Parenting - on discipline

Parenting Hottest Topic -Discipline

by Aigul Aubanova on January 15, 2008

in It's All About Dignity

One day a friend of mine, a father of four children, asked me, “What do you think of disciplining children?”

“What do you mean exactly?”

“How would you discipline a six years old child if he takes things from a neighbor’s home without asking permission?”

“May I ask you first, ‘What are you afraid when your child does this?’ ”

“That he would get used to it, that he would not know that this is wrong.  I tell him about that but he doesn’t seem to learn.  I think if he is told once, or twice, and still continues his misbehavior, then he must be disciplined. Therefore I am concerned how to discipline the child so that my actions would not touch his personality, and he would know that I still love him.”

“So, you care about the child’s feelings and don’t want them to be hurt.  However, the disciplinary actions, one way or another, do touch the child’s feelings.  And you want me to tell you if I know how to discipline a child without encroaching upon the child’s dignity.”

“Yes, I do.  “

“According to the dictionary one of the meanings of the word discipline is ‘a strict control to enforce obedience.’  In this case there is no such action of disciplining, which doesn’t encroach upon a child’s dignity.  So, in this case you would definitely lower your child’s self-esteem, even though you want him to know that you still love him.  Your words of love wouldn’t persuade him, no matter how mildly you would try to discipline him.”

“So, what do you suggest, not teaching him at all?  Let him do whatever he wants?”

“I only said that in this circumstance you, as a parent, would not persuade your child about your love just by saying so and yet so-called disciplining him.  As for your questions, I want to ask you again, What are you afraid?  Your answer says that you may admit that your child may get used to stealing and in the future become shoplifter, or thief.  Ask yourself, do you really believe this?  Then ask yourself, did your own dad believe that you might become a thief?  If your dad did, what did you feel about that?  By asking this I would like you to pay greater attention not on the child’s actions but on your own beliefs about him, your own parental faith.  If your faith in him is firm: ‘My child will never become a thief. Why? Because he is my child!’ then everything will be fine with your child.  If you have doubts and by implementing special disciplinary measurements you would only prove your doubts about your child, you may expect what you are afraid of.  The contradiction between disciplining and “still loving” is never avoided.  Those who try to hide the contradiction, they lie to themselves.

“But, what do I do?  I can’t close my eyes to my child’s taking things from other people’s homes.”

“Right, you must act somehow when you notice the fact.  However, nobody can help you with advice about what you have to tell your son exactly, if you notice the stealing.  It depends on many different factors.  But whatever happens to your child you must think first of your beliefs.  The way you believe in your child will make a great difference in his behavior.  Your child may behave wrong by accident, by not knowing, or he might seek revenge, on purpose, so as to prove to you that he doesn’t want to obey your words.  Sometimes children even test their parents: what will happen if I don’t obey?  This is the hardest test for parents.  Parents must act and prove their kindness and justice to their children.  No matter how old children are they all are able to feel kindness and justice in response to parents’.  That is what is needed.

“You didn’t answer my question.  I know I must be kind and just, but what should I do if my child takes things from my friend’s home?”

“Does he hide those things? “

“No, why?”

“Then he just doesn’t know that he accidentally disturbs your friend’s peace because your friend would spend lot of time trying to find the stolen things and not knowing that they had been taken by your child.  So, you may explain this to your son and offer to help improve the situation.”

“What if he hides the things he takes?”

“Then you do not notice and continue to believe that your son can never-never take other people’s things without asking.  Express your faith in your son’s honesty to other members of your family, so that your son can hear.  Continue to believe in the honesty of your child and sooner or later his internal voice will tell him that he really “can not” take other people’s things without asking.  His father’s belief will become his belief.  If, by mistake, he does take something, then that belief will cause a great sense of pain inside him, pain called conscience, which would punish him much harder than any type of parental disciplinary actions.  That internal punishment will improve his sense of internal discipline, of self-control. In this case the source of discipline will come not from the parents, but from inside him.

That is what is important in the concept of discipline.  From this point of view internal discipline is a very positive human quality.  Well disciplined people are guided not by fear of other people’s disciplinary actions but by their own conscience.  However, many parents don’t know this basic principle.”

“But, what if he hides what he has taken and I find it?”

“If you have no choice but find those things, and that is obvious, that he knew that he shouldn’t do that and he did it on purpose…”

“Then…”

“Then you have two options.  One – is to forgive him and forget.”

“Forgive?”

“Even criminals can be touched by generosity of the heart of those who forgive them.  Children – are children, they constantly make mistakes.  But remember; continue to believe in your child!”

“What is the second option?”

The second choice – follow the rules.  If in a family there are certain rules and everyone follows them then your child must follow the rules too.  It is fair and it doesn’t hurt his dignity.  If children do wrong things on purpose, they want to see how it feels when they deserve punishment.  Here are methods that you know: deprive your child from something very nice, no movies, no pleasures, etc.  Do something painful, even spanking is fine if a child feels he deserves it.  But more painful is moral pain, when the child learns that he caused his beloved to be hurt.  Sometimes, the punishment itself is the realization that a parent is greatly upset.  This may be the best punishment for a child to prove to himself not to repeat the misbehavior.  His internal discipline would develop and it calls conscientiousness.”

“So, I must remember three things: faith, kindness and justice, if I want to raise a conscientious child with high self-esteem.”

By A.Aubanova

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