How many times have you been embarrassed by your kids for throwing tantrums in public?
Gone are the days when kids would sit down for studying out of fear as soon as they saw their dad returning home. No more do today’s mom hit her kids with chappals or belans (a common scenario for the 90’s kids : p ). Generation next parents believe in raising their children in a terror-free and friendly atmosphere, which is absolutely amazing. However, make sure the liberty you provide is not taken for granted and you know where to draw the line. We are definitely not in the favor of Authoritarian parenting, which involves getting too harsh on kids and making them follow your rules and not considering their viewpoints. But a permissive type of parenting where you are too soft with your kids and let them just be in order to avoid hurting them can make them too stubborn or rebellious or even prone to low self-esteem and depression. While we try to befriend our kids, it’s important to strike the right balance for disciplining them at the same time.
Significance of Discipline
It is Important to build discipline in kids from a tender age to help them grow into a better person. Discipline helps the child to imbibe essential moral values from being responsible, making positive choices over negative ones, empathize, help and share with others and most importantly help him/her turn into a better person. One of the common reasons why few parents have been unsuccessful in building discipline is that they have somehow started associating discipline with punishment. Disciplining your child is all about helping them make the right choices from the wrong ones and keeping them safe.
Here is a quick guide to help you out with the same at various stages.
*If you are a preggo, the good news is that you can start imparting moral values to your child as early as in the womb.
Certain researches have proved that babies brain is active, learning and responding to the surrounding atmosphere while in the womb.
Between 0-2 Years of Age
Your little one has just started exploring his world, each behavior of your baby/toddler is a reflection of what he sees around and experiences. They are also at a stage where they are discovering new things every day and are curious about it. At first, I was amazed to see how my toddler quickly developed by saying “NO” too often. Imagine if I keep telling you “don’t do this, don’t go there, you are not supposed to eat this”. Sounds frustrating? Especially when you don’t understand the reasoning behind the “NO” for you while you are so curious to know everything. That’s exactly what happens with toddlers. And that’s where they learn to say “No” as they also want to feel themselves in self-control.
Next time try to give them choices or distract them instead “instead of climbing on those stairs sit on your rocking chair that’s more fun or these baby carrots are yummier than that plastic spoon”. Giving babies and toddlers choices makes them feel their opinions are considered. This kind of attitude will help them in decision making in future too. You can also simply let them explore things as long as they are safe and do not try to bubblewrap them every now and then.
There may be times when Babies and toddlers can get extremely cranky and whining, in such scenarios instead of losing your own cool. Try to calm them down first by paying attention and trying to talk to them. Ask them to stop crying and convey what the matter, they might tell you through their gestures about their demands. Pay attention to the cues, it could be that they are hungry, sleepy or maybe they just need your attention and pampering.Crying/whining/getting cranky are means of expressing their emotions as they have still not fully developed their communication skills, so be patient and try to understand.
What if they are demanding something that’s not appropriate for them, try to explain them in a simple and easy manner or simply distract them. But make sure do not lose your temper or spank them. Spanking kids in this age would mean hurting the child, without the child making a connection as to why he or she is being hit. It also makes them believe that its OK to hit/harm and then don’t be surprised if your child hits you in return.`
Between 3-5 Years of Age
This age is about learning mannerism and socializing. Encourage positive attitudes like sharing, table manners etc. Kids are curious to know what if they behaved the other way round. Set rules and stick to its consequences. First, try to communicate, then demonstrate the consequences and stick to it. For eg. If your preschooler broke his toy on purpose, he gets no other toy in the day. If you, however, give in to their pleading and fulfill their demands, they are not going to take you seriously the next time. Hence keep the rule practical and stay consistent.
Also important deal here is to practice what you preach. If you are mostly into your cell phone the maximum time, don’t scold your little one if he/she tries to do the same. Remember kids, especially at this age, tend to mimic their role models(YOU as PARENTS). Also, don’t forget to appreciate their good behavior each time.
*Events that take place between 5-10 years have a great impact on the behavior of the kids.
Between 6-8 Years of Age
They are in a much better stage of expressing themselves now. Try imparting discipline and make them self-reliant. Make them do their share of chores, help them balance time for study and play. Let them face the natural consequences of their mistakes. For eg. Your child spent too much time playing, leaving her homework incomplete. Don’t do it on her behalf or make her stay awake at night for completing it. Let her face the low grades or the teacher’s remark. Be there for her, if she gets upset and explains to her how she can avoid such instances in future by managing her time. Kids learn better by facing situations on their own.
Between 10-13(Tween) Years of Age
Kids are exploring the outside world. Many things may seem new and exciting for them. They would want to spend more time with their friends than being at home with you. Even you need to accept these changes and make a slight shift in your attitude towards them. You have explained to them the rules and consequences, by now they should be able to adhere to it. If still not try talking it out rather than scolding them. Try to be like a buddy to them. They need a little privacy too and may not be always comfortable sharing all their feelings, don’t force them too. You need to, however, keep a watch on their company of friends and their browsing history as well. Sounds contradictory? It’s Alright for your 11-year-old to get knowledge on Sex Education but ensure he is not being exposed to porn sites. You can simply judge if your child is going on the wrong path even from a distance by merely observing his overall attitude. Gestures like avoiding eye contact, using foul languages should be a warning signal. As explained earlier be an observer, try to befriend your child so that he/she is not pressurized to open up with you.
Your child’s transition from tweenage to teenage will further bring on more changes in his/her life from puberty to maturity. Remember since these changes are not just physical but also mental and emotional.Y our kid might display certain unexpected rude and rebellious behavior which might not be in his/her control at times. While you deal with it patiently, do strongly convey the message that it is not an acceptable gesture. A lot of the debates and arguments in this age tends to revolve around freedom, privacy, and privileges. The battle becomes easier if you have already gained your child’s confidence in his tween age and befriended him/her. Try to understand his/her point of view, explain yours and try to find a middle way. Try reducing the generation gap for reducing the conflicts. Teens often tend to make decisions in this age based on their emotions rather than logic. Which may not be always right, let them learn from their experience and if you feel its important for you to intervene and change it, do it a manner your teen would be affected negatively in the least possible way.
What not to do-Spanking
As common and easy a tool it may seem, it has a major negative impact on your child’s development
- Babies and toddlers are just physically hurt when they are spanked unaware of its intention
- Spanking creates a fear amongst kids making them prone to hide/lie to parents.
- Spanking can cause physical damage to kids
- Spanking can hurt a child’s emotions, making a child aggressive, anti-social or also cause depression.
- Spanking teaches children that hurting/harming other’s when angry is FINE
Always remember imparting discipline does not mean you need to punish your child each time they make a mistake. How many times have you exclaimed to him”You are a bad boy! “on his mischief? It’s the behavior that is bad not your child.
Next time when your child does something wrong before you get mad at him/her, say this to yourself ”Hate the sin and not the sinner”
All said and done, every child is unique and so are his needs. You are the best person to understand and deal with them.
Alpana Tarkar, is a Clinical Nutritionist with a Post Graduation in Nutrition & Dietetics having 9 years of experience in the field. She is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a mother as well. She has helped many people improve their medical profile & believes in achieving a healthy body & mind through minor changes in the daily routine. Her mantra for fitness is “Make healthy eating a treat to your taste buds and exercise time your fun time, results will follow effortlessly”.