It is important to discipline children so that they grow-up as well
mannered individuals and follow the right path in their lives. Read on to know
how to discipline children in a constructive manner.
The need for discipline
When children are born, they are like blank slates on which their parents' help to script the beginnings of the stories of their lives. Every child grows up and ultimately charts his own destiny, but his parents lay the foundation. And everybody knows the consequences of building on a weak foundation. Disciplining your children is one way of setting them on the right path and equipping them to wing it on their own.
a child is comparable to walking a tightrope. Parents have to maintain
a delicate balance between over-indulgence and authoritarianism. However,
parents often do not perceive discipline as being such a delicate business. For most parents, discipline operates on a simple principle. If the child does not meet the standards of 'good' behaviour set by the parents, he
must be disciplined. This is one way of looking at it. The child that does
not tidy his room or one that throws a tantrum, or one that talks back
to his parents-all of them must be disciplined. But these are short-term
goals that shift from situation to situation. Disciplining is not only
about showing your child who's the boss. This is a very shortsighted approach.
In general, people do not react favourably to criticism and children are
no different. If a child is frequently criticized by a person whose opinion
he values (in this case the parent), he may lose confidence in his judgement
and actions. So parents have to realize that discipline is about more than
getting your child to clean up his room or controlling a tantrum.
In the long
run, disciplining your child is aimed at teaching him to internalize the
standards of behaviour so that he can be the judge of his own behaviour
and realize what is acceptable and what is not. Parents have to teach their
children what is good as well as what is bad. Therefore, disciplinedoes
not merely involve correcting their mistakes, but also showing them the
right thing to do. Thus disciplinedoes not have to be just a negative
process, but with constructive criticism it can become a positive experience.
Parents want to discipline their children in such a way that their children
don't view them as the enemy and understand that disciplining stems from
love and concern. Parents also want to raise children who understand the
consequences of their actions and take responsibility for them.
Styles of discipline
different styles of discipline. Some adopt a Hitlerian attitude - the authoritarian
approach. These parents convey the message that their word is law. This
approach does not encourage questions or feel the need for justification.
While on the surface, this approach may seem highly effective, the fact
is that it encourages blind obedience. Children obey their parents' orders
out of fear and without really understanding why they are forbidden to
do certain things or have to do other things.
At the other
extreme you have the permissive parents who operate on the premise that
a child is a rational, sensible human being and should be treated as such.
These parents encourage their children to participate fully in any decisions
involving their actions and other things that affect them. These parents
do not issue orders, but encourage discussion. While such parents have
all good intentions, they do not make very good disciplinarians. The fact
remains that children cannot be treated as equals, because they are not.
They need the advice and guidance of their parents. Parents who follow
this style of discipline actually fail to provide guidance to their children
in that they do not set any standards for them. They expect their children
to judge their own actions when they are not qualified to make such judgements.
parent is one that has probably achieved the balance required on the tightrope
of discipline. This parent lays down the rules, but explains the reasons
behind these rules. Their children thus understand why they should obey
their parents. These parents tell their children that they must do this
or that not merely because they say so, but for a specific reason. The
children thus establish the connection between their actions and their
consequences and build a solid foundation on which they can base their
future judgements. Such parenting also makes the children feel that their
parents respect their feelings because they bother to explain and justify
the rules and regulations that they impose on their children.
The key to
success is for parents to establish their authority over children without
putting them on the offensive and getting into a power struggle. Children,
just like other people, do not react well to taking orders. The instinct
is to rebel and the parents' automatic reaction is to exert further pressure
and bend them to their will. This can degenerate into a losing battle with
both sides feeling angry and humiliated. The children must get the message
that discipline stems from caring and is for their own good.
children can drive their parents to distraction with their naughtiness
and disobedience. On such occasions, parents may see no other option but
to give their children a good spanking or a strict dressing down. While
this does not cause serious damage if it is a rare occurrence, it has been
observed that children whose parents discipline them by hitting, nagging,
or shouting at them on a regular basis, have a tendency to be more violent
and aggressive than other children who are disciplined through other means.
thing that parents should keep in mind is that when they rebuke their children,
they should make them understand that it is a specific behaviour that is
under criticism and not the child himself. The child must feel that he
is not a bad person, but that he has not behaved correctly in a particular
There is no
point laying down rules if parents do not enforce them. This means that
children must be punished every time they break the rules laid down by
their parents. However, punishment should not be used as a personal vendetta
against the child for disappointing or disobeying the parents. It should
also not be aimed at making the child feel guilty or bad. Punishment should
be aimed at making children understand the consequences of their actions
and to take responsibility for their actions.
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- The Indiaparenting Team