What is discipline?
Discipline has become a very misunderstood word. To many, it means controlling the child, punishing the child, and implanting fear in the mind of the child. For others, discipline connotes allowing children to do as they please because controlling them is bad.
These are extreme views as discussed previously and very damaging for the child.
True discipline, on the other hand, is training and correcting a child so that your child’s moral behaviour and mental faculties are refined to do what is right. Discipline is training by instruction and practice, by encouraging the child to follow specific rules so they can gain self-control. It is a process.
The purpose is to teach the child the difference between right and wrong, it is not to inflict pain or to punish. Discipline also ensures that you can keep him and others safe.
Do you remember those videos where children are off the hook, misbehaving like there is no tomorrow? Throwing books and even furniture all around the room? This is dangerous territory; it is important to help children learn from very early on what kind of behaviour is acceptable. Beating them up when misbehaviour occurs is not the way forward.
Another purpose of discipline is to help the child develop self-control. The child must learn to master his emotions, to achieve this it takes intentionality on the part of the adult, and time for the child to undertake the journey to achieving this goal.
The child must also learn about the consequences of his actions, and the cause and effect of the decisions he makes.
This takes time. One of the things I appreciate about taking one’s time to help the child become self-disciplined is that once they’ve got it, this skill is theirs for life. Discipline is no longer for the child something that is forced on them, but it becomes a part of them. When this happens, you are no longer going to worry about what they will do, instead, you will be confident that your child can hold his own.
It is only when your child has achieved self-discipline that he is independent. Independence means that the child can reason and act correctly on his own. This should be our ultimate goal.
So how do we achieve this?
We will explore this in the next post.