I was at a church meeting recently where a lady came out holding her toddler with one hand and a wire (cable) in the other. She was clearly exasperated and wanted to hit her son with the wire. Someone quickly took the wire away while the mum complained about her son’s behaviour ” eh this boy will not stay in one place, he has refused to allow me carry him and is just walking about”. I looked at the boy who was about 18 months and told her “madam its his age…its difficult for toddlers to sit still for such a long period ” one lady carried the baby away while another held the woman and tried to steer her away from the disapproving glances of others around.
While I understood the woman’s exasperation I wondered to myself why bring a toddler to such a meeting and why would anyone think its alright to flog a toddler with a wire ? The very next day I read a story of a lady who was tied up and beaten by her parents and left with sores into which pepper was rubbed in and I wondered why on earth anyone would be subjected to such abuse. I have heard many of such stories of what I would call child abuse and I would like to believe some of such parents believed they were disciplining their child for “bad behaviour” without realising they are creating lasting scars on these children. As I pondered on these different stories I realised that I was indeed lucky. Yes my mum had flogged me several times but it had never been excessive and I never felt my voice was being silenced. While I would rather not debate on whether to flog or not, however I do know that discipline when done properly is not meant to harm the child physically or psychologically but guide them and ultimately show that you care. If a negative and repressive message is sent to that child in the course of disciplining then you may want to re asses what you are doing. Here are a few lessons I have learnt about disciplining children.
Correct in love: No matter what your child does they should never doubt your unconditional love. You can correct them firmly but with an attitude of love.
Keep Calm: No matter how upset you are always try and calm down before you mete out discipline. This is important as when you are really angry you tend to overreact and may end up doing more harm than good.
Do not threaten and fail: Set boundaries and give your child penalties if they are broken. When you fail to carry out a known penalty then your child will continue to break boundaries knowing they can get away with it. Once they know they will get punished for a particular behaviour they may think twice.
Draw close: This is closely connected to correcting in love.My mum was the “flogger” in the house so she would bring out her “itali” when you had misbehaved and give you a few swipes on your behind. We were never bruised or injured…Never! My dad also had his own cane but it was never used. His job was to smother us with hugs and explain that any time my mum spanked us it was done because they loved us immensely and wanted us to be the best we could be.
Talk it over: Children are smarter than we think and they know when they err. Therefore try discussing with your children and getting them to understand why they did wrong and the consequences.
Joint Discipline: Both parents should try and be on the same team when it comes to discipline. If necessary have a meeting with your significant other and make sure you are both on the same page when it comes to how to discipline the children in your home. This is really important as once children know parents have different stands they may be manipulative. If you are a single parent then of course the buck starts and stops with you.
Avoid public correction: Lets face it no one likes being embarrassed, even children. Unless its necessary (and you will know when it is) avoid correcting/ spanking your children in the presence of strangers.
Remember your child loves you and ultimately most children desire to make their parents happy. Raise them up in the way of the Lord and when they are old they will not depart from it.