It is a popular saying that he who spares the rod spoils the child, the proverb is used to justify discipline in its various forms; from teachers to parents and guardians, the proverb never loses its relish. When it comes to disciplining a child, like many other things, there are different schools of thought to it. Some believe that discipline is old-fashioned and has no place in the modern world. Some others believe that discipline is a must, while there are those who preach moderation.
This week on WhatsApp Conversation, we delved into the issue of where discipline is administered. Are there places where a child cannot be disciplined? The question posed was about discipline in public. Here are the answers we got:
Don’t embarrass yourself in public, the teens and youths of today are a rare breeds and they should be treated as such. If the child in question is below the teenage bracket, it might do some good, otherwise, it would be an exercise in futility. The environment plays a huge role as well, however, the public space is not the best to train a child. You’ll see teenagers these days and wonder how they grew. Not like their parents didn’t scold them but the environment played a lot on them. You’ll see some kids their parents never touched them and they turned out well.
As a Yoruba woman with home training, we must discipline our children accordingly. Sometimes if your child deserves to be disciplined in public, there is nothing wrong in it. A child that you have disciplined at home but didn’t listen and go on in the public to disgrace you, deserve to be disciplined publicly. It depends on what the child does. For example, you take your child out and he went to steal (God forbid) he was exposed and everybody is abusing the child, you have to discipline such a child in public and again when you get home, he needs to be disciplined again. There are times you have to be deliberate with the public discipline in order to show an example, one that is worthy of emulating.
It is fine, depending on the level of the mistake committed by the child and the kind of public environment where the child committed the mistake. For instance, a child can’t be rude to an adult in public and the parent won’t take action immediately. In such a scenario, it is the only right thing to do.
To discipline a child in public is to show a better way of “not sparing a rotting child”. We were brought up that way, to show that, others who are not parents if my child were/ are invited to assist in making my child a better breed morally and socially! Disciplining a child secretly or at home is oftentimes believed to be treating such a child with ‘kid’s gloves’ thereby pretending to be lenient and psychologically simple, believing that the child will listen more. It is the wide gap between the less developed and the developed world that determines “Home and Public” discipline. Since corporal punishment has been abolished in Schools, an equivalent of discipline in public, we all know what we see today, the past 20 years has done a lot of damage to our moral fabric. Pretending and assisting modernization by disciplining at Home only will not help our society.
Looking at the definition of discipline, one will find out that discipline is not all bad in itself. It is the way we have taken it in Africa. Everyone is so particular about beating or scolding a child, how about positive reinforcement? Do we give gifts to youngsters when they behave well? How do parents behave too? These behaviours will rub off on the children and then we complain. Beyond scolding, parents must counsel their wards. All of these must happen within the house. We can also exploit the principle of natural consequences. Expose your wards to the fact that when they do certain things, certain results will follow naturally. If all of these are in place, the chances that a child will have to be disciplined in public become even slimmer.
Mrs Yemi Igbaroola
Our expert for this week is Rhoda Makinde, she runs an organisation called Inspire the Young. The aim of the organisation is to educate parents and guardians on how to best handle complex issues with the younger generation:
It could be bad to discipline a child in public while it could be wrong not to, depending on the child’s understanding and if or not the child is putting other children in danger. We must understand that our children are imitators of characters; they will pick up our actions and those of others around them. This is why parents must be careful of the association they allow their children to keep.
A child like a toddler haven’t gotten the right way and manner to behave in public, he or she is ignorant of the effect it could cause. If the child is a threat to other people, he or she could be disciplined outside and it must come with love because you don’t want your child to feel unloved or inferior. Disciplining a teen in public is complex because it could make the child look stupid which in turn could bring out the worst in him or her. I personally don’t buy into that because he or she should have been well trained at home and if perhaps he or she misbehaves outside, the ideal suggestion would be disciplining him or her at home.
Next week on WhatsApp conversation, we will be exploring the question ‘would you allow your better half to have a best friend of the opposite gender?’ Join the conversation, send a message to 08136601345.
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