"Disciplining without freedom is tyranny. Freedom without discipline is chaos."
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
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'.