In the previous blog, I shared the insights I got from the parents who attended Session 5 of K Mummy’s Focus Group on why we need to be disciplined.
This blog is a continuation and I will share the insights I have gathered from the second half of the discussion.
I asked the following questions,
Q: Do you think children need to be disciplined? Why?
All mummies agreed unanimously that our children need discipline. One mummy shared that through discipline, they will have a proper routine to follow through and to grow to be a better person and to achieve more in life such as being productive.
Another mummy shared that discipline is necessary as it would give our children a sense of structure and boundaries.
Last but not least, discipline is needed for our children to be responsible and have self-control.
I feel that children need to be disciplined too, although not in a regimental or detrimental way. I believe in allowing the child to exercise free will. Yes, they may not know how to make all decisions themselves, as parents we can give yes and yes options for the child. For example, morning routine, we can ask our children if they would like to make the bed first or shower? Instead of making it too rigid and making it be about us and our preference as parents if you get what I mean.
Of course, when I mention free will, we do not give them the option that could sabotage our children’s character building, for example, waking up to computer games is a recipe for predictable setbacks in studies, health and more. ( I was a gamer during my teens so gaming addiction could be a cause for concern)
Sometimes parents are too strict especially when it comes to studies. I know I am just forming my opinion here, I am just inviting parents to reconsider their priorities for their children and that whatever decisions they make for their children, children’s health, wellbeing and character building such as inculcating leadership, courage, resilience and decision making skills, MUST be the number one priority.
Think about it, after studies, children will become working adults and they need all the characters mentioned above to make choices in life and as parents, we cannot possibly be around them all the time to help them navigate the challenges in lives.
This requires access to personal growth and development and it begins with the parents. If parents do not invest in their personal growth and development, chances are they would impart a character or self-defeat, fear and worry in their children.
To live a life worrying is not living.
For example, parents would tend to discipline their children from fear. Fearing that the child would not succeed in life, career-wise and financially, through this fear they spend too much time drilling the child to study and study. The child may grow up constantly fearing for their future whenever they do not achieve milestones after milestones and there would come a time when the child would face hardships in life and that hardship had nothing to do with the cognitive function but rather, an emotional one, how then do you think he or she learn to override that foreign block when they are not in touch with their emotions and learn how to manage the emotional setbacks?
I may sound like I am deviating from the topic. I am still on the topic, just that I am emphasising the importance of disciplining the child from a holistic angle. Refer to the blog in session two for the list of wellbeings one should aim to accomplish in life for a whole and well-rounded outcome in life.
Q: How can we discipline our children effectively and positively?
Be firm and follow through.
Not in a regimental sense but rather meaning what you say and being clear of why you are creating a discipline around certain tasks or routines. If you are wishy-washy about the tasks that you want your child to follow through, then why do you think they should even listen in the first place? It gives out a signal that it is not that important. Do not confuse the child. I see this a lot. It is not only confusing observing the exchange but it’s confusing for the child too and sometimes the child got a scolding for being confused.
Here is an example of how you can be firm and confusing;
“I need you to stick to your schedule as promised and be ready by 1 PM. If you can’t then be ready by the latest 2 PM and if you don’t feel like it then maybe we do it tomorrow.”
Be firm and offer no leeway of what needs to get done.
“Do you want to go to a picnic today? If yes, I need you to be ready by 1 PM. If you are not ready by then, we will not go for a picnic today.” Then stick to it. If you keep giving leeways for them being late, they won’t make your timeline seriously and will continue to delay the timing.
Each time that they follow through with what you asked of them, always acknowledge them by saying something specific like this,
“I can see that you are on time exactly as instructed and I appreciate you being on time and for listening, it will give us ample time to spend for a good family bonding over a picnic and we won’t be rushing the day.”
Fill up love tank. Give them our attention.
When we discipline our children, we want to discipline them out of love and it is very important for our children to feel the love rather than assuming that they knew that we are coming from love. Each person has different love languages. It is important that you know what is the other person’s language of love and to express that love base on how they want to feel loved.
For example, if the child’s language of love is through receiving gifts, then you would want to discipline the child in a way that they know that a gift awaits them whenever they fulfil their end of the bargain, of course, we do not want to “bribe” our children, we want to let them know that their efforts mean a lot to you as their parents and that it would also help them in their life too and if they accomplish tasks consistently, you want to let them know that they will get a gift as a gesture of love and support and that you are not disciplining them to torture them but you are doing it out of love. This has to be communicated!
Be honest and take the time to explain why rather than forcing them.
Sometimes as parents when we discipline our children on certain tasks, we do not instil discipline for us to also complete similar tasks for ourselves. For example, if we want our children to clean up after themselves, we as parents sometimes fail to clean up after our mess too. In this scenario, one mummy shared how she is being completely honest with her daughter by explaining to her daughter that she did not have the habit when she was young and it is a lot harder for an adult to change old habits and that is why she wouldn’t want her daughter to follow her footsteps of not being disciplined from young.
I know that this may sound like an excuse to some, but hey! At least she is being honest and not pretend that she is this perfect person in front of her child.
I do this too, exercise being honest, for example, if I wanted to watch a late-night show and my child needed to be in bed early for school tomorrow, I would take the time to explain this “double standard” and said that mummy needed time off from mummy duties and that it was my time off for that day and I did not have to wake up too early in the morning and I would still get my 8 hours of sleep. I then said to my sons,
“You on the other hand need to wake up early for school and would you want to attend class feeling like a sleepless zombie?”
I am exaggerating the zombie part but you get the drift.
Discipline their actions, not them.
This is very important. Sometimes when we want to discipline our children, we would resort to personal attacks, we get emotionally charged and we might become angry when things do not get done.
Always exercise mindfulness when speaking to our children. Be mindful of our emotional states when we interact with another person. Address the behaviour and not the child as a person.
Here is an example of correcting a child’s behaviour,
“I need you to wake up right this moment, your behaviour is not helping me right now, I am running late to send you to school because you are still in bed. I need your cooperation to stick through what you promised me.”
“Why are you always waking up late? You are so stubborn, lazy and that is why you are such a failure and you will never succeed in life.”
Here’s my secret, I have ever scolded my child out of anger and attacked my sons personally with my words.
On occasions, when that happened, I would immediately apologise to my sons and make sure that they understood that those words were an outcome of me not being able to keep my cool and that it was unacceptable of me to direct those words at them.
Today, my children knew not to take words from an angry or upset person seriously or too personally and they become such compassionate teens when they are occasionally faced with angry family members, friends or teachers in school.
They also learnt to calm an angry person down, before expecting the angry person to be rational.
My children had been through with me during my periods of anxiety attacks many years ago before I have self-mastery in managing my emotions, this is also the reason why I am an advocate of happy parenting and inner peace because when we learn how to be compassionate with ourselves and our mistakes and learn to be happy through our internal resources and learn to experience inner peace consistently, it rubs off to our children too.
Join us in our upcoming K Mummy’s Focus Group session for meaning the exchange of ideas on various self-mastery topics to bring about positivity in our lives.