THE VALUE OF DISCIPLINE

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In one way or another, every parent tries to be the best model they can be for their child. And truly, some parents – more than others – have to deal with their fair share of their child’s difficult behaviour. In this day and age, parenting has become more daunting than ever as nurturing adults juggle with their jobs, housework, errands and children.

This fast-paced world might be taking its toll on adults and might be the reason as to why some are going a little too easy on their kids. Some parents may be reluctant to discipline because they want to avoid having conflicts, or because they don’t want their child to be angry at them. Others may be unable or unwilling to devote time and energy to the task of disciplining their offspring. Maybe some parents who had had very little when they were young themselves want to make sure that their children do not miss out on anything, and as a result, go to the other end of the spectrum by giving them pretty much everything.

Treating children like spoilt princes and princesses will eventually backfire. Parents could end up always feeling obliged to provide for their children, even when they’re over eighteen years of age, as is the case here in Malta. This could lead them to lack social skills that are important for making friends, such as empathy, patience, and knowing how to share.

Egoism can lead to the erosion of a civil society. If children are not disciplined, they will lack self-control. We’ll be hurting them along the way, as they’ll find it harder later on in life to know what is appropriate behaviour. This will make it difficult for them to relate to people around them.

I believe that children who are disciplined have a tendency to be better at self-control when they grow up. They find it easier to set boundaries, show respect, be consistent and cooperate with others. This will probably lead to less misbehaviour at school. When a child is disciplined in a loving, positive, and logical way for doing something wrong, they will learn to take responsibility for their actions. Healthy discipline provides kids with an opportunity to reflect on their misbehaviour and to recognise alternative solutions to a problem. This leads to analytical thinking.

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Of course, not all those who’ve been taught discipline will grow to be well-mannered; there are always exceptions to the rules. Other factors such as peer groups can always leave a negative impact on a child. However, I believe that it’s much easier to return to your ground roots if you’ve had a disciplined childhood but have taken the wrong path later on, than vice-versa.

Now, hold your horses. Before anyone points their finger and accuses me of being a traditionalist, there’s no such thing as old-fashioned discipline and manners. They’ve stood the test of time and in the long run, if we’ve raised our children well, we’ll be the ones to prosper from this when we’re older and cared for by the younger generations. Discipline doesn’t mean spanking or hurting the child emotionally and physically. It’s about trying to raise a child to be responsible and understand that for every action, there is a reaction.

Fortunately, children have rights nowadays. They cannot be spanked at school, and bullying and violence have come much more to light, and rightly so of course. However, this doesn’t mean that we have to eradicate the past and assume that all that was taught is wrong. Children have obligations too, and we’d be doing them a favour in preparing them for the realities of life and work in correcting them to assume their responsibilities when they’re wrong.

We have to be cruel to be kind, and in the long run we will reap the benefits. One of our main contributions to society is to raise disciplined children. Love and discipline should work hand in hand, not against each other like enemies.