DISCIPLINE – Finding the right approach.


He was three at the time. He did something wrong – cannot remember vividly what exactly that was. Then he was summoned by his mom… “Did you do it?” she kept asking, obviously very displeased at what he did. “NO!” he insisted, with that innocent look on his face. But she was sure he did it. So she got really upset and said, “Listen! I will use this” (she was holding a tiny whip) She must have whipped him twice or thrice. Then she called him over a few minutes later for a conversation. “You know I whipped you because you lied. Not because you did that.. I have always said to you, you must tell the truth at ALL times, even if what you did is so wrong…”

She was training him to some good morals, so she believes – As parents/adults, we are usually obligated to!

Ever watched some kids reaction when they do something wrong? Their mood changes totally.. When you quiz them, they could come up with statements such as: “My Mom/Dad is going to beat me.” Or “My Mom/Dad is going to be crossed” or “My Mom/Dad wouldn’t be happy with me, they wouldn’t buy me..”

It’s always about pleasing the adult, isnt it? Rarely about the child being-in-a-self-sorry state(own reflective mood) Why is that? what is wrong with that? we should ask.

Recently, I stumbled on a statement by Kerwin Rae:

“My goal when I’m disciplining my son is not to make him wrong, it’s to make him think.”

He added, Teach your child to think, rather than force behaviours onto them and they will display good behavior on their own without the need for constant warnings or conditions.

He continued, Always remember to remain calm. Don’t yell. And be open to having a discussion about the effects or consequences of their actions.

This got me thinking about the subject matter of child discipline.

I needed to carefully analyze Kerwin Rae’s suggestion considering the fact that it is an evolving discussion. So I started with the dictionary; Finding out what these key words mean: Discipline, correct(ion) and punishment

The Oxford Advanced Dictionary defines these words thus:                                                                                                    

Discipline (Noun) the practice of training people to obey rules and orders and punishing them if they do not. (Verb) to punish somebody for something they have done.

Correct (Something) make something right or accurate for example by changing it or removing mistakes. (Somebody) to tell somebody that they have made a mistake

Correction (Noun) a change that make something more accurate than it was before.

Punishment (Verb) to make somebody suffer because they have done something wrong. To inflict. Rough treatment.

I have taken time to search out these words for the following reasons..

  1. What are we really hoping to achieve when we discipline a child?
  2.  What is the right thing? who determines that?
  3. Is disciplining for the child or the gratification for the adult who is punishing?
  4. How about the adults?

These definition will help us lay the foundation to what exactly we are doing, when we say, we are training children.

As African parents, a large number aim at raising children who would not bring shame/disgrace to the family name. Children often get severely punished at even the slightest misdemeanor, just to instil certain behavior they believe to be right, in their children.

Quite expectedly, some children yield positively to this kind of training, some, negatively. For some, it forms the foundation for building further life skills. This positive outcome makes it impossible to rule out this form of/approach to training. But a large number of the 21st century parents disagree on this. While a few will continue unto this kind of training for their kids, others are seeking a different/better approach instilling good morals/certain behaviour in their children.

The purpose of this publication is to discover if there is and what the right approach to disciplining children are, and revisiting why training is particularly essential at home. Even Teachers today, have challenges understanding the appropriate approach to instilling good behaviour in pupils under their care.

In a follow up article, we will critically look at:

  1. Why partners disagree on what’s appropriate punishment for the child
  2. What age do you start disciplining a child
  3. What really alerts a child when he or she does wrong
  4. What’s the best ways to instil right behavior in children
  5. Is Kerwin Rae’s advice something to consider

What are you hoping to achieve when disciplining a/your child-ren?