Scolding your child to discipline him? Parents, know your limits

How do you know when to put the full stop when it comes to scolding your child? Find out here.

By S Divya Prabha

Scolding your child to discipline him? Parents, know your limits

Children exhibit a different kind of energy when compared to adults. Their energy levels are always high. They're almost always active and love to play, make loud noises, etc., and enjoy everything they do. Most parents enjoy watching children express and exhibit emotions such as playing, talking, etc. As adults, we should be patient enough to understand and realise the reason behind the child’s actions. Understanding the child’s feelings and emotions comes with knowing our limitations. It would help to remember the saying, “Handle with Care”. Children are great imitators. For example, if you shout, they will shout back; if you speak badly, they will do the same. Since your children will grow up to emulate your actions, it would be wise to do what you want them to.

The anomalies, 'a perfect child' or 'a perfect parent' do not really exist. Scolding your child harshly can hurt her beyond comprehension. Every child has his own emotions; some express them while others don’t. Using harsh words is considered a form of emotional abuse. Experts believe that yelling is as bad, and sometimes even worse than physical abuse and you should be aware of the psychological effects of scolding. Children experience feelings of humiliation, fear, guilt, shame, anxiety and stress just like adults. Some children may suffer from sleep-related problems, developmental delays, behavioural problems, learning problems, emotional issues and have trouble forming social relationships.

A meta-analysis by Larzelere and Kuhn (2005) found that conditional spanking was more effective in reducing child noncompliance and antisocial behavior in 10 of 13 studies. They added that overly severe or predominant use of physical punishment "compared unfavorably with alternative disciplinary tactics". In short, there seems to be a threshold wherein a little scolding can be a beneficial tool in a parent's disciplinary toolkit, while excessive scolding can be detrimental.

Myths and facts about scolding

Myth: Parents never abuse their own children.

Fact: By scolding and beating, parents emotionally abuse their children.

Myth: Scolding can help discipline children.

Fact: Scolding can’t bring discipline; it may instead become the root cause for behavioural issues in children.

Myth: Scolding your child in public can make her listen to you.

Fact: Scolding in public can make your child obstinate.

Myth: Scolding can make the child speak the truth.

Fact: Scolding will lead him to hide the truth.

Myth: Scolding helps parents control their child’s behaviour.

Fact: Parents who use scolding as their weapon are not in control. It does not teach children to change their behaviour. Instead, it makes children fearful or aggressive.

Myth: Good parents don’t get irritated or angry with their children’s behavior.

Fact: All parents get annoyed by their children’s behaviour at times. It is okay to be angry, but it is not okay to hurt your children in anger.

Myth: Scolding can make your child listen to you always

Fact: Scolding is not the key to make your child listen. Instead, it leads to violent behaviour.

“Scolding is not a good weapon for parents or parenting”. Be a positive parent and inculcate positive parenting techniques. Never abuse your children by not knowing the limits of scolding. Always keep this in your mind, “Yelling silences your message. Speak quietly so your children can hear your words instead of just your voice.” – L.R.Knost

Have a positive approach to life 

  • Wake up your child calmly.
  • Help her do her chores in a composed way.
  • Talk to him lovingly.
  • Never scold while they're having their food.
  • Avoid scolding when they go to bed.
  • Stop using harsh words.
  • Use lot of positive strokes.
  • Never put down your children in front of others.
  • Send them to school with a peaceful mind.
  • Receive them from school with a happy mind.
  • When you scold them, give appropriate reasons and explanations which are suited to their age and understanding.
  • Enjoy your child’s presence.
  • Get help from experts and manage your anger in an effective and positive way.

Watch your body language, tone of voice and use of words when you are with your child. If you feel you are losing your temper:

  • Take time out
  • Relax and breathe deeply
  • Check out the mirror
  • Distract yourself by listening to songs
  • Get yourself out from that place
  • Go for a walk and set your mind free
  • Calm yourself and then talk to your child

Use these simple techniques to reduce your anger towards your children. Talk to your children calmly to achieve the desired behaviour.

You could also learn about how you can discipline your child without punishment by setting behaviour expectations here

The author is a counselling psychologist who has specialised in child and adolescent psychology.

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