Throughout my developmental psychology’s class, the one thing I constantly was reminded of while studying that course was how every “don’t” of parenting was a “must do” or “not a problem” in the parenting book adopted by the people of our country. I was bewildered at the fact that this information that is so critical to raising decent, not distorted human beings is not dispersed among the nation whose favorite hobby is to give birth and have more children. That it is restricted to only a few who are taking the course or want to research more on “how to” before just letting the winds raise their children as they may.
The majority of those “it’s okay to do so” things here in Pakistan are the disciplining strategies that are to be applied to children. Children are impressionable minds and can pick up on any of the things you are modeling for them. Hitting the child, for example, is reasonable in every household, once they don’t listen to the very comforting words shouted at them every now and then here in Pakistan. We forget that while we are hitting the child we are modeling the violence in front of that child, we are dealing with misconduct by misconduct, telling him/her that it is indeed okay to use force to get what you want, and when the child implements the same strategy on the ones he has power over, we wonder “where did he pick that up from” and further attempt at disciplining him, yes you guessed it, through more violence. The cycle continues with that child raising his children and applying the same strategy you so graciously passed on.
So what to do in order to discipline the child in a better manner? In a nonviolent nonaggressive way, which does not turn into a vicious cycle of violence? After all, children are resilient and can be challenging in many phases of their life.
The first thing that is very essential in achieving this is to have a warm and loving relationship with your child so that the child trusts you to be his benefactor and would be willing to take your advice.
The second rule is to make it firm and fair that is you set limits and consequences to your child’s behavior while encouraging good behavior with praise and reward. The setting of family rules helps the child understand the right and wrong behavior in a better way when they see that being practiced or modeled in front of them. We also need to explain the consequence of an action to the child in order to build a moral understanding of right and wrong.
The best way to discourage bad behavior is to implement strategies like, “time-out’, withdrawal of affection for a while, talking to them about the problem after a while and explaining to them the consequences of their action and why it needs to be eliminated. Withdrawal of privileges like technology, play time, ice cream, their favorite TV show for a while etc has proven to be a much successful disciplinary agent than shouting or beating the child. The effect of those may be visible but it is short lived and teaches the child only to avoid the behavior in front of the parent, the moral reasoning about why not to do so, the thing that actually stops them from doing the act again remains ignored and hence the strategy fails.
Children are impressionable and if dealt with in a manner where you explain why a thing is wrong they are seen to internalize that in a much better manner than to be beaten every now and then.