No Hit Pinatas: The Key to Raising Psychopathic Kids


pinataNeed proof that today's kids are being raised in a completely different world from the one we grew up in? I bring you exhibit A: the no-hit pinata. Aka, the dumbest thing I've heard of in a long while.

Let's get this straight. I grew up in the country, where the neighbor kid and I would disappear for hours at a time to wander through the woods, picking up sticks which inevitably become "guns" and "swords." We got out our aggression the old fashioned way: by beating on trees and running ourselves ragged. Neither of us grew up to become serial killers.

That was the eighties. This is 2011. When parents are so afraid their kids might shed an ounce of energy in a slightly "negative" way that we have taken a centuries old tradition and turned it on its ear.

The new pinatas are still papier mache covered in colorful bits of tissue paper. But instead of beating on them with a stick to get the candy out, the kids pull a string, and voila . . . everything just falls out. There's no skill involved. No energy expended. No FUN!

And yet, we're warned at every turn that we're not just encouraging violence with a pinata, we're rewarding it with loads of candy and bitty dollar store toys. As blogger Valerie Bartlemus warned on Yahoo!:

Doesn't anyone slightly cringe at the thought of their child whacking Dora the Explorer or Elmo around with a baseball bat? What is that doing for a child's character? Getting a flower or car piñata is only slightly less worse

Piñatas are not a good idea for your child's party. Children should never hit anything with a stick.

Never? Are we that scared that our children might be "violent" that hitting an inanimate object with a stick is now off limits? If so, we might as well stop building anything because smacking hammer to nail is an aggressive move. And forget closing the hatch on the back of the car with a slam to get it shut. Gentle. Gentle! Who cares if the rain gets in, and the open door signal won't stop beeping.

The irony here is that this new "no violence, anytime, anywhere" approach is quite the opposite of what we were taught as kids. In the eighties, we were being encouraged to acknowledge our feelings and to "channel our aggressions." At school assemblies people came to talk to us about going outside to scream out loud or going to our rooms to yell into a pillow, encouraged us to take a stick to a tree instead of our brothers or sisters, told us not to bottle up our feelings.

In effect what we say now is that our kids can't have negative feelings. If they do, they're treated as "bad kids" rather than normal human beings with normal reactions to negative situations. They're taught that they can't beat on a piece of papier mache, lest it turn them into bunny strangling psychopaths who will one day grow up to shoot up a McDonald's. And yet studies show they're exposed to an increasing amount of violent stimuli -- from the TV news to video games. A Justice Department report in 2009 concluded more than 60 percent of children are exposed to violence, either directly or indirectly.

So how do we let them get it out? When? Where? Shouldn't it be at a fun party under the watchful eyes of responsible adults, beating on an inanimate object? Or is it better to pretend kids never have a negative feeling and let them bottle it up. . . until the neighborhood bunnies start disappearing?

Would you buy a no-hit pinata?


Image via Steve Snodgrass/Flickr

activities, behavior, discipline


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Jasmine Mitose

i got one for my DD's upcoming birthday...because she's turning ONE! haha if she was able to beat a normal pinata she'd have one, but considering that she's not going to be a one-year old hulk i figured a pull-string pinata would be a cute thing she can do herself (not to mention her party guests are of a similar age). as soon as she can beat on a normal you bet she'll have one! my siblings and cousins all had them growing up for birthday parties and no one is an overly aggressive nutjob!

nonmember avatar Katie

Bravo, Jeanne! I completely agree with you (for once) -- Hehe. This, along with similar stories and opinion pieces I've read recently, reminds me of a scene from 'Finding Nemo' (which, in my humble opinion, is full of great psychology): Marlin: "I promised I'd never let anything happen to him." Dory: "Hmmm. That's a funny thing to promise." Marlin: "What?" Dory: "Well, you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo." That pretty much says it all!

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

Never... but as a mother, I allow my kids to play with silly things like pretend swords and light sabers. :-) I say- beat the pinata! lol

Nancy Wilhelm

agreed. People ask me all the time about shows from the 80s that I honestly cannot remember because my mom wouldn't allow us inside until it was dark in the summer times, and any time it was nice out. When we got angry, she would hand us a pillow to punch, or to scream into. if that didn't work, we were allowed to beat on the punching bag dad made out of an old military issued sleeping bag and stuffing. Now it's all about "talking through the feelings" sometimes the feelings just have to come out in non-verbal ways. I didn't grow up to be a psychopath, or a bully. But I do have a punching bag hanging in the garage.

nonmember avatar Jean

These actually aren't all that new. I had seen these when I was growing up (80's-early 90's.) But I agree, they're ridiculous. We've always had pinatas at our kids' birthdays (my sisters and I have a combined total of more than 30 kids, aged newborn to mid-twenties)--the real kind. Sure, we all cringe when a three year is holding a stick taller than she is, waving it around wildly, thinking only of candy and not innocent by-standers, but never once has anyone gotten hurt. And even if they had, so what? Kids get hurt. But they remember the fun way more than the scrapes and bruises.

Knitt... KnittinMama

Give me a freakin break already. Are we raising robots or kids? I grew up an 80s country kid myself. I know its a different world out there but for gods sake. How many years of kids have been beating a pinata now? If they were all psychos we wouldnt have a population problem. All those little psychos would have us killed off by now. I think its all the people who are afraid of EVERYTHING that are the problem. Those of not afraid of living are being kinda screwed because theyre afraid of...candy falling around them?

puasa... puasaurus

A family tradition for us is pinatas. We had a pull pinata once, I think for my DD's first birthday, but ususlly we have a hit one and everyone gets a swing. I think people are getting carried away with protecting our kids from anything and everything. I think if a kid is going to grrow up to a psycho anything we, as parents, don't allow them to do isn't really going to change that. Did that make sense?

Beths... Bethsunshine

What a crock of bull!!! People REALLY need to get out of the flipping bubble they are living in and have their kids trapped in!! Generations ago, kids were allowed to take pocket knives and BB guns to school, and there was no such thing as a school shooting. Now, kids can't even have a t-shirt with a picture of a gun on it, and they're shooting up the schools and killing their parents. Something wrong with this picture?

I have 2 boys and they have light sabers in every color there is, toy guns, toy swords and a collection of pocket knives. We homeschool and they are ENCOURAGED to have these things at school!! Sheesh people, get a life!! What's next, banning baseball because you're actually HITTING THE BALL WITH A STICK?!?

PonyC... PonyChaser

This woman would absolutely implode if she witnessed my child's lifestyle. It's Star Wars and lightsabers from wake-up until bedtime. And I even pay for him to learn to fight!!! He takes martial arts lessons twice, sometimes three times a week, where - gasp!! - he and his classmates hit and kick each other!!! double gasp!!  And then he comes home, and is cuddly with me and with his dog, and he cries if a bird hits our window and I don't get out there quick enough with the "hospital box" to help it get better!

The woman who invented this is a nutcase.

Shanin22 Shanin22

This is one of my favorite posts from you, I couldn't agree more. When I was a kid, I was taught to get out my anger in an appropriate manner... throw a flip-flop, punch a punching bag, or just go run the anger out (which I still do to this day). Life is going to bring frustration and negative emotions for children as well as adult, and everyone needs to know how to deal with those emotions. Beside, hitting a pinata isn't even about anger (unless you're getting really pissed at your uncle for pulling that string so much that you can't get one hit in, lol)... they're about fun and empowerment. That great rush of feelings and strength when you get a good hit in.... like the feeling of hitting a baseball out of the diamond for the first time. I can't wait till my son's next birthday... he wants a Buzz Lightyear pinata :)

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