‘Discipline’ is one topic that is close to every parent’s heart. We all are always looking for a magic formula to ‘discipline’ our children, but do we understand what ‘discipline’ really means? In what areas do we need to discipline our children? What are realistic expectations from children?
BeingMomma facilitated an interactive session of parents with children in the age-group of 0-5 years where education consultants Soniya Lalla and Nandita Jhaveri addressed the topic of disciplining kids in a healthy manner as well as strategies of implementing the same.
The Basics of Discipline
When we try to understand what discipline really is and how much and where it is required, the first premise that we have to know is that children are intrinsically honest and do have their own sense of right and wrong and a sense of fairness which can be observed in kids as young as 3 years of age. OUR JOB AS PARENTS IS TO NURTURE THIS.
Discipline in our lives as children or as adults is surely required, however the extent is to be debated. Should discipline be intrinsic or extrinsic is another question we should ask ourselves. The idea is to bring about discipline in the necessary areas without restricting their natural growth and instincts.
Saying too many NO s –as a result restricting their exploration is one extreme and being afraid of your child’s reactions and therefore being totally permissive is another extreme and both these are to be avoided.
Children observe adults around them closely and take to their mannerisms which means significant adults have to be aware of their own responses all the time
The Necessary Areas of Discipline
Children should be prevented from any actions which:
- Can cause harm to himself
- Can cause harm to others
- Can cause harm to property
- Is against his broad routine. For example, if his bed-time is 9pm , you can’t allow him to stay up till midnight but you can give a small leeway. Remember they are your children, not robots.
When Does Discipline Begin?
Discipline begins when the child observes the reactions of significant adults (parents etc) around him to his actions and continues when parents find the need to draw boundaries.
What is important is to distinguish between parents expectation such as how they should talk, respond, behave, succeed, conduct themselves as against their inner, natural needs. This also means that at every stage we have to introspect and look within to distinguish between adult expectation and their natural growing up.
What is healthy discipline?
One begins by having minimum occasions for saying “No”
Healthy discipline requires open discussion, explanation for the ” No” and alternatives for the same. The alternative is given from an understanding of the specific need of the moment. This also means giving them enough time to assimilate and understand their boundary. They may try and assert but its best to stick to the NOs and YES decided by you
The Concept of Self Discipline
Children inherently have the inner sense of discipline. What we need to do as adults is to trust them and be patient. They understand the emotions of sensitivity, care and affection. They have the capability of understanding when explained. We as parents have to be compassionate and explain and give them a chance to exercise self-discipline in non-harmful situations. The idea to limit parental intervention wherever possible. A child can manage on his own. The child’s decision may not be the ‘best’ but it is a good idea to let him take ownership of his decision and then face its repercussions.
10 Strategies for Effective Implementation
- It’s important for parents to understand their need for the boundary.
- Nos have to be minimized.
- Explanations and alternatives are essential.
- Parents should not change their mind due to the child’s strong reaction, pressure or tantrum.
- Children understand best through stories. Create small stories and give subtle examples.
- Do not become a victim of children’s outbursts. Parents should not be afraid of children’s outbursts and should give them enough time to accept reality.
- Unspoken communication and positive vocabulary does wonders. Eg. ‘I love you but I cannot let you do this’
- Facial expressions, vocabulary, tone of speech and body language are important to convey ones point.
- Appreciate the right things that they do, rather than always correcting mistakes. Positive comments do wonders.
- Humour is something that we tend to forget and something that children love. It’s a great way to communicate a lot of things to them.
Handling Situations with Mixed Signals from Significant Adults
This is an issue faced in most joint-family households. All the significant adults in the house have to come to a common consensus for effective disciplining methods including the staff members. The grand parents may have to be talked to gently and be convinced. However the mother plays the most significant role in child rearing so her say matters the most.
The Role of Punishment and Reward System in Disciplining Children
When children are punished, they are absolved of their misdeed rather than giving them a chance to introspect and modify their action or attitude from an understanding how it affects another correct themselves and introspect. It has been observed that children who are punished often repeat the behavior. Besides, punishment also gives them a sense of failure and inadequacy. Hence punishment is not recommended for disciplining children.
The reward system, which includes stars, smileys, treats, gifts etc, too works in a similar manner. It creates one up-manship for adults where they dictate who needs to be rewarded. Those who are not rewarded feel a sense of failure. This leads to competition and want of approval from adults at every level. Children often work only for rewards rather than being engaged in the learning experience. Although the reward system may work in the short-term, it has severe repercussions in the long-run.
Rather than asking others for advice regarding your children, its best to trust your own instincts as you know what’s best for them since you are the one observing them all the time. And most importantly, PATIENCE and TRUST are the keywords for healthy disciplining.
This is a synopsis of a parenting workshop facilitated by Being Momma. It was conducted by Nandita Jhaveri and Soniya Lalla, past Head-Teachers at Saifee Nursery at Malabar Hill, Mumbai for 18 and 12 years respectively. Nandita has also been the Vice Principal of New Era School, Mumbai for 12 years.
They have gotten together and started a consultancy – ‘Resonances’. You can check out their activities and get more information about them at their Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/resonances.in
They are the education consultants and brains behind By The Sea Nursery and Pathfinders Nursery in Mumbai.