Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017

Discipline the Child Today to Avoid Problems Tomorrow

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March 9, 2017

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Discipline the Child Today to Avoid Problems Tomorrow

Good discipline simply means guiding kids towards internalizing survival skills – important lessons about life and living that they will need throughout life.

I believe the two best discipline techniques are giving children free time – having them sit silently for a pre-ordained period of time (usually for as many minutes as their current age) – and showing them that there are consequences for their misguided actions, such as depriving them of their favorite outing. The approach, or combination of approaches, one takes depends entirely on one ones’ own values and circumstances.

For discipline to be effective, however, one has to apply their preferred method. If you are teaching your one-year-old not to touch the lamp, but sometimes you remove his hand when he tries and, on other occasions, you run for the camera because he looks so cute with the lamp hoisted over his head, the `warning’ message is not going to get through. If you’re having trouble being consistent about something like that, save everyone a lot of trouble and just remove the lamp altogether.

Likewise, if sometimes you tell your child not to grab the glass out of your hand and other times you let her take it, she is going to have a much harder time learning not to grab. Perhaps, nowhere does this rule apply more that to taming tantrums. If you give in sometimes, but not at other times, it is no different than if you give in always. Your child figures it is worth the sea of tears and sore larynx in the hope that this will be one of the times screaming her head off works.

The stricter and tougher you are about these rules, the more readily your children will internalize good behavior. But life being what it is, there will be times when you will want to make an exception. It is probably beneficial for children to know that their parents are not completely rigid. So, feel free to be inconsistent on occasions as long as you wish to. Don’t break a rule until it has been strictly enforced for a while. It is harder for a child to learn a rule if it is only in effect on particular occasions.

Tell the child you are making an exception and explain why. Make it clear that usually he can’t drink juice in bed, but because he’s ill, you are bending the rule only for one time.

Be exceptionally tough-minded the next time round, because your child will inevitably test the limits of this concept of ‘exception’.

Try not to make exceptions a regular habit. The more consistent you are, the easier it will be for your children to learn what you expect of them, and what they expect of themselves. At first, being consistent can be a trial because your children may constantly challenge the rule hoping that this time you will let them get away with it. But if you are very tough at first, you won’t have to be so later. Even as your children internalize your rules, they’ll challenge them less and less. At first, you may need to deliver a series of mini lectures each time your child puts her bare foot atop the dinner table. Eventually, though, just raising your eyebrow will stop her before she starts.

I believe the two best discipline techniques are giving children free time – having them sit silently for a pre-ordained period of time (usually for as many minutes as their current age) – and showing them that there are consequences for their misguided actions, such as depriving them of their favorite outing. The approach, or combination of approaches, one takes depends entirely on one ones’ own values and circumstances.

For discipline to be effective, however, one has to apply their preferred method. If you are teaching your one-year-old not to touch the lamp, but sometimes you remove his hand when he tries and, on other occasions, you run for the camera because he looks so cute with the lamp hoisted over his head, the `warning’ message is not going to get through. If you’re having trouble being consistent about something like that, save everyone a lot of trouble and just remove the lamp altogether.\

Likewise, if sometimes you tell your child not to grab the glass out of your hand and other times you let her take it, she is going to have a much harder time learning not to grab. Perhaps, nowhere does this rule apply more that to taming tantrums. If you give in sometimes, but not at other times, it is no different than if you give in always. Your child figures it is worth the sea of tears and sore larynx in the hope that this will be one of the times screaming her head off works.

The stricter and tougher you are about these rules, the more readily your children will internalize good behavior. But life being what it is, there will be times when you will want to make an exception. It is probably beneficial for children to know that their parents are not completely rigid. So, feel free to be inconsistent on occasions as long as you wish to. Don’t break a rule until it has been strictly enforced for a while. It is harder for a child to learn a rule if it is only in effect on particular occasions.

Tell the child you are making an exception and explain why. Make it clear that usually he can’t drink juice in bed, but because he’s ill, you are bending the rule only for one time.

Be exceptionally tough-minded the next time round, because your child will inevitably test the limits of this concept of ‘exception’.

Try not to make exceptions a regular habit. The more consistent you are, the easier it will be for your children to learn what you expect of them, and what they expect of themselves. At first, being consistent can be a trial because your children may constantly challenge the rule hoping that this time you will let them get away with it. But if you are very tough at first, you won’t have to be so later. Even as your children internalize your rules, they’ll challenge them less and less. At first, you may need to deliver a series of mini lectures each time your child puts her bare foot atop the dinner table. Eventually, though, just raising your eyebrow will stop her before she starts.

Dr Shayama Chona, is the former Principal of Delhi Public School, R K Puram, New Delhi; Founder President of Tamana (NGO for physically & mentally handicapped children); Founder of Anubhav Shiksha Kendra (a school for the under-privileged); she has been a member of 96 Advisory Boards and Committees; she has been nominated to Managing Committees of 46 schools and other educational institutions; she has been named in the Limca Book of Records 2007. She has been awarded the State Award for Services in Education 1993, National Award for Services as a Teacher of Outstanding Merit 1994, National Award for Outstanding Performance for Welfare of People with Disabilities 1997, Padma Shri 1999, Padma Bhushan 2008, and 49 other awards. She lives at C10/8, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi-110057. Email: shayamachona@gmail.com, tamanapresident@gmail.com

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