6 Myths About Discipline Busted

All parents want their children to be disciplined. However, they should remember to exercise caution while going about the process of discipline.

By Arun Sharma

6 Myths About Discipline Busted

It is essential for parents to teach children discipline, for it helps them learn self-control and self-management. However, in their eagerness to bring up a disciplined child, parents sometimes go overboard. They adopt ways and means that has an opposite effect on their child, instead of teaching him discipline.

Let us look at 6 myths of discipline that have been busted.

Myth 1: ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’.

While spanking or hitting a child was commonly used to discipline a child previously, most parents nowadays are against it. However, some parents still believe that there is no harm in hitting or hurting their child physically to teach discipline.

Hitting a child, or giving corporal punishment, can give rise to many behavioural issues like aggression, defiance or acting out. Instead, use techniques like displaying affection, saying words of encouragement, and connecting with the child to teach and reinforce discipline.

Myth 2: ‘Children behave well if they know they will be punished’.

Quite a few parents swear by the fact that punishment, or the fear of receiving punishment, has made their child learn discipline and behave well.

Parents should understand that by testing the limits, a child tries to understand her boundaries. So, sometimes, she will indulge in behaviour which may annoy the parents. But, by showing empathy and teaching her positive ways of interaction, parents can help their child behave well.

Myth 3: ‘Loving or showing affection will spoil the child’.

Some parents are unable to understand the fine line that separates love and affection from pampering. As a result, they feel that both are the same, and that showing love and affection can spoil a child.

Showering a child with love and affection is essential for him to feel secure, valued and attached to parents. However, when parents pamper their child by agreeing to his every demand, they certainly risk raising a spoilt child.

Myth 4: ‘Yelling makes my child stop in her tracks and behave herself’.

Children are full of energy and usually indulge in loud and chaotic behaviour. During such times, many parents resort to yelling to make their child behave.

When yelling or shouting becomes common, the child begins to understand that it is normal for her parents to behave that way. As a result, she stops paying attention. Therefore, get close to your child and speak gently to her to make her understand and stay disciplined.

Myth 5: “Being strict will help me raise well-disciplined children”.

Many parents still believe that by being strict with their child and forcing him to do what they want him to, they will be able to raise a disciplined and well-behaved individual.

By being strict, imposing their will and driving a child hard, parents risk raising a child who lacks empathy. What the child learns is that those around him should follow his orders without fail. By connecting with your child, and explaining how good and bad behaviour will affect both him and others, you can make him choose the good and reject the bad.

Myth 6: ‘Parents need to be in control at all times and exert it overtly’.

A lot of parents hold the opinion that their child should do what she has been told to. They are unwilling to listen to the child’s wishes or what she wants to say.

Listen to what your child has to say, address her concerns or wishes, and give her options to choose from. While it will make her feel that you are willing to listen to her and understand her, it will help you retain control in a positive and happy manner.

Children need the space and opportunities to explore their world in order to make sense of it. Complete parental control deprives them of exploring their curiosity and limits valuable learning experiences that allow them to develop confidence in themselves, trust in their parents and competence to negotiate their way in their environment. — *Arundhati Swamy

When it comes to teaching discipline, parents who believe the above six myths to be true do the most harm to their child. According to the article, ‘Effective discipline for children’, by Drs Peter Nieman and Sarah Shea, published in the journal Paediatrics and Child Health (2004), “Effective and positive discipline is about teaching and guiding children, not just forcing them to obey. As with all other interventions aimed at pointing out unacceptable behaviour, the child should always know that the parent loves and supports him or her. Trust between parent and child should be maintained and constantly built upon.”

*Arundhati Swamy is a counsellor and the Head of Parent Engagement Programs at ParentCircle.

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