How Do You Discipline Your Child? What Works For You?
Discipline – A Misunderstood Concept
I often find myself analysing from two outwardly different perspectives, essentially when it comes to discipline. That of a parent and one that comes from an individual who works closely in the education space. I will gladly admit that working around children and educators has made me a more patient mother but ever heard the line, “Easier said than done?” Like most parents, my dilemmas and debates continue when the discussion involves ‘Discipline’.
I have been blessed to have interacted with many wonderful educators over the years, who have shared some amazingly simple experiences with me, which have helped me gain a clearer perspective. There has been plenty to reflect upon, with no easy answers but honestly, finding a path that works for you as a family is perhaps the key to harmony.
The world around us is changing at a lightning speed and it is near impossible to predict what the world would be like, in 10 years from now. Therefore it is more important than ever before for us to equip our children with qualities that will make them adapt to a future without borders and to understand discipline with a long term perspective.
I strongly believe that ‘Parenting’ in the modern age is tougher than yesteryears. We as parents are influenced, conflicted and let us also be kind to ourselves and add here, that we are learning. It is most definitely one of the toughest journeys ever and perhaps also the most rewarding one too.
Let’s First Take A Closer Look At The Concept Of ‘Discipline’-
A very senior educator once spoke to me about understanding the concept of discipline and this chat which started as an informal conversation, perhaps has had a strong impact on my style of parenting.
She told me to take a relook at my understanding of the word discipline. Disciplining is not equal to punishment, it is instead helping our children inculcate values and positive behaviour traits which become part of their personalities. It must never be a result of ‘misbehaviour’. The goal of discipline isn’t short-sighted – it isn’t specific to one problem area.
Disciplining a child is sadly often looked at as a tool to tackle misbehaviour. This I believe needs to change immediately. Discipline must become a way of life, it cannot become a tool which is used when a child is defiant (according to our parents) or in order to let’s say, receive obedience.
Ask yourself this… in a perfect world, think of 3 qualities that you would want your child to inculcate and now take a relook at the goal of discipline…
What works for our family is the firm belief that our job, is to equip our child with life skills such as kindness, resilience, and perseverance, which are essential to becoming a good human being. And therefore a discipline strategy that has worked for us so far is ….
Breaking Down The Discipline Strategy
Now, as we relook at our goals, let us also relook at how we approach the said goal. The question to ask ourselves as parents are…
Will shouting at my child help him become a kinder human being?
• Or let’s Try Perseverance:
Will losing to my child in a board game, in order to encourage or rather to avoid a crying fit, make him/her perseverant??
Will making all the decisions for the child or saying because I say so… Help build resilience in my child??
And so on….
If The Answer Is NO… Then Perhaps Our Approach To Parenting Is Similar And I Feel Encouraged To Share A Few Of My Learnings With You ….
• Appreciate the effort more than the end results, the hard work put into completing the task is what you should be proud of.
• Allow them to struggle. As parents, it is our natural instinct to intervene and fix things for our little ones. But allowing them to fail, while being around to provide encouragement and support is extremely important. Losing gracefully or facing a few hardships is essential.
• Allow them to make small decisions and allow them to face the consequence of those decisions. This helps children develop confidence as well as responsibility. It allows them the opportunity to learn to make the right choices in life.
• Understand that children do not belong to anyone. They are individuals and it is not necessary for them to fit into a box to please adults. Let them a question, do not shut them down by simply telling them to respect elders or by saying – do as you are told. Understand that they are not trying to be disrespectful, help them understand why you are asking them to do a certain thing or why are you asking them ‘Not’ to do something.
• And the last one – Listen to your child … They teach us far more than any parenting article can ever teach you. Allow yourself to learn as a parent, do not let the dogma of “I am the adult and must behave like one by setting the rules “stress you out. Allow the simple curiosity of a child to become your guide.
Let them know they are loved unconditionally. Give them a strong foundation to come back to, but do not ground them. Allow them to fly, as Robert Brault once aptly said: “It is one thing to show your child the way, and a harder thing to then stand out of it.”
Written by: Mrinal Gadhvi Charan