I think it was in the month of October, and one of the Saturdays, after dropping our son at swimming pool we took our daughter to park as we had to anyways wait for an hour for him to return. We went to the park and my daughter was having a good time there and it was time to go. So she hardly spent half an hour there and was very reluctant to go for obvious reasons. She was adamant, holding her feet back and we literally had to force her out of the park. She was screaming loudly which was embarrassing. And this situation led to heated arguments between parents (inevitable), I can laugh it off now but that moment was something different. I doubted my parenting, “where am I going wrong in bringing up my children”, “why she behaved that way”, “Am I a bad mother that my kids don’t pay attention to my words“ and many questions followed making me introspect myself and my ways. I felt broken, down and out. I must tell you that she normally abides by what I say but that day it was a different ball game, every parent experiences such incidents I guess.
As they say, sharing helps to mellow down the pain and burden, I confided to my dear friend about the situation and one thing she said really stuck me making a deep impact and that’s what I wanted to share with you all when the topic of “Discipline ” was tossed up for this week. She said “I don’t understand when parents say kids don’t listen to us. It’s really important to make them understand that WE are the parents and they cannot boss around with us, period!”
It made sense, not just “a lot of but wholly“. We all love our kids but loving them without disciplining them, without infusing any sense of responsibility, without morals is as good as a blind leading a bunch of ignorant minds. That would only lead them to fall deep down.
Though parenting is not a definite science with set rules as every kid and every parent is different but I would like to put forth my observation, rather this is what I practice (I do falter sometimes 😔):
A No Is A No: Well this holds good for kids too. When my kids put forth unreasonable demands, I say NO straightaway. But sticking to it is a rather difficult feat to do. They may cry, bring in recommendations 😁, cling on to you and much more. And if you succumb then they know the trick to get you every time. For instance, my son for whom it is difficult to comprehend a “No” because of his Autism would just throw an agitated tantrum every time I say No. But I try to remain unfazed by anything he does and at the end he would return to normalcy. Actually, this was what proposed by his teachers too, I am following it as religiously as I could.
A timetable is important: Following timelines, having a schedule is of paramount importance when it comes to disciplining kids. And I believe in adhering to it strictly. Be it for how long they are going to watch television when they will have dinner, time to go to bed – everything is fixed. It sets an order and decorum. They should know “Early to bed, early to rise” isn’t just a rhyme 😁.
Parents should be on the same page: It’s a normal tendency that one parent is in charge of disciplining kids at home while the other significant one takes a comparative backseat. It was my mother in past and now I am the captain of the ship 😎. So whenever a call has to be taken I insist that I and my partner remain on the same page (at least apparently in front of kids). The difference of opinion can be discussed in private. Kids should identify the authority and definitely shouldn’t get a chance to “Divide and Rule“😂.
Carrot And Stick: Ah! This is one of the management/leadership style that I learnt in college is proving to be handy now. I surely don’t believe in the thought process of “spare the stick and spoil the child“ but it is important to emphasise on Rewards (Carrot) and Consequences (Stick) theory for kids. It would make them responsible in the long run, to say the least. The excitement of a reward and fear of a punishment is very important in moulding up a child’s attitude. That would help them mark the difference between a “Good Behaviour” and a “Bad Behaviour”. A very recent example from Facebook though – a father made his daughter walk to school (5 miles spread over two or three days) in reaction to her inappropriate behaviour of bullying someone. And this is what I exactly meant.
Involve them in chores: Not sure how far this would go in disciplining a child but this would ensure more interaction with them, the autonomy of a greater level in kids infusing confidence. And the goal of parenting definitely includes shaping up a confident independent child. I try to include my kids as much as I can.
NOTE: These are my observations (to a greater extent practice too) only. I do fail many times as a parent. But I shall not stop because my kids are my responsibility. I hold responsibility towards them as a parent and towards society too, to give it a socially aware human being and the process is on. And this holds true for every parent. Remember, you are doing great for parenting is not easy and doesn’t come with a manual. You might have a different approach, do share with me 😊.