What if I am a mother of three children aged between five and twelve years. I should be as worried as any other mother to maintain discipline in my family. What if I give this familiar instruction to my children? “You have all had your breakfast. So no one should touch the tin of powdered milk on the dining table.” Will the children obey?
Well, if the children are psychologically and spiritually sound and my family situation is so stable that they are sure to get their meals at the appropriate times, the chances are that none of them would touch the milk.
However, the reality of life is that human beings, including children, are imperfect. So, even the children we trust would occasionally manifest wrong behaviours. So we should not completely rule out the possibility that the children, even though they may be morally sound, would occasionally yield to the temptation of tampering with the milk.
What if I eventually discovered that the milk was tampered with?
In a healthy parenting relationship, the child would not repeat the wrong action the moment the mother discovers it and frowns at it. In fact, a child in a non-aggressive parenting environment would willingly admit it. “Mummy, it was I that did it please forgive me, I will not do it again”. The mother may have to demand for explanation, caution gently, withdraw her smiles, withhold a reward and engage in counseling with prayers in order to prevent a recurrence. It may also be necessary to move the tin of milk to a place where it will not be easily accessible and visible to the children.
A child who manifests a bad behaviour occasionally, feels remorseful easily, and would actually not repeat a wrong behaviour for a long time after being cautioned or rebuked is not a delinquent child.
It will be very wrong, and would imply killing an ant with a hammer, to resort to starving the child of milk, brutalising him/her and calling him a thief. Some parents would actually continue to call the child a thief months after the incident. These actions are harmful to the child as well as the parenting relationship. Such wrong actions keep parents busy without achieving any enduring discipline in the child.
- Uchenna N. Nduka
- Parenting is exciting and effective in an atmosphere of love without threats of violence and aggression. This works for parents who believe it.
- Watch out for our future post on how to handle a delinquent child.