Sometimes, parents and teachers resort to beating a child when they find it hard to cope with undisciplined behavior. But, is this the right way to instill discipline in a child? Certainly not.
In September 2017, the video of a teacher slapping a student no less than 40 times for 'not standing up during the attendance calling' shook the whole nation. The student was physically hurt, but his self-esteem was battered by the action of the teacher. It wasn't a stray incident. We often come across newspaper reports, videos, or images on social media of a child being beaten up by a parent or teacher. While the reports of mistreatment meted out to children fill us with a sense of outrage, we rarely spare a thought about the way we treat our own children. Such incidents only reinforce the need for 'positive' approaches to discipline.
Of course, children of all ages, especially younger ones, learn the ways of the world by pushing boundaries. In the process, they often tend to overstep their limits or behave in an undisciplined manner. This invites the parent's anger, and the child ends up at the receiving end of a stick. But, this is not the solution. For, resorting to physical abuse affects the child's emotional health in many ways.
Lowers self-esteem: Physical abuse makes the child feel overpowered and helpless. The child's feelings are deeply hurt and he begins to think, "I am not good enough. I can never please my parent." Such thoughts become the child's belief - that he has no worth. Thus he loses confidence in himself and suffers from low self-esteem.
Instills fear: The physical pain and mental agony caused by being beaten or slapped make the child afraid. A fearful child learns to suppress his feelings, becomes compliant with no ability to speak for himself or think independently.
difficulty in building trusting relationships with adults, besides impacting the child's peer relationships and academic performance.
Triggers rebelliousness: Rather than correcting the child, beating may only make the child become a rebel and commit similar wrongdoings again and again. This rebellious streak will, in the long run, become a trait of the child's overall personality.
Leads to aggressive behavior: The child begins to believe that 'might is right' and indulges in physical abuse himself. He resorts to bullying and beating others. His overall behavior may turn out to be rude and overbearing.
Causes anger and frustration: The child will be filled with a mix of emotions when he is physically assaulted. Anger, despair, frustration, and other similar feelings overwhelm him and, in the process, take away his focus from the problem at hand.
Set realistic expectations: Can a young child understand the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior in the absence of clear guidelines? The answer is 'No'. So, sit with your child and explain in clear and simple language what is considered to be acceptable behavior. This will give your child a clear understanding of how he is expected to conduct himself.
Praise your child's efforts: Children hold their parents in high esteem. So, a few words of praise from their parents for their little efforts are more encouraging, satisfying, and motivating than any other gift. Develop the habit of praising your child for the effort she puts in to do something good and fruitful, irrespective of the result. This will spur her to act in ways that make you happy and, elicit your approval and praise.
Spend time with your child: As children grow up, they extend their personal space as well. This, coupled with your busy lifestyle, can create a communication gap between the two of you. Inadequate levels of communication can prevent you from understanding your child, and also make your child hesitant to interact with you. So, make it a point to spend time with your child every now and then. Talk to him about his concerns, what makes him feel good, what he wants to do, and so on. Not only will this allow you to understand your child and handle him in a better way, but also bring your child closer to you.
Involve your child in activities: You must be familiar with the adage, 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop'. Being full of energy, enthusiasm, and ideas, children need to engage in a lot of activities. The absence of opportunities to release their excess energy can make children feel bored, irritated, and destructive. So, apart from giving your child toys to play with, take her out as well. Take your child to the park, the beach, or other such open areas where she can run around and play. If there are no such places around your neighborhood, just take her out for a walk and engage her in a conversation. This will make your child feel relaxed, connected, happy, and cooperative.
Seek professional help: We may not have solutions at all, or at least not effective ones, to all the issues that we may be facing. However, help from professionals is always at hand when you need it.
So now you see that although picking up the rod may seem like the easiest way to discipline a child, it is certainly not the right way.
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