A child’s perspective on discipline

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I was a really good child, not because I wasn’t mischievous or experimental or curious like every child, but because I had a mother who believed in using the feather duster rod as a disciplinary tool.


Discipline in the eyes of a child

Discipline in the eyes of a child

I was a really good child, not because I wasn’t mischievous or experimental or curious like every child, but because I had a mother who believed in using the feather duster rod as a disciplinary tool.

And like most Asian moms, my mother had the “LOOK”, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with. It’s that “LOOK” that freezes every fibre in your body; that “LOOK” that says if you don’t stop what you’re doing right now, you’re getting the “ROD”.

Today, I’m a mother of two and I found myself using the “LOOK” once or twice with my 4-year-old son in an effort to discipline him. It worked. I don’t know if it was a lucky coincidence or perhaps my son is a lovely, accommodating boy.

With my 2-year-old daughter, the “LOOK” is completely ineffective. Whenever I tried it with her, she would mock me and promptly dissolve me into laughter.

Click to find out the 5 disciplinary mistakes parents make

Discipline is a tough subject for parents. There are so many “what ifs” and “what not’s”. Do we discipline or not? When and how should we discipline? What kind of disciplinary measures should we use? When does discipline become corporal punishment?

Then there are the questions based on our personal beliefs and experiences. Giving a “time-out” or smacking – which is more effective? Who is the disciplinarian – Mom or Dad? Is the “crime” deserving of the “punishment”? Are we under-disciplining or over-disciplining?

While researching on this subject, I found plenty of literature to help parents answer the above questions. But what about the child in this equation? What is his or her opinion on discipline? After all, we were all children once and how we were disciplined, now influences the way we discipline our children.

So in the name of fairness, this article is dedicated to explore discipline from a child’s perspective. What is discipline to a Child?

Discipline is INFORMATION

Children have a built-in mechanism called curiosity which challenges them to experiment, question and examine their immediate surroundings in their quest for knowledge.

They are compelled to defy the boundaries to confirm your allegations. If you say the iron is hot. Well, they need proof. If you tell them that the jungle gym is too high to climb, well, that’s a challenge they can’t resist.

Children’s love affair with the television is legendary. It’s a great source of information and they will watch it for hours if you allow it. These little geniuses know you’ll allow them to watch MORE television programs when you’re amazed. Hence, they offer snippets of social wisdom learned from Strawberry Shortcake, speak phrases of Spanish (courtesy of Handy Manny), and tell you about the distant places they’ve been with The Little Einsteins.

Discipline is SECURITY

Children like rules and routines. It gives them stability and familiarity. Once in a while, they like to test the boundaries and the authority of the rules (that’s you, mom & dad) to ensure that they are dependable. But the truth is that they are secretly entertained by mom and dad’s reactions to their “rebellion”.

Discipline is CONFUSING

Children are keen observers who enjoy emulating the behaviour of adults around them. My husband is big on manners and often instructs my son not to speak with his mouth full at the dining table. On a few occasions, he was caught talking with food in his mouth by my son and was gravely reprimanded.

Another point of contention is ambiguous instructions from adults. Contrary to what adults think, young children are unable to multitask. Thus, giving them multiple instructions only renders confusion. A more effective way to communicate would be to provide one or two succinct instructions at a time. In addition, the instructions should be conveyed in a language that is clear and simple for the child to understand. Sometimes, children seem defiant because they don’t know what the adult wants or how to fulfil instructions that they have been given.


Remember that day you had a million errands to run? And you were hurrying your child because you were behind schedule and distracted? He was dragging his feet and you asked “Why are you so slow? Come on, come on!!” Or remember the arguments that ended with you saying “because I said so…” to your child?

Children are a work in progress. Physically, their short legs are just unable to catch up with our long ones. Emotionally, they are still discovering where the buttons are and how to express themselves. Is it any wonder when they refuse to cooperate?

Children are people too. They desire respect and recognition as individuals with different temperaments. They feel affronted when adults deny their rights to accomplish tasks in their personal style, and protest with resistance, challenges and tantrums.

Click to find out the 5 discipline mistakes parents make

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