Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Disciplining children

with 4 comments

I had the chance on my trip to think about and observe disciplining young children. The Younger Grandson, at age 3, is interesting in testing rules and seeing what happens if he breaks the rules and refuses to obey. So: what is a parent to do?

One approach is physical punishment: “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is the slogan for this approach. Of course, hitting a disobedient child can also satisfy an angry parent.

But, in the case of young children, discipline is teaching, and the lessons the child learns are not always what the parent intends. The child generally takes the parent’s behavior as the model, so a child who is physically punished tends to learn not only to obey that particular rule (and to fear the parent) but also, “If someone displeases you, hit them or otherwise take physical revenge—especially if they’re smaller than you.”

What I observed was not physical punishment, but instead methodically teaching The Younger Grandson to empathize: to feel for himself how his actions and behavior affect those around him, and in particular how his behavior affects those he loves. Good behavior makes them feel happy and pleased, and bad behavior makes them feel hurt and sad. Once he has learned empathy, he can navigate social relations on his own.

It’s not an easy lesson to learn, and the teacher must patiently repeat the lesson—both parts—until the child understands and absorbs it, internalizing it as a guide to behavior. But then the child becomes self-regulating: he looks at how his actions affect others and understands and anticipates their reactions.

Moreover, the child learns how to respond to bad behavior from others—not by hitting them, but by explaining how the behavior makes him and others feel. The child’s imitating the parent in this approach is all to the good.

The parents’ responsibility is to teach the child, and that requires knowing that the teaching goes on all the time, willy nilly, because the child is always observing and learning. The parent must make sure that what the child observes and learns are appropriate.

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Written by Leisureguy

25 August 2006 at 8:07 am

Posted in Daily life

4 Responses

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  1. Your grandson is about the age of my son (mine is 2 years and 4 months). I’ll consider your advices as I find it really difficult to keep a good balance between not hurting his pride and help him avoid dangers (or save from destruction everything he can reach 🙂 )



    27 August 2006 at 12:07 pm

  2. nice…my son is about to turn 3 and he is definitely entering the rule-testing phase. We would never spank him (or hurt him physically) for the exact reasons you mentioned above. Instead, we simply keep insisting (we may start and ask him to help) or, if the behavior might hurt others, remind him of how this makes others feel (similar to what you said above). One thing we’ve noticed is that sometimes they need specific guidance as to how to comply with demands. in other words, if you want him or her to clean up their toys, they may not know where to start if you say “clean up your toys.” if, however, you ask them to pick up a certain toy (and tell them where to put it) they will start putting the rest away (kind of like momentum theory in behaviorism).

    Nice work!



    16 January 2007 at 11:06 am

  3. i am a mother an was a full time mom of 3 boys now ages 21-25 & 30. when they were growing up i gave them 3 warnings on probable “offenses”… if they do this or that, then i will serve the first warning with a raised index finger waving “no-no-no” and if the offense will be done a second time, i will specifically say “i will spank your little hand if you do that again…. and if he did, then i will deliver the mini spanking on little hands once.. then warn again that if the same offense takes place -2 mini spanking he will get… and deliver the same with the 2nd spank with higher degree… and warn of a 3rd spanking with increasing number… not only did i convey- i mean what i say, but also teach him how to count…

    i have a big rattan box where they could keep their toys, so at the end of the day or night for that matter i would start “shooting” every toy into the box and they would each compete in “shooting” so the toys are kept in there in no time…. even earthquake drills are conducted in our house like games… i would shout earthquake and i head under the big table and they would run to follow me… during the Mt. Pinatubo erruptions that drill was maximized as we had multiple earthquakes for almost 12 hours and they had fun running in and out of the table…….
    i watched Sesame Street with all of them one at a time.. then i would engage them in finding the letter for the day in between showing… finding and sounding the letter is a game for us.. our house was their pre-school.. they learned the basics at home. they started school as Grade 1 students and they all did well till college. my youngest will graduate this March in Nursing and is a consistent scholar… my second son is employed as a Java Programmer at STMPI Clark, Angeles City; my eldest is a Communications Specialist at Sutherland also in Clark…

    Me… i started working since 3 years ago as a Health Educator at our City Hall here in the City of San Fernando Pampanga Philippines. God Bless!



    24 August 2007 at 5:49 pm

  4. Children nowadays are much smarter and braver than before. Even though we spank them as a punishment, they tend to fight back. They will show their anger by doing things like not talking to us or hit someone who are much smaller than them. Well, I say this based on my experienced with my own child. So naughty. 😦



    27 August 2007 at 1:36 am

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