Parents come in a wide range of spectrum. Some of them get terrible upset when their child shows mild misbehavior, some parents don’t seem to mind even when their kids run wild and amok. Most parents try to settle for something in between. Before I begin this article, I confess that I am neither a perfect mom, nor I have a perfect child. I am one of those parents trying to settle for the ‘in-between’.
Most parents, especially new-age parents have trouble with ‘disciplining’ their kids. As the generations have progressed, we have gone from “Do not hit your kids” to “Yelling is equal to spanking”. So, now, it poses a challenge. You can’t yell at your kids, because ‘yelling is the new spanking’ and of course you can’t hit your kids, because that is going to ‘traumatize’ them. But then, there is this age old saying of “Spare the rod and spoil the child”. I am pretty sure that all of our grandparents, most of our parents and even a few of us have been yelled at a lot and some of us have even been spanked a few times. So, there should be many traumatized people roaming the earth. Well, that’s not the case either. So, how do the new age parents find the right balance in disciplining?
It is okay to be strict with your child. An occasional increase in the tone of your voice is required to get your child to respect you a little. It doesn’t mean that you have to yell at your kids constantly. A stern voice expressing your unhappiness is required to get your child to listen to you.
Being firm doesn’t mean hitting your kid. Getting physical or hitting your child is not good. However, there are moments when you will have to firmly hold your child’s hands and stare into his or her eyes to get him or her to focus. This is neither going to harm nor going to traumatize your child.
Analyze the behavior together, but not when the child is in a bad mood. When your child is in a good mood, reference her to the past bad behavior and patiently ask her why she behaved the way she did. This doesn’t mean taking her on a guilt trip. This just means that you are trying to get her to open up and analyze the situation with you. Many new-age parents do this, but just choose the wrong time. We try to do it when the incident is happening, when the child is already in a bad mood.
It is important to reprimand or punish bad behavior. Punishment doesn’t mean that you have to hit your child, or lock him up, or yell at him till a big cloud of fear engulfs him. Punishment can be as simple as taking away his most loved possession, restricting his activity time, preventing him from playing with his friends and so on. Some kids throw tantrums at punishments. Parents need to ensure that tantrums get more punishment thrown at kids. Eventually, they will get the message. The biggest problem is parents give into tantrums and bad behavior. Children should never be allowed to get away with bad behavior.
Respect your child and get her to respect you. Do not tolerate disrespect. Disrespect leads to indiscipline. If your child disrespects you, be very firm in telling her that this is disrespect, and disrespect will not be tolerated. Do not disrespect your child either. Do not call her names; do not use language that makes her feel small. But, use a firm voice in telling her what respect and disrespect are. It is important, as a parent, not to disrespect anyone in front of your child. Your child looks at you and learns.
Make a list of good and bad behavior. Get your child to make a list of things that come under good behavior and things that come under bad behavior. Have two jars and a few pebbles. Have him add a pebble in the jar, each time he exhibits good or bad behavior. Children have a healthy competitive nature and they always try to fill the good jar.
Show involvement in her daily life. Our world has become busy, and we do not spend as much time with kids as they deserve. Kids have loads of information they want to tell us, most of them are trivial for us. But those are really important for them. Every bad behavior the child exhibits is a result of something that happened to her during the course of the day or the week. It is a result of the bottled up emotions of one or more negative incidents that happened. When parents show involvement for 10 minutes every day in listening to what happened over the day, it is typically easier to narrow down the issue.
Tell your child you love him. While it is important to discipline your child, it is also important to tell him that you discipline him because you love him and want him to grow up to be a good person. Children should know that disciplining is the result of love and not the result of hate or anger.
Bottomline: It is okay to be strict, it is ok to reprimand, it is ok to be stern, it is okay to tell your child you are upset with his/her behavior. This will not traumatize your child. This will help teach your child to learn, to respect and to behave better.
P.S: The above ways of disciplining is important and work with most kids. But there are special kids, who are particularly difficult to discipline. Look forward to my article on dealing with behavioral issues for kids with special needs and kids with anxiety issues.`