Children Discipline at Home
Definition, background, aims.
Discipline means to instruct, impart knowledge and skills, or teach a person to follow a specific code of conduct or behave in a certain way. Telep (2019) maintains that child discipline has existed for centuries, but culturally acceptable forms of the same in the United States have changed numerous times in the past century. For instance, until the 1950s, parents believed that children should be seen and not heard, meaning that parents made the rules and children followed them without question. By the end of the 1950s, parents were reluctant to set rules as they cared deeply about their children’s feelings. As such, discipline was child-centered, and it was dependent on the child’s feelings (Telep (2019). Today, negotiations are the most effective method of instilling child discipline, whereby parents hold their children accountable to high standards of moral behavior while still taking their feelings, perceptions, abilities, and personalities into account. Parents use different strategies to discipline their children at home, but they aim to shape behavior, teaching them about guidelines, principles, and expectations as well as the difference between what is right and what is wrong.
Situation, reason and solutions
Every child is unique but they all pose diverse challenges. Telep (2019) lists hitting or kicking, backbiting, lying and bossiness as the most common discipline problems exhibited by children. For instance, children hit or kick each other or their parents when they are angry, frustrated or when they don’t know how to pass their point across (Telep, 2019). Just like other acts of physical aggression as reported by (Sege et al 2018), parents should not label their children violent or hostile, but instead, they should teach them how to communicate their disappointments and frustrations in a more acceptable manner.
Crystal, a twelve-year-old girl, takes her fifteen-year-old sister’s sweater without permission and stains it. Instead of cleaning it and returning it to her sister, Crystal leaves it on her bedroom floor. The sisters begin to argue while insulting each other, which eventually results in a fight. Various reasons, including emotional instability and personality, could have led to this situation, but it is up to the parents to develop practical solutions.
A significant number of people associate discipline with punishment. However, discipline and most disciplinary strategies are complimentary. They focus on teaching children about right and wrong, increasing prudent behavior, decreasing undesirable behaviors, and improving their self-control (Telep, 2019). Particularly, the AAP proposes that parents use positive discipline strategies such as showing or telling, setting limits, hearing them out, outlining consequences, giving them attention or teaching them (Sege et al 2018). In this case, Crystal’s parents could have used a show and tell strategy, which involves sitting the children down and explaining to them why arguing and fighting is wrong. For example, the parents could tell Crystal the importance of being more respectful and careful when using her sister’s sweater, but a fight does not solve any conflict.
Secondly, the parents could have reinforced rules by explaining which rules had been broken through the girls’ actions and the need to reinstate and adhere to them. For example, the parents could reaffirm that the girls are not supposed to take each other’s belongings without permission, they are not supposed to destroy each other’s belongings, and they cannot fight for whatever reason.
Child discipline relates to teaching and imparting knowledge and skills to the children regarding what is right and wrong. Parents use different discipline techniques ranging from teaching, reinforcing rules, and being role models, but the aim is always to shape behavior. However, it is critical to distinguish between discipline and punishment because although the two are sometimes used interchangeably, they are different. Punishment is dictatorial and unproportioned to the offense, which makes children angry at their parents instead of rectifying behavior while discipline takes into account all aspect of the children.
Sege, R. D., Siegel, B. S., ABUSE, C. O. C., & COMMITTEE ON PSYCHOSOCIAL ASPECTS OF CHILD AND FAMILY HEALTH. (2018). Effective discipline to raise healthy children. Pediatrics, 142(6).
Telep, V. (2019). Discipline and punishment: what is the difference.