Relationship Thursdays: How to discipline your child?

Thursday, 24 July 2014 - 8:12pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Every child presents discipline challenges at every age and every parent has a unique style of instilling discipline and thereby making the child more responsible. Rama Sreekant talks to different parents to find out what works for them

Anchal Gupta, mother of Hirday, 15-years-old and Dhairya, 8-years-old
1)You don't need to give in to their demands right away. Use your right to say NO firmly. This helps the child learn—that he cannot expect demands to be fulfilled immediately, cannot get away with tantrums. They also learn that mothers do keep up their promises
2) Reasoning is very important with the child. You can't get away by yelling and screaming a NO at them. The child gets rebellious and by shouting, we are provoking them to do so. It is best to stay calm, keep your voice low and explain to the child what is wrong and the reason for it. You need to make him aware of the implications. In my experience, this has a long-term effect, once the child understand this, he/she will never repeat the mistake.
Children are very smart, they try their best to see how far you can go without yelling. Just be calm but firm—that's the key.
3. Parents need to be disciplined to discipline their kids. Children behave and act exactly what they see. They observe us and our every little action has a huge impact on their behaviour. So if we expect them to respect elders and we ourselves don't do so, they will do exactly what they witnessed. Your child is watching you at all times, even when you think he isn't.
4, The most pressing issue for all moms with teen kids , especially today, is the usage of Whatsapp. That's an area where disciplining is required the most. I have explained to Hirday how constant messaging on Whatsapp can affects his study time. He has understood and now has a fixed time to check and respond to messages in a day. This way he is able to achieve more in his work and is also connected to his friends.

Shripal Gandhi, father of Dia, 5-years-old
1. It is necessary sometimes for her to fall, to learn that there is a bump. So I would let her be a bad girl and then explain to her, through real life comparison if required, that she should have done something in a particular way.
2. It is okay to take away a few privileges for a limited time to send across a strong message.
3. I like to set a routine for her, which she learns and slowly lives by. I am strictly against corporal punishment.
4. If she makes a mistake, she should be explained that she has made a mistake and then taught to apologise.
5. I encourage her when she realises her mistake and accepts it. That way, she will learn to accept mistakes. I try to instill in her, the courage to own up to her mistakes without having any fear or harsh punishment.

Renuka, mother of Agastya, 1.5-years-old
1. Since my son is just 18-months-old, I am trying different styles of discipline. But distracting him works the best.
2. I make sure to tell him a stern no, when he throws a tantrum. I do not succumb to it.
3. Shouting never works with Agastya, he just finds it amusing.

Ketaki Aikat, mother of Arjun, 8-years-old
1. We have asked him to allocate about an hour and a half, after school, for completion of his home-work and recapitulation of what he does at school, on any particular day. After he does this, he is allowed to play as much as he can, any sport/outdoor games or for that matter anything he wishes to do all through the evening. He can even watch TV and programmes of his choice, after he has adhered to his schedule. This way, we believe, he is not bound by fear or restrictions of not being able to do what generally any child would want to do in the childhood phase.
2. There are certain minor household chores such as laying the table, filling water bottles, keeping things at the right place etc. which have been assigned to him. We make sure that only he does these things. This helps in making him responsible. For e.g. At times, if the bottles are not filled with water especially during summer, he realises that because he did not fill them on time and refrigerate them, he has to drink normal water. He is also responsible for laying the table, so we make sure that food is not served till he lays the table. This makes him realise that he is accountable for those jobs which are assigned to him. Although, some lee-ways are always given to balance the act.
3. We try to practice what we want him to do. It is not always possible to practice idealism, however, we see to it that values like honesty, basic etiquettes, table manners etc. are things which he should learn from our behavior. Children are very observant and they easily pick up your language, behavior etc. and therefore, it is very important to lead by example.
4. We try and discuss a lot of topics with him, so that he is fearless and uninhibited while communicating with us. Even if we reprimand him, at times, we try to explain to him that mistakes won’t lead to punishments but keeping things away would definitely call for strict action. We have therefore, tried to put him into a habit of discussing all that he has done throughout the day, whether it is right/wrong/good/bad and we try to listen to him without being judgmental.
5. We have been successful in disciplining him in two areas, which I feel are very important today—One is that he doesn’t litter. Any paper/waste is carried back home and thrown in the waste paper bin. Second, he is very conscious about water conservation. He always keeps telling everyone in the house to avoid taking shower and instead bathe using bucket water.

Arwa Mahesh, mother of Aditya 10-years-old and Anushka, 5-years-old
1. I give full attention to them only if they speak in a proper tone. Shouting is not encouraged. If they shout, grumble, crib, then I ignore them till they apologise and speak properly. This encourages them to speak clearly, get complete attention of the listener and be polite.

2. Kids are expected to pack their own school bags, clean their shelves, keep their toys back after playing themselves or with friends. I don't serve lunch/dinner/snacks till they complete their tasks. This ensures that they are responsible and independent.

3. There are strict fixed timings for studies, extra-curricular activities, dinner and bedtime on weekdays. All indulgences like watching TV till late, eating out, movies and outings are allowed only on Saturday evenings and Sundays. My kids look forward to the weekend when the disciplined behavior throughout the week is rewarded.

Soumya Ananth, mother of Samhruth, 12-years-old
1. My son was always interested in books and reading stories. So I ensured most lessons in discipline were weaved out of stories. They would be stories where I would introduce the protagonist and other characters (keeping my son's good or bad behaviour in focus) and then ask him to understand the emotions the characters go through. I would ask him questions based on the moral behaviour of the characters in the stories to help him understand what is right/wrong, acceptable/unacceptable.
2. Sometimes I use reverse psychology, I play the child and he plays the role of a parent. I believe developing communication channels is important. Children, today, need reasoning for everything that you tell them.

Anita Khatri, mother of Karran 21-years-old and Simmran, 18-years-old
1. Gen Z is growing up faster than children of the previous generations. Kids expect rationale—you have to tell them the pros and cons of rules, why certain rules are set. You cannot have an authoritative parenting style. That era was different.
2. Each parent knows how much to discipline. Even parents have to go through various trials and errors while instilling discipline in their children.
3. Teenage kids need hand-holding, they are impossible to discipline. You need to set limits and review it regularly. Children are smarter than what we think they are. Most kids understand the limitations of their parents and try to negotiate, in matters of discipline. Parents should also respect their kids. They may falter, but we have to stay firm to teach them what is right/wrong, acceptable/unacceptable.
4. With teenage children, one can deny luxuries which they may otherwise be enjoying. I sometimes, cut their pocket money. For instance, to ensure my daughter keeps her wardrobe organised, I reduced her monthly allowance, which in a way didn't let her attend a rock concert that she wanted to. She eventually understood the importance of being organised.


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