As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children how to behave properly and bring them up to be kind, understanding, decent human beings. While there is a general understanding, that corporal punishment is unacceptable and damaging to kids, many parents still punish their kids when they misbehave.
There is, however, a growing number of child psychologist, advocating parenting free of any form of punishment. They have been outlining the ill-effects of punishment and have listed the following disadvantages:
- Punishment creates fear in children
- Punishment does not teach children why rules are in place
- Punishment does not teach kids to make moral choices
- Punishment does not foster emotional intelligence
- Punishment fuels aggression
- Punishment makes kids feel bad
Looking at the above list, one would have to conclude that there must be a better way of teaching kids how to behave.
A Word on Yelling
Parents yell when they are frustrated and feel disrespected. Is yelling ever a viable option and acceptable practice? Hardly! We don’t like to be yelled at and therefore we shouldn’t yell at our kids either. It’s aggressive and not only do we let our kids down, we also let ourselves down.
Discipline and Loving Guidance
Children do not always behave well, nor do they always want to. They test boundaries and try out what behaviours are acceptable and which ones aren’t. That’s how kids learn and we may as well accept this fact. Knowing that and being aware that it is our duty to teach kids to behave appropriately and be kind to others, we have to find way of disciplining our kids without punishment.
Loving guidance is perhaps the best way to describe this new type of parenting. By lovingly showing kids how to treat others and themselves, we enable them to distinguish between right and wrong and bring them up to be emotionally intelligent people. It is vital to help kids understand why certain behaviours are unacceptable so that they can make their own appropriate choices.
How to Practice Loving Guidance
There are a few basic principles involved in loving guidance parenting:
- Leading By Example: Parents need to lead by example, by living as loving, respectful individuals. By doing so, kids experience the kindness of their parents directly while also witnessing kindness towards friends and strangers. Kids often imitate their parents’ behaviour, which further increases the importance of leading by example.
- Staying Calm: Staying calm can often be one of the most difficult tasks. When tempers are frayed and kids press all your buttons, keeping your cool requires a lot of discipline and effort. As parents, we ought to find ways of keeping our anger and frustration in check. It is important to remember that, as a rule, kids don’t misbehave out of malice, but are simply testing the waters. Taking a deep breath, using a particular mantra or trying to distract and diffuse a tense situation is essential. Ultimately, parents must diffuse rather than add fuel to the fire with yelling and anger.
- Giving Guidance: If your children are fighting, explain why such behaviour is inappropriate, calm the situation down and foster communication between the kids. If emotions are running exceedingly high, simple “time out” techniques can give kids the chance to calm down. The aim is to teach kids how to treat others with kindness, understanding, a sense of fairness and sensitivity.
- Staying Connected: Parents often temporarily withdraw their love from kids when they misbehave. This further infuses the situation and only makes matters worse. Even when your kid goes crazy, stay connected, calm her/him down and lovingly explain why such behaviour is inappropriate.
- Emotional Empowerment: This is your chance to empower your child to make intelligent emotional choices. A sister can learn why it is best not to hit her brother. A brother can experience that taking someone’s toy isn’t nice. Let them experience the results of their action so that when a similar situation arises they can make better emotional choices without you having to force it upon them.
We are all hoping that our kids will grow up to be decent and kind people and perhaps laying kindness as the basis of our parenting is not such a bad idea.