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Parenting in the 21st Century – Part 3

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James O. James

Today, we shall be looking at the issue of discipline in bringing up our children, because as far as I am concerned, this is an area where many haven’t gotten it right because they don’t know better.

Firstly, I must state that when children go astray, the blame cannot be totally that of the parents because there’re some children that no matter what you do, you cannot control the way they turn out. Secondly, I am concerned that the way we were brought up is no longer the way children these days are being trained. Many of us in the older generation are grateful to our parents for the level of discipline we were exposed to, without which we wouldn’t be who we are today.

How to handle children’s discipline
• The first thing to understand is that things have changed drastically. Children these days ask a lot of questions you and I dare not ask in our days growing up. So, learn to talk with your children and answer their questions.

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• Make sure the discipline of the children isn’t left to one of the partners. I have heard some mothers tell their misbehaving children “wait until Daddy comes”, thereby turning the man into a monster in the sight of the children. Both the father and mother must be involved in the discipline of the children.

• Never openly rebuke your partner, when he/she is disciplining the children, even if you don’t like the method being employed. Support openly but rebuke privately.

• The Bible, which says, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is right on point. However, there is a difference between flogging a child to discipline him/her and flogging him/her as a punishment. It is the idea of punishment that leads to brutalising a child.

• Avoid leaving marks on your children’s bodies. The hurt may last longer than the scar.

• Let the child know why he/she is being disciplined. When you flog a child without telling the child the reason, it amounts to physical abuse and the child may never forgive or forget.

• Saying ‘no’ to your children’s demands. There are some parents, who once the child cries a bit, they provide whatever the child is asking for; forgetting that a child who has never heard the word “no” hasn’t learnt the greatest lesson in life. Every child must learn that in the real world, you cannot have all you desire.

• Teach your children to take responsibility for their actions. When they do well, praise them but if they misbehave, do not hesitate to discipline them. Never excuse your children’s misbehavior or sweep the issue under the carpet.

• Allow others to help you discipline your children, especially at school or in church. Parents who quarrel with teachers in school and church for disciplining their children are not wise.

• Have a code of conduct (golden rules) for your home and let them know what behaviours are unacceptable.

• Be consistent with discipline. If you discipline a child for doing a particular thing, make sure if another child does the same thing, he/she gets the same treatment.

• Don’t exhibit favoritism among your children. It’s possible you may love a particular child more than the other, but always try not to openly show it. This is one major cause of sibling quarrels.

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