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To Discipline or Not to Discipline?

A common topic amongst many children’s psychologists, teachers and parents is discipline.
Questions arise such as:
Do most parents discipline enough?
Do most parents discipline at all?
Do most parents even know how to discipline?
How about the level and length of discipline? And which punishments suit the crimes appropriately?
Teachers want us to discipline at home to assist them in keeping their classrooms running smoothly, as well as to help reinforce what our children are being taught as up-and-coming citizens, while psychologists want to bring the hammer down on harsh punishments at home and basically educate us on their ‘new and improved’ ways of ‘teaching’ our children  to behave.
With what we learned about discipline in our own childhoods, all the information on the internet and the pressure of the most recent generation of ‘professionals’ telling us what’s damaging and what’s not…we are left to sort through it all.
There are no rules or guidelines for parents. All we know is that our parenting classes began a few weeks before birth, finished just prior to the birth, and then we were on our own.
It was then our responsibility to pick up a book, ask an experienced friend or relative for guidance and then follow our instincts.
It’s not the easiest way to raise our kids, but it’s what we do. Occasionally we muck it up; parenting is definitely a learning curve. It’s a combination of on the job training, process of elimination and tests of time.
We do the best we can with the resources we have and we hope that our kids turn out okay. And discipline is one part of parenting that is not fun, it’s never cut and dry, and it can be very confusing.
This week Family Matters with Amber will focus on discipline, i.e.; tough love.
Part I
Groundation stinks.
Lets face it, punishment is awful. It makes kids grumpy, is annoying for grownups and it is so darn inconvenient!
Anyone who has had to ground a kid by punishing them for a day, or more, knows what I’m talking about.
Moods, attitudes and morale are most likely down within the family because there is one young lady (or fellow) who seems to be ruining it for the bunch.
As much as we don’t like to ground our kids, we have to ask ourselves, without discipline would the child learn anything by their actions? Without repercussions would they learn self- accountability?
The answer is no.
Like anything there needs to be a balance. There also needs to be guidelines and expectations. Children need to have a clear set of rules and consequences; at home, at school and in life in general.
It’s a hard line between too much and too little.
Too much discipline or too harsh, the child will become hopeless, stressed and feel that they cannot do anything right ever. Wondering if they will ever do anything right or ever see something other than the four walls of their bedroom.
Too little discipline will lead to kids who are completely out of control or who sense that there are no straight forward rules, but only gray areas. These children will quickly learn how to work ‘the system’.
As much as I hated being grounded as a kid, I have to say that I do appreciated at least 85% of the discipline that my father brought down on me.
I became a very motivated individual with high expectations and extreme discipline.
I don’t appreciate the long 1 month punishments with no possibility of parole. Nor did I appreciate the lack of attention or love during those times.
I grew up with a lack of confidence in many aspects and I also felt hopeless much of the time. Because each time I made a mistake the consequences were so severe I literally felt like I was going to die and that I was a failure who could not do anything right. And most of all, I didn’t feel loved when I was bad.
That’s why it’s important as parent’s to discipline with love and encouragement.
I make a habit of hugging and kissing my children after a scolding or a punishment. I tell them that I do not love them any differently and that no matter what, I love them. But (and this is key) they made a bad choice.
We don’t want our children to feel desperate and discouraged. We want them to be aware and accountable for their actions. We understand that discipline is necessary, but equally, love and acceptance must be part of the process. With that, an equal punishment should be used to teach the lesson.
Kids are human, just like we are. They aren’t perfect and they never will be void of error-no matter what we do.
Our jobs as parents are to raise the best citizens as we can, with the resources we have, while loving them all the way.
We can get irritated with our kids… okay, we can get downright angry with our kids. They do things that shock us. They do things we just cannot wrap our minds around, but we should never let them think that we disapprove of them as a person.
Unconditional love and tough love need to be combined to raise emotionally healthy, self-accountable children. Your acceptance is what your child wants, but your love and boundaries are what they need. When you give them both they will try better next time to do the right thing...
Otherwise, without that security, they feel rejected, hopeless and will work harder to behave badly because they feel like they’ve got nothing to lose.
                           … be continued…


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