Discipline versus Diss-ipline: Know the difference
Sir Post-A-Lot here and today we’re proud to bring you a hot-off-the-press, brand-spanking new piece from one of our very own, Rozy! She writes about the difference between disciplining our kids, versus dissing (i.e. scolding or emotionally lashing out) them.
I think we need to be fair to ourselves as parents at times, and that we’re human as well. And as humans, we’re subject to the same life stressors and emotions and all that jazz. This article isn’t about us being perfect people or perfect parents, rather, to be mindful that sometimes we do make some mistakes. It’s not about being perfect, but instead, for us to recognise that we do make mistakes. And when we do, what we can do to change.
So enough rambling from me, go right on ahead and sample the delicious offerings from Rozy below! Sir Post-A-Lot signing off!
Every parent adopts different parenting (and disciplining) techniques to cater to the different needs of their child. While some parents scream, and shout and let it all out, others may use a rotan, just like the good old days. Whilst there isn’t a definitive method on how to parent our children, we do know that typically a child needs to be raised within a certain structure for them to thrive. But where do we know when to draw the line, when discipline goes from being constructive to being destructive.
Before we go any further, we must first understand that a child’s brains is not that of an adult’s; thus, they often perceive things differently than us. That said, our behaviours can be easily misunderstood in the eyes of our children. An innocent intention may end up creating unnecessary issues for the child in the future. I would highlight here that the road to not very nice places are paved with good intentions; thus, the manner of delivering such intention is crucial.
Perhaps the best way to explain this is, disciplining your child does not mean you should hurt them or cause them pain, be it physically or emotionally. This is where I hope parents will attempt to draw the line. No doubt, a handful of parents still utilise a more physical approach when disciplining their child – such as canning. Well, there are better means to achieve your desired goals. For what’s worth, reinforcement is actually regarded to be a more effective method in shaping a child’s behaviour. Another perspective suggests that this too, can save us some money (and effort) buying a rotan.
Often time parents unintentionally hurt or cause pain to their children without them realising it by the words that they use. Instead of saying, “Are you deaf? Didn’t I say it’s wrong!” perhaps you can try “Good effort, Siti. Try again”. We want to be careful not to impose any personal attacks on our child – questions like are you deaf is understood by the child to mean, you are deaf. In the latter dialogue, the child is being acknowledged for her effort. It indirectly becomes a positive reinforcement for her to keep trying.
One common but impactful example would be – “That also cannot do ah? Why you so stupid one?!” A child’s simple mind would decipher the message and make them feel horrible (and worthless), especially at a younger age when a child is at the stage where they’re building self-competency. And trust me, these things have its own way of making life more complicated when they become teenagers or adults.
I’ve also heard of many harsh disciplinary methods that are fear-provoking. Instilling fear in a child will only cause more complications for them in the future. Fear, in reference to this context, does not include, “you better behave ah, later that uncle will come and catch you.” Instead, it involves a more proactive approach, such as locking up your child in a dark store room or slapping them.
That being said, fear is very much related to hurting them physically or placing them in a scary situation, like leaving them at a cemetery in the middle of the night. Okay, maybe that’s a little exaggerating (or not) but the point here is that, a child naturally grows up not wanting to disappoint their parents and often craves to be validated. And making them fearful of you will only create a distant relationship between you and your child. What’s important to highlight here is that, children should be listening to their parents out of respect, rather than fear.
Coming home from work after a long exhaustive day, it is understandable that we get easily triggered or frustrated having to deal with our child throwing tantrum just because they aren’t allowed to eat chocolates before bedtime. It gets even more frustrating when we are working within a tight deadline to complete certain tasks, whilst having the little ones pestering us about wanting to put on the Elsa dress that’s still in the laundry.
What I’ve learnt is that, disciplining becomes less effective when you’re emotionally caught up with your own anger. It’s a tricky thing, really, but while you think you’re doing some disciplining, you might have subconsciously conveyed a negative message to them. And you know we tend to say mean things out of anger sometimes without us realising it – and sometimes this is called lashing out. You need to be able to rationalise your disciplinary actions; that way, you can keep your emotions in check. And by rationalising your actions, it means your priority should be for the benefit of your child instead of yours.
Speaking of anger, be careful not to make your child a scapegoat or an emotional punching bag – and in some cases, using them to go against your spouse. I’ve heard of a parent who had intentionally starved their children as a consequence of feeling dissatisfied with their spouse. This is cray cray stuff, people. Do NOT try this at home. Please leave the poor child out of your marital problems. I can almost guarantee you that it will have a long-term emotional effect regardless whether you think they might be too young to comprehend certain things.
When it comes to disciplining your child, try to avoid threatening statements, such as, “if you don’t behave, mommy will not sayang you ah” or “you do that again, I will send you to that uncle!” These statements are particularly damaging for children who have insecurities in regards to their relationship with their parents. Also, wouldn’t you think it’s a little unfair to pose such threats to them? Even as adults, I doubt it’s a pleasant feeling to be threatened as such.
Being a parent and doing parenting stuff is never a walk in the park, and it does get tiring sometimes. It’s without a doubt that every parent would want the best for their child, but having a good intention does not justify our actions – actions do speak louder than words. If your child is misbehaving, perhaps there’s something he or she craves to tell you and I shall leave that for the next topic. 😉