Child discipline refers to the rules, rewards, or punishments administered for teaching self-control, increasing desirable behaviors, and decreasing undesirable behavior among children. As it is, the word discipline generally refers to the systematic instructions given to disciples. Therefore discipline means instructing a person, to pursue a certain code of behavior. While the objective of children’s discipline is that of developing as well as entrenching the desirable social habits among children, the major objective is that of fostering sound morals and judgment so that the child would maintain as well as develop self-discipline all through the rest of his/her life.
Child discipline draws ideas from a broad range of fields, like parents, professional practice in regard to behavior analysis, social work, developmental psychology, as well as different religious perspectives.
Corporal punishment had been one of the most common methods of discipline, until recent times. They were a common way of disciplining children, especially during medieval times. Then in the year 1690 John Locke in his essay on human understanding argued that a child was more like a blank tablet and therefore needs to be treated with compassion; and alternative methods, other than corporal punishments should be used for discipline.
However, the debate continues till this date, as to whether corporal punishment should be resorted to while disciplining a child or not. Proponents in favor of corporal punishment argue that the rising trend of vandalism, drug abuse, and violence, in general, has been largely due to the more liberal parenting attitude of recent times. These people are however a distant minority.
A majority of people and some reports suggest that corporal punishments tend to have far more negative effects than non-physical punishments. Moreover, the child gets used to it after some point in time and may become overtly stubborn. One should therefore resort to nonphysical methods of child discipline, in order to get the desired effects.
Scolding is a non-physical method if properly used. It involves criticizing or reproving the negative actions and/or behavior of a child. It can be as effective as verbal praise. One needs to understand that scolding is different from yelling, which may reduce the effect. Verbal abuse or personal attacks should be refrained from, as it might result in resentment, low self-esteem, powerlessness, and isolation in the child. You just have to make it clear that you mean business. A firm no-nonsense attitude should be visible to the child. It also needs to be understood here that relying overtly on this method would gradually lessen its effect over a period of time.
Isolation is another form of disciplinary action against the child for negative behavior. A young kid may be asked to sit in a naughty chair, whereas older kids may be asked to stand in a corner, facing the wall.
Some people may also resort to bribing the kids with tangible gifts, such as candies, toys, etc. However, this may lead to the kid expecting a bribe every time he/she resorts to positive behavior.
Raising a child is not an easy affair. Every child is unique and so is the case of disciplinary action to be taken in regard to negative actions by him/her. Gradually, as your child grows up, he/she would display some distinct characteristics, which would help you design your own rules for disciplining him/her.
As it is, discipline is definitely one of the most important prerogatives, when it comes to ensuring a bright future for your child.
From Steve Robbins – the child behavior change advocate.