We’ve all heard of the saying “spare the rod, spoil the child”. But most children can often test their parents’ patience on a daily basis and when this happens, some might just feel tempted to reach for the rod.
Does physical punishment — such as spanking a child — work? Does it help them grow into a well-rounded member of the community, or does it breed resentment?
Equally, does showering a child with love and material things breed laziness and spoil them?
Disciplining your child: How do you strike a balance?
Either way, how you go about disciplining your child is often based on your own outlook on life, with many parents looking to their own childhoods.
Those who were spanked may often think twice about raising their hand, while those who were spoilt rotten will swear they will never allow their child to be like them and enforce harsher discipline, such as, perhaps spanking them.
Or it could work the other way around, with those who were spanked as kids continuing the trend with their own children, and those who were spoiled, spoiling their own children in turn.
Disciplining your child: Personal experience
As a parent, I have never spanked our daughter for her indiscipline. That doesn’t mean she was perfect, no one is.
She grew up as an ordinary child, within a balanced environment, but it never came to a point that we had to use physical punishment to enforce our message.
Simply making my daughter understand that was she did was not acceptable was punishment enough. The important thing for us was to see her take those experiences into her wider environment and life, and not repeat them.
Also, a sanction more debilitating than a smack, such as taking away her mobile phone or other privileges, had more impact.
She has not grown into a spoilt child but one that appreciates that what she has is as a result of hard work.
Building confidence on the blocks of trust, in which we never talked down to her but as an equal, now shine through.
Rewarding your child with love and kind words when he does something right doesn’t mean you are spoiling him
It’s no secret that some parents spank their child when they think it’s an appropriate punishment.
A friend of ours, Mary (not her real name), related how she as a youngster ran onto the road, was hauled back by her mum, and got a spanking while being told not to do it again.
The consequences of running into the road could have been a life or death matter, but the split-second spank delivered a short, sharp message. Cross the road responsibly.
Mary, now a mother of 2, has taken that episode to her children by threatening a spank if their breach of indiscipline reaches such a level. This threat has resulted in a responsible approach to crossing the road!
Getting spanked or yelled at could have detrimental effects on a child’s personality
Getting spanked as a child doesn’t always prevent undesirable behaviour as an adult.
Jennifer, another friend, relates how her brother Robert (not their real names) was always in trouble throughout his teens for his brushes with the law, and so his talking back was met with spanks.
For him, the continuing physical punishment eventually lessened in impact and dulled as time went on. He got into greater scrapes and ended up in jail.
Over the years, he learned and experienced that respect is mutual and has to be earned. This lesson has helped him to grow as a good person. He is a father now, who does not use spanking as a form of punishment.
Talking and active communication are his greatest allies when it comes to disciplining his children.
Try talking to and reasoning with your child instead of yelling at or hitting her when she does something wrong.
Striking a balance
The trick when it comes to disciplining your child is being able to strike a balanced relationship between child and parent that is not based on corporal punishment (which equates to fear and resentment), but on understanding and respect instead.
In fact, there is plenty of research that show that corporal punishment can actually have a detrimental effect on your child’s personality and character (see www.naturalchild.org).
Having said this, a child needs to understand that if he does something you don’t approve of, there will be consequences. This can easily be achieved through gentle discipline.
Find out more about disciplining your child through gentle discipline strategies on the next page…
Gentle disciplining doesn’t mean you give in to your child’s every desire.
Parents who enforce gentle discipline methods don’t spank, shame or embarrass their kids.
Instead, they recognize skills that their children need and find discipline strategies that will accomplish their goals.
If this method makes more sense to you than corporal punishment when it comes to disciplining your child, here are some tips for you to consider:
Teach kids what to do: A child who calls his brother mean names doesn’t just get time-out. Instead, teach him to use his words in a nice way and express his feelings in a way that is socially appropriate.
Acknowledge their feelings:If a child is upset about about something, try not to say, “Well that’s life”, or, “Don’t get upset over little things”. Instead, talk to your child about his feeling and take him seriously. Kids feel validated when they see that adults take their feelings into consideration.
Place an emphasis on safety: Teach kids to ask themselves if something is a good choice or not and point out potential problems with certain behaviors and choices. Teach your kids the underlying reasons for rules, without just saying, “Because i said so”.
For example, you could say, “We walk in parking lots because there are a lot of cars driving around that we need to be watching out for so we don’t get hit.”
Acknowledge your child’s feelings
Negative consequences: Gentle parenting shouldn’t be confused with permissive parenting. Instead, implement consequences that have a purpose and are learning experiences.
For example, instead of yelling at a young child or toddler for touching something he’s not allowed to, try redirecting his attention to something else to stop the behaviour in question.
Similarly, time out may be used for older children to teach them to take a break when they are angry or upset.
Positive consequences: Use positive consequences such as rewards systems and positive attention to reward and reinforce your child’s good behaviour.
Parents, share your views on disciplining your child with us by leaving a comment.