By Chew Yu Xuan, Scott Koh, Ria Sarjak Shah, and Grace Ong (Year 12 MarComm interns)
When we use the word “discipline”, do you see a child being constrained in a cage or a child being molded for success?
We certainly have been disciplined as a child, and we are sure that you have been, and have disciplined your child before. It is a common method to keep the kids in check, to let them know what is expected of them and what is not, or to put it simply, a way to train children to obey a certain set rules along with the use of punishment to correct any disobedience that they show.
Looking back now as a teen about to enter adulthood, from my perspective, we are glad that we were disciplined.
- The “set of rules” were carefully thought out by our parents/teachers before they were imposed; and were a means to ensure that we were obedient, hardworking children
- Often given clear explanations of the “rules” and the reason for the discipline, made it clear that we were just not blindly following what the adults said but understood that it was in our best interests
- The methods of punishment obviously did not involve any form of physical harm, but was more of being a way to help us understand the mistakes and learn our lessons
Woah, you may think that this is way too complicated. How can a child fully understand why you are disciplining them? Are they even capable of doing so? It is tough to find the perfect way to discipline your child, and since all children are different, the same discipline method may not work for all children.
After being disciplined as children for many years, we have developed a set of habits, from all the little things to the larger ones, that has often to be proven to be beneficial, like making sure that we don’t complete things at the eleventh hour or do/say any unkind things that will hurt people around us. Therefore, we believe that disciplining when done right and for the correct reasons, can help your child go a long way and impact them positively in the long run, shaping them to be a successful person in the future.
While we are not parents, or are unable to give you detailed instructions on how to discipline your child the right way, allow us to share with you, from a child’s perspective and from our own personal experiences, on some ways of disciplining that we believe are beneficial.
Young minds are easily impressionable and they learn by watching what their parents do. Their minds are wide open to both, learning and being shaped by outside factors and their surroundings. As many say, children are a reflection of their parents. Children subconsciously follow their parents who they see as a powerful role model for them.
For example, if parents want their children to sit and eat dinner as a family without any electronic devices, parents have this chance to demonstrate and show this. Parents must use this opportunity as a positive way to discipline their child in the form of observational learning, combined with the further disciplining methods listed below.
Every parent wants the absolute best for their child. When it comes to raising and disciplining your child, there is often a wide array of conflicting advice from relatives, friends, or the internet. Arguably one of the most controversial methods is to allow your child to make mistakes and learn from them.
Through the mistakes we make, we learn resilience as well as social and emotional skills. When we are young, with the guidance, support and reassurance from parents, we have been given safe boundaries to make mistakes, and time to learn from them. While it is not easy for parents to stand by and watch their child fail, know that we appreciate the opportunity to face our fears, overcome our challenges, and learn how to identify and avoid the pitfalls.
Some may think sparing your child from making mistakes will bring more good than harm for them, but that’s not always the case. Always telling your child what to do and what not to do, they will either grow up to be overly dependent on you or grow to dislike you and turn rebellious, especially if they are stepping into teenagehood. At this point, some parents may switch to an even stricter disciplining approach to assert authority over them. However, you would want your child to respect you, trust you, not fear you.
Sometimes, parents may focus too much on calling out and punishing the flaws and misbehaviours in their children that they forget to, from time to time, acknowledge the good behaviour that occurs as well.
Children thrive on praise and approval to feel proud and accomplished of themselves, especially from their parents. They’re who we look up to the most – our role models. Which is why when parents concentrate too much on the negatives, over time, it can make children feel discouraged, as if nothing they do will really be good enough, and they may even turn to and continue perpetuating all the bad behaviour which they know will get them attention.
It is important as parents to take notice and praise your children whenever the opportunity arises. Let them know when they’ve accomplished something well or behaved in a way that pleases you. So long as it’s praise that is truly honest and sincere, a parent’s words of encouragement and approval of their children will help to build more confidence in themselves and develop a better sense of self.
For many generations – and even still in certain cultures today – punishments, even corporal ones, have long been passed down as the primary ‘disciplinary’ response to ending undesirable behaviour. Punishments have been the main form of discipline for so long that the line between discipline and punishment has begun to fade. We often use the terms interchangeably with one another.
But the truth is that these two practices are far from being the same.
When parents punish their children as a form of retribution, in order to make them pay for their actions, it usually does not teach them how to make better choices in the future. Sure, it may stop them from continuing the same bad behaviour now – at least when you’re around, but in terms of understanding and learning from it, they may focus more on the punishment they’re getting rather than the lessons you are trying to teach, and in the end, they may not truly understand why they are being punished. It also damages the relationship you will have with your child.
The goal of discipline is to guide and teach children to understand, learn from and take responsibility for their actions. It’s one of the toughest but most important parts parents will face in their journey of raising children. But through perseverance, and probably a lot of patience on both sides, you can help to guide and develop your child into a young adult they themselves, and you, can be proud of – while maintaining a parent-child bond that is rooted firmly in love and mutual respect.