Discipline…what is it about this word that tends to automatically associate it with unruly behaviour and some form of punishment?
In fact, discipline means ‘the ability to behave and work in a controlled manner’ or ‘attempt to improve the behaviour of self or another by training or rules’ so, in short, it’s all about learning about how to conduct ourselves in a variety of situations taking into consideration those that we impact by our words, actions and attitudes.
Put like this, I don’t suppose anyone would question the need to apply discipline in our children’s lives. They aren’t born with an innate sense of self control and consideration of others (in case you hadn’t noticed) and so, in order for them to function well in society, we have the responsibility to train them the best way we can. This isn’t punishment, this is kindness.
I’m aware that there are so many different ideas about raising children and this can cause so much confusion for us as parents. The last thing we want to do is get it wrong, but what is right?!
If I can offer any guidance at all on this one, I would say that ‘right’ is knowing that you ultimately have your child’s best at heart and not just an easy life, that you have educated yourself about the different stages of their development and considered different approaches (even up to their teens), that you have talked about what appropriate discipline looks like with your partner/family, that you have seriously considered whether your expectations are age appropriate and balanced in the circumstances, and that you keep a check on your own self control, so that you respond rather than react to your child.
I think that if we are able to do all of these things, we have a pretty good chance of not only training our children the best we can, but also in being a good example of what a disciplined person looks like.
One childcare author described children as ‘wet cement’. They are easily impressionable but once formed it’s hard to change the mould.
Should we become weary in the discipline/training of our children, just try to picture those times when we have, or definitely will, feel incredibly proud of them because all our efforts have proved invaluable.
One final thought for those of us who are the grandparents. We know how daunting and tiring the disciplining/training of children can be, after all we’ve been there and got the t-shirt, so a few words of encouragement to the parents could just be what they need to keep going.
If you google quotes on discipline you will find hundreds, here are just a few to make us think…
“Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?” Jane Nelsen
“Your kids require you most of all to love them for who they are, not to spend your whole time trying to correct them.” Bill Ayers
“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” Plato