By Johan Koekemoer
Ask any person who has watched a parent in a shopping center while the toddler screams for more treats, and you will soon realize that discipline is a huge problem in our society. However, it does not have to turn into a nightmare.
A disciplined environment plays an important role in making children feel secure. Children learn by testing boundaries, but when they are in an environment where the boundaries are not clear, children soon feel unsafe. To prevent this, it is necessary to influence children’s behavior correctly.
In most cases, this is managed by focusing on what is prohibited behavior. However, this strategy is reactive and not sustainable, especially since children’s ability to explore new forms of misbehavior is never-ending.
A proactive value-driven strategy for discipline is the most sustainable way to raise children who feel safe. Because in an environment where children clearly know where the boundaries are, they feel nurtured and safe.
Here are five tips for you:
Rethink the usefulness of a discipline system
Consistency, even when there is a discipline system, is an ongoing problem that is always reactive in nature. Children’s bad behavior is punished, but they have to learn the lesson again and again. Therefore, it is necessary to think about whether a discipline system that focuses on negative behavior is necessary. Rather, focus on behaving in an exemplary manner, which is really meaningful in the long term, than on drawing up a set of rules that must be complied with, so that discipline does not degenerate into an external locus of control.
Examine establishment of value system
The establishment of a value system is a sustainable way to ensure that you know which principles you would like to see in your children. The pattern of behavior that parents and teachers deliberately decide on must also be lived out by the parents themselves. A value system can be packaged in behavior by introducing cultural traditions. A simple example is, we always pray before we eat, because our family is always grateful.
Make your child(ren) part of the process
To get the buy-in of your children, it is important to make them part of the process of putting together a value system. Let your children provide input on the list of values and encourage them to hold each other accountable based on the value systems set by parents and teachers.
Deal with each case as quickly as possible with the individual
When there is a violation, there are three things that must happen.
- Punishment must soon follow the offence. Don’t wait to dole out punishment. It is often difficult for a child to understand why he/she is only punished later when the offense has long been forgotten.
- Punish with a just or soft heart
Every child is unique and reacts differently to punishment and the punishment should be personalized. Some have to apologize, others have to be alone in the room for a while.
Punishment without anger: If we punish out of anger, then we have lost, because then we are modeling how someone who cannot regulate themselves behaves.
Lead by example
The root word for discipline is disciple. As Jesus was an example for His followers, you must also be an example for your children. Do not expect them to follow a value system that you do not follow. Children are never too young to learn and are watching you even if you don’t realize it. So act worthy of emulation!
- This article is based on a presentation at the Solidarity Schools Support Centre s national congress in 2023 by Johan Koekemoer, head of teaching and learning at the SOS.