Parenting is a daunting task. I am an African mother. I grew up in Africa where most of the things discussed here are actually strange, but thank God for technology and ever-changing world enriched with knowledge of so many things. Yes children are like wet cement, parents are the builders. We mould them. I want to quickly comment on the issue of correcting the teenagers when they are wrong. I am of the opinion that in as much as we do not smack or beat them, we should have a way of punishing them, not physical abuse, but find a way to temporarily restrain them from one-act they enjoy most.
This is a comment I received on of my write ups The Five Love Languages of a Teenager.
The question for the day is this……How do you discipline a child without appearing that you are abusing the child?
I, like the commentator above, am an African mother who grew up in Africa in the 70s and 80s. A time and place where smacking was (and sometimes still is) the primary mode of discipline for a childhood misbehavior. Now that I am grown, looking back to my childhood days, even though I wasn’t a problem child that was under constant punishment, the few times that I was smacked, I don’t feel abused or traumatized in any form.
There are different teachings on whether a child should or should not be smacked (depending on the age of course). What happened to “spare the rod and spoil the child?”…… But then I am not an expert on this hence will not dwindle into it.
So this brings me back to my question again…… how do you discipline a child without smacking or appearing to be abusive?
Before delving into positive ways to reprimand your child, there are certain parental factors that kept coming up in my research that makes disciplining a child challenging for parents.
- Setting clear rules and sticking to them– Explain to the child what the rules are and the consequences if broken. I heard a podcast once that if you discuss the consequences of a broken house or parental rule beforehand with your child, it makes exerting the consequence easier on the parent and it reduces resistance from the teenager.
- Being firm and consistent in your ways– If a parent sets bedtime to be 8:00 PM today and tomorrow allows her child to go to bed at 9:00 PM, then gets upset with the child when the child grumbles few days later when told to go to bed at 8:00 PM.
- Understanding Your Own Child and his/her Love Language– I wrote extensively on understanding your child’s love language in my last write-up. Understand that they are under enormous pressure from the society. Understand that their thinking is different from yours and mine.
- Setting Clear Expectations– This is so true. One of the comments I got on my parenting page once was to let the child know what is expected of them. A lot of times we assume children know what they are supposed to do without us communicating this verbally to them and when they don’t do them we get upset. What happens in this type of scenario is that the child becomes confused because he/she was never told to or not to do that which she was being punished.
From reading many trusted websites and speaking with other parents, I think the ones that tops the lists are for Positive Ways to Discipline Your Child are:
Loss of Privileges- Privileges are benefits given to people. A special opportunity to do something that makes that person proud. They are not mandatory or needs. Privileges have to be earned. The child’s age group depends on the privileges that will be withdrawn. Most of the parents I asked withdraw access to electronics, weekend outings with friends. When withdrawing the privilege, clear explanation has to be made on how to earn it back.
Creating a Behavior Contract -This actually sounded a little alien to me when I first came across it. But I’ve come across it multiple times on different parenting websites. What it really means is to have a written rule on what happens when certain family/house/parental rules are broken. This also teaches children how to honour agreement made.
Natural Consequences This is when you allow a child to continue on a relatively bad route so at the end of the day, the child will experience the consequence of his/her actions. If you’re dealing with a toddler or a child below 10 years, maybe. But for teenagers, I get a little skeptical. Like my father always used to say that you should not stop a child that want to play with candle flame from doing so. When the child gets burned, he will never try it again. For things these minor, it’s OK. But then when it comes to bigger issues like keeping bad friends, I don’t think this should be left to run its course. If a parent understands the influence of bad company, you will never allow this type of action to run its natural course.
Reward Good Behavior- Everyone likes to be rewarded, especially children because they look up to their parents for approval. When you acknowledge a good behaviour, there is a chance your child will want to continue on this path and strive to do more and better.
Logical Consequences– These are consequences that are directly related to the behaviour. For example, if a child has challenges with waking up early in the morning, this will result in earlier bedtime for the child. Period.
There are other positive ways of reprimanding child. Which method have you used in your parenting life? Leave a comment below.
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Thanks to these webpages: WebMed; Verywell; Aha Parenting;