Today I want to look briefly at the issue of discipline. We will explore how to discipline a child without breaking the spirit of the child. In the 21st century the child is no longer supposed to be seen and not heard. Sometimes hearing them helps us know what next to do and what not to do. Anyway let me start from the very beginning so that I can be clear in what I want to say…
A child is a unique being, every child is different, one size cannot fit all.
Observation is key.
We must know our children. Always start from observation. What interests the child, what don’t they like doing? Something as easy as this can help save the day with your temperamental toddler. Imagine this
One day Yemisi was visiting Remi, her old classmate who had a 3 and a half-year old toddler, Temi. While Yemisi and Remi were busy talking, Temi sat on Yemisi’s lap. Remi was surprised as Temi was not usually that friendly with people she was not used to. She soon found out why her daughter forgot that Yemisi was a stranger.
Temi has her eyes focused on Yemisi’s beautiful purple earrings which matched her shoes and bag. She was stylishly dress, but for Temi it was the earrings that intrigued her and she was bent on pulling out the big earrings off Yemisi’s ears.
At first it seemed funny then Temi would not stop and it was becoming a big struggle to stop her… Remi knew that her daughter loved working with a bead and string set and she usually would leave everything and just get engrossed in that activity. So she called her over, showing her the set, immediately Temi comes over , now distracted she leaves her aunty and her earrings, settles down and starts beading!
No shouting, spanking or canning. Just your observation, and ability to use that to change the narrative.
You still need to deal with the bad behaviour but it will be dealt with later not right there when it is hot and really sticky. If Remi did not re-direct the child to something she is interested in then it may have not ended well.
Now once auntie has left and your child has calmed down you would need to talk through the correct way to behave.
Remember she is just a child not an adult. This should be a teaching time, but at an age appropriate level.
You could start by asking her first questions about the clothes and other accessories she may have on, let her answer the questions
‘Who does this blouse belong too?’
‘Who does the shoes you have on belong to?’
‘What about the skirt I have on?’
Say to your child
‘You see, somethings belong to you , some to me and other people have their own things’
‘If I like your shoes is it alright for me to snatch them off you, so I can take a look?’
‘Would you like that?’
‘How would you feel if I did that to you?’
So by the time your child has answered these questions and you then ask:
‘How do you think Auntie felt when you tried to take her earrings off?’
Temi would understand without any problems that what she did was wrong.
Now the lessons has not ended yet…
Ask her why she wanted to take the earring off your friend. Ask lots of why questions? You are looking for
‘I liked it, it’s beautiful, I wanted to touch it, I wanted to hold it.’
Say to her
‘That’s really great, you know next time you like something that does not belong to you and you would like to have a closer look you need to ask the owner first and wait for an answer!’
Your child may ask you
‘But what if she says no?’
This is a legitimate question and even if she does not ask you must cover this as well.
‘Well if she does say no, you must understand that she means ‘No!’ It belongs to her and she may have a good reason for not letting you touch it.’
This is an opportunity to role play different scenarios with your child so that she can have practice in a fun way asking for permission to view things that do not belong to her more closely. You should provide scenes where the adult agrees and in some cases does not agree to her getting the items. This prepares your child, so that the next time she knows exactly what to do.
A lot of it has to do with intentional teaching, correctional training, but always in a loving and fun way. Re direct bad behaviour and then deal with it later. But in dealing with it be patient and teach, look for ways to help your child understand, right from wrong.
It is hard work, I know but the difference with a child you teach this way is they would have learnt good behaviour which they can apply to many other situations. They are becoming confident, self controlled and emotionally mature without stress and a broken spirit.
In short there needs to be a mindset change on how we view the child if we are to discipline our children in a more child friendly manner. There will be more posts to come later, about other ways on how to discipline a child.