Wednesday, April 8, 2009

13) Disciplining - Some Guidelines

"Disciplining without freedom is tyranny. Freedom without discipline is chaos."
Cullen Hightower

It is important that children understand the difference between license and freedom.
License is behaving without restraint, causing self and others harm. Freedom is controlled behavior; behaving with responsibility and accountability. There are boundaries that cannot be crossed. Since disciplining, or reining in improper conduct, is a risky business, following a few guidelines makes sense.

1) Disciplining should not proceed from anger, but spring only from love - genuinely
wanting the child to improve; and ensuring that the level of disciplining and the
degree of the offense match.
2) Set norms and warn the children that if those norms are breached, disciplining
would follow. Exercise caution in setting standards. They should not be
"impossible" for children to achieve; their ages, gender and fitness of body and
mind should be considered. Also, no setting of flexible norms for the 'pet' and
rigid ones for the others.
3) Disciplining after the breach should be immediate, either by dad or mum. For a
lapse on Monday to discipline the child on Saturday is unfair. Also, dumping dad
with the unpleasant task, makes him the villain. Mum cannot shrewdly escape
disciplining children.
4) Disciplining should be linked to a specific action of the child. "You behaved
badly in school. Your teacher sent us a note. That calls for some disciplining."
5) Every time a particular rule is broken, the same level of disciplining should
follow; if disciplining is called for, at all. Minor lapses should be treated as
aberrations, unless the child willfully repeats such actions. Grave lapses should
be dealt with sternly.
6) Empty threats don't work. "If you lie again, you will be disciplined." Those words
should be meant. If not the child will ignore such threats and parents will lose
7) Playing favorites is out. If the daughter is disciplined, so will the son. If
No.1 is disciplined, so will No.3.
8) Trying to discipline the child from his perspective makes a big difference. A
father who is amused when his little son tears up an old newspaper, should not rap
him when he tears up today's paper. The little fellow gets confusing signals.
9) After disciplining the child, explain to him why it had to be done, and cuddle
him. He should not go to bed with rebellious thoughts.
10)Prefer the term 'disciplining' to 'punishment'.

1 comment:

  1. Disciplining is, arguably, the most difficult and also one of the most crucial aspects of parenting. The first point you have made, I think, is extremely significant. Most parents I have seen up-close punish out of anger. They tolerate and tolerate with weak or no correction and finally explode in a fit of rage. They now think the correction is done and is by now well deserved. The fact is that correction should have been made at he first instance and not allowed. The fact is the so called correction was nothing more than a violent reaction from a frustrated adult to a helpless child. Often abuse begins in and finds its 'justification' in correction. It's a fine line, and many people cross over again and again. With the result there is often illogical over compensation, feelings of guilt, sudden lapses in the basic standards set for the child. True correction, without emotional swings, is a thing parents achieve rarely. And yet it is perhaps the most important point at the foundation of correction. It represents the true drive for the action. If the driving force is wrong (expression of anger instead of correction) the whole affair becomes not only highly questionable, but simply outrageous and unacceptable. Children are better than us, in every way. I hope all of us parents reading this learn from this first and most basic point in the message on discipline. How clean are we really when we take a hard look at ourselves?