This has been one of those debates that have carried on for centuries so I want to bring some logic to the table and explain the consequences of Action, Re-Action and No Action.
To discipline or to not discipline, and what does that look like?
In this photo the grown up is telling the cubs in no uncertain manner, that they have crossed a boundary or were about to cross it. The lion looks angry but it is just laying down the law – “Because I said so”. It will then go back to relaxing and the cubs will return to playing. There is no love lost, in fact, there is no greater love than disciplining an infant so that they know such boundaries. By disciplining to prevent something happening, rather than waiting until damage has been done, is called teaching.
Example: – When I was young my dad taught me that when we cross the road we look left, then right and then left again. If the road is clear then it is safe to cross over to the other side. If I did it wrong or mucked about at this time, he raised his booming voice to let me know I am better of concentrating on the lesson.
We bottle up our emotions, trying to cope with all situations, or at least APPEAR to be coping. Perhaps a child has been playing loudly, while you are trying to concentrate. The issue with this is that we become like a pressure cooker. The pressure keeps building up and building up, until something so incredibly silly and small, sets off the explosion. The child has technically done nothing wrong, yet the devastation of the situation causes irrevocable damage. By speaking to the child in a way that they understand the importance of playing quietly, or encouraging them to play a different game then you are able to concentrate better. Also, taking breaks and even playing with the children keeps the head clear and calm, which means you can concentrate better.
Example: – If I never learnt to cross the road safely then I might start chasing a ball, or just walk out onto the road while no-one is watching. On noticing, my father would have to call out to me and hope that I stop before going on to the road, and hope that I didn’t treat it as a chasy game and start running faster in the direction of the road.
Unfortunately, in fear of litigation or shame from onlookers, many parents don’t make boundaries clear. They are so afraid of doing the wrong thing they do nothing at all. As a result a child may go out and steal or damage property. As a minor they are given a stern word from the law and set free. Judges have the expectation that the parents will take appropriate action on the child however, as some parents have never received such action they don’t know how they should do this. Sometimes a child will actually cause problems just to make their parent do SOMETHING! They even hit the parent to try to get them to react but the parent sits there ignoring it, hoping they will just stop.
Example: – If I run onto the road but nothing happens and I safely get to the other side and there are no consequences from my dad, then I may become complacent about the road as I grow into an adult. That I can always walk across any road at any time and that there will be no consequences. At some point I am bound to find that is not the case and that there can be devastating consequences.
Children need to know that there are consequences – some consequences they feel or experience and some they don’t but others may feel or experience them.
To discipline a child doesn’t mean that you have to inflict pain. It is merely to establish clear boundaries for a child so that they can grow in a safe environment. This is to show them love. You love them enough to not let them run amok and cause harm to anyone.
I like the way a friend of mine dealt with this as her children grew old enough to understand consequences. She asks them if they are making good choices. The child then must stop and consider the action and re-action of what they were doing. It causes them to take responsibility for themselves.
Boundaries – that’s the basis for a fabulous life!