By Dona S. Adihetty

Positive discipline Learning is an important part of growing up. Children learn from what they see around them and from what they see others do. That is why it is important for parents to act in ways we want our children to act.
Disciplining children is a normal part of parenting but disciplining is definitely NOT smacking! Many of us may have been smacked during our childhood and some of us may think that a ‘good smack’ will NOT do any harm. If you were ever smacked, think back to the negative effect it had on you.
Discipline works better when it helps the child choose what is right, rather than forcing the child to act in a certain way. In fact, the first meaning of the word ‘discipline’ is about learning and training, rather than punishing. Simple, positive discipline works well when we:

  • Talk and listen to children.
  • Remember, they are children.
  • Keep things simple and not expect too much.
  • Set clear rules and stick to them.
  • Praise and reward good behaviour with hugs and smiles.
  • Talk about unacceptable behaviour rather than tell the child that she or he is bad.
  • Tell children what you want them to do, not just what they are doing wrong.
  • Let children be part of decisions.

A child could be affected in many ways by what is happening around them. As adults, we forget that children are very perceptive. A child may be perceived to be “difficult” because they try your patience and wear you down and sometimes, such a child may be treated with less affection. This is unfair on the child. Children do not and should not be expected to think or act like adults.
Families have the most important role for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their child.
If you are a family member or a friend of someone struggling to cope with parenting, offer assistance without ‘telling them what to do’. Be there to listen. Offer a hand, or advice if asked. Aim to build up both the parent and child’s confidence.
There are many other people that can lend support to parents. These include child health nurses, your local doctor, child care services, and local groups like nursing mothers. Many groups can be found through your local paper, library or child health nurse. Or one could call the parenting line to get information on what is available. Remember, you are not alone and there is help out there.
In the next series, I will touch on the different forms of child abuse and our obligation to ensure the wellbeing and safety at children at all times.