Discipline has been defined in various ways by various sources. But defining discipline is relevant only for the purpose of academics interest. I don't think we need to do a Phd. on the academic side of child discipline to discipline our children.
Broadly speaking, as parents, the meaning of child discipline to us is:
Teaching a child how to:
- Learn self control
- Recognizing acceptable limits
- Learning where to stop
If the child is not learning to recognize limits, he is learning to ignore them. The more he learns to ignore them, the harder it is to for him to recognize any boundary in future. By the time child reaches teen-age, the process becomes irreversible.
Discipline vs. Freedom
Discipline does not kill freedom. It actually creates freedom. Disciplining the kids at the right time gives them the freedom that they enjoy social life as successful adults.
By learning to discipline, children do not step into other persons liberty and learn how to nicely fit into the society. Otherwise they will live their life in a free style way. Free style way is always more destructive than constructive, and it always hurts others.
If we let our kids do whatever they want to do, we do them no favour. By doing this, we train them how to ignore acceptable limits.
If we do not teach our kids where to stop, some one else would. And most likely … in a ruthless way. That would be much more painful for the kid, as well as for us. And then the same kid would turn around and complain, “Why didn’t you stop me before?”
Only loving or only disciplining would only spoil the child. Both Love and discipline have to go hand in hand, then only would the child be positively disciplined. He would learn self control, and recognize acceptable limits.
Discipline & Punishment
Most people think discipline means punishment. Nothing more nothing less. Discipline and love are seen as two enemies. They don’t believe that one can discipline and love one’s child at the same time.
The fact is that discipline and punishment are two separate identities. Punishment may be Negative or positive.
Negative punishment has nothing to do with discipline at all.
Positive punishment sometimes might have something to do with discipline, and that some thing is a very little part of Discipline.
And of course the bigger part of discipline is reward, encouragement, talking, listening, respecting, understanding and much more.
Process of Child Discipline
The process of child discipline has to work at two levels:
- Sowing the seeds of discipline in the child behavior so that the child can discipline himself on his own.
- Correct the child behavior If discipline goes out of order.
Both of these have to go simultaneously. Sowing seed of discipline makes the kids disciplined about certain things. But then new things keep coming up which tend to take them out of learned discipline. It is at this point that they need correction.
Ingredients of Child Discipline
Children don't know what is right or wrong. Parents do. Therefore the training instructions about right behavior has to flow from parents to children.
If we break up this simple process of flow of training instructions from parent to children, we get the following three pieces which need to exist for the child to be and remain disciplined:
- Parents must discipline themselves first: Parents are source of instructions. The instructions have to flow from Parents. They can transmit right instructions about discipline only when they themselves are disciplined. If they themselves are undisciplined, they can never transmit right instructions about right behavior. Click here to read more on how parenting discipline can influence child discipline.
- Instructions must be communicated in positive manner: Positive instruction would construct discipline, while negative instructions would destroy it. The instructions must contain positive words, and it should be communicated in positive manner. The purity of the instructions should not be polluted during the process of communication. For this parents need to learn and utilize all available techniques for effective communication with children.
- The child must be capable to correctly receive, understand and apply the instructions: It simply means that the child should have a normal human behavior for her age. There should be no behavioral disorder like Attention deficit disorder etc. If there is any behavioral disorder, we need to formulate the instruction in a such a manner that the child can easily understand and do whatever he is asked to do.