Bringing up a child in this day and age is incredibly complex. On one hand, today’s parents who have been raised by a firm no-nonsense attitude innately believe these values to be essential. On the other hand, more progressive and holistic schools of thought provide research and rhetoric to convince the public that parenting must evolve, and ‘regressive’ methods can end up harming the child. Therefore, it is important to find the balance when disciplining your child. This will foster the right kind of intended communication that is clearly defined, yet does not leave a scar on the child’s mind.
1. Rethink ‘timeouts’
By punishing a child with a ‘timeout’ for the smallest of mistakes is affirming that he/she can immediately be pulled out of the relationship. While parents may be convinced that they are giving the child a moment to rethink their behaviour calmly, it is exactly the opposite. The child may end up believing that he will only ‘regain access’ to his family by blindly following orders. This can compromise a child’s ability to develop self-control.
instead, let them know that you will love them no matter what, yet will need to be firm simultaneously. By trusting your judgement and your care, they will be better aligned towards your intentions and values.
2. Be cautious about the threats and punishment you dole out
If the result for the smallest of mistakes is violence, then what are you teaching your children? While discipline involves some level of punishment, it must be measured, and not brutal, but only intending to bring about reform. It also must be tempered with the frank and open discussion. Instead, if you undermine their trust by terrifying them into submission, you are killing their ability to be curious and exploratory of the world around them.
3. Stop ‘rewarding’ behaviour that you approve of
While we as adults may see rewards as an affirmation of our values, children have simpler minds and immediately see them as a bribe. By taking away what they enjoy the moment you don’t agree with their actions, you are undermining their trust, and making them feel insecure. It is another matter to have enjoyable experiences, or buy them things they enjoy and love – but do not link them specifically to good behaviour. It is far more long-reaching to reward their good behaviour with a verbal affirmation.
4. Stop demanding apologies
Bad behaviour too can be addressed with disappointment – which can have a stronger impact when they have your trust. Through this, you can help them develop a conscience of right and wrong. Let them come to their own conclusion, and regret their actions in the form of an apology. For this, they must start feeling empathy. However, you also must show the feeling of empathy in your own personal relationships, as they will absorb it much faster.
5. Set clear boundaries.
Be clear about where and when they are right or wrong. Without giving them a specific structure to mentally adhere to, you are leaving them terrified about saying or doing the wrong thing. It is normal for kids to make bold mistakes, but acceptable behaviour must be a part of their mental narrative to keep themselves, and others safe.
We often do not realise how fortunate our children are, to have concerned parents who seek to adopt better parenting techniques. Tens of thousands of children wander India’s streets or are employed in cruel child labour, exposed to only harshness and violence. Give donation if you feel concerned by their plight, but this is not enough. As a concerned citizen, you must also vocally support the initiatives of India’s civil society’s child rights leaders like Bal Raksha Bharat. When you support an NGO engaged in this noble mission, you are helping usher in a better era of change.