. A parent must pull himself/herself up to full height and seem to loom over the offender. This becomes more challenging when “Junior” stand six feet tall and Mom is only five-feet-four.

Now that the stage is set, the parent must assume the role of prosecuting attorney.

“All right, Penelope Jane, what happened?” A combination of the above, plus using middle names gives the child the impression that she had better tell the truth.

After listening to the first child’s account of the infraction, turn to the assailant and question likewise.

In some cases the stories will contradict. This is where the parent must play detective.

An article in a magazine from 2005 caught my attention. Written by Detective Robert Surgenor of Ohio, * the article tells the secret to detecting lies simply by looking at a person’s eyes.

According to Detective Surgenor, “The eyes are the window of the soul. Many of us have experienced the child who looks at the floor when asked if they have done something wrong. They are afraid you will read the deceit in their eyes. Most young children who look directly into your eyes as they answer are telling the truth. As children grow older, they learn how to hide those obvious reactions…”

He continues, “Have you ever wondered why when you ask a person a question, their eyes sometimes move sideways and up as they try to recall the memory? … Their eyes are giving you a clue about what portion of their brain they are accessing. This is extremely important when trying to determine if the person is telling you the truth or making up a story.”

“The left side of the brain contains the memory. The right side of the brain has everything to do with creativity and imagination. The connection from the eyes to the brain is reversed. You guessed it! A person’s eyes move to the right when they recall memory, and to the left when they are making up a story.”

“These techniques are not only helpful to uncover deceit; they are also very helpful in substantiating innocence. If someone accuses your child of wrongdoing, in short order you will be able to determine if the allegations are true.”

“All it takes is a little practice and effort and your children will soon start to think you can read their minds.”

Try this on your children/grandchildren and let us know how it works. I look forward to your comments.

Disclaimer: This is not an absolutely foolproof method; there are several variables. For more information check out the July 12th blog post for the Steve Laube literary agency at

From The Ohio Home School Companion, Sept/Oct. 2005, pp. 10-11.

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