Who is screaming and shouting? The parent or child?- Disciplining your child can be child’s play-
Children misbehave when they are-
Most of the time parents look at the misbehaviour and either scold, punish, threaten the child for the misbehaviour and do not look into the reason that lead to the misbehaviour. This means adults do not try to understand children. They try to have patience with children, and then they always run the risk off running out of patience
We understand children, when they are babies. We don’t blame them for crying, we try and understand why they are crying and try to resolve the reason so that they stop crying. But as the child grows older, he/she acquires language, movement and the ability to act out his/her needs and hence now does not only rely on crying, but resorts to angry behaviour or tantrums and now instead of looking into the reason, we either blame him/her for having the reason or we blame him/her for the ‘act’ he/she chose to get our attention.
Where discipline is concerned always remember a golden mantra- “Happy children will never hit, bite, scream, shout or misbehave.” Think about it, if you are happy with life, with the people around you, would you feel like hitting someone? or throwing things? or hurting someone? No. you will not. Similarly with a child, when ever a child misbehaves or throws a tantrum understand that he/she is upset and something or someone is making him/her unhappy. Try to find the reason , maybe, any one of the ‘four causes’ mentioned above are troubling him/her.
- its not only related to pure and simple hunger, sometimes the body requires special food and so the child can be cranky, irritable or the child is getting too much of a particular food (could be salt, sugar) and behaves or rather misbehaves to draw attention to his/her need.
- Children are also known to be fidgety and inattentive when they are thirsty.
- they can be tired physically or tired of concentrating, like on doing too many worksheets etc
- or tired after coming from school and need to just sit for 5 minutes but we harass them to change, eat, and go down to play.
- Tired, can be of too many activities one after the other, and need to just sit and maybe do nothing.
- Tired can also be of ‘being always told what to do’, no choice , no freedom etc.
- And this kind of tiredness can lead children to be irritable, angry, and also make them throw things, bawl, scream and bite.
- upset can be because,’I did not get what I want’,
- or upset can be an upset stomach,
- upset can be a feeling of fright, fear, and separation anxiety.
- Upset can be ‘I fell down and you scolded me, instead of hugging me and reassuring me that it is o.k. to fall, be careful the next time’.
- Upset can be that you promised me something and did not give it to me.
- Upset can be that you gave me two choices and then made me do what you want.
- Upset can be a lot of reasons and upset generally makes me throw a tantrum, or wail and cry or I beat you the adult because I am so frustrated that you cannot see and recognise my need.
- A new baby can make children feel ignored.
- A new guest in the house can make them feel ignored.
- Even a new appliance in the house can make them feel ignored.
- Ignored can be that I drew a lovely picture and you did not ask me about it.
- Ignored can be that I wanted to chatter and talk all the way to the market or school and you kept talking to others.
- Ignored can be that I wanted some company while I did my homework and you were busy on the phone.
- And when I am feeling ignored I will do all I can to get you to pay attention to me.
- When nothing else works I do negative things that get you to scold me or shout at me, because that too is attention.
Discipline, behaviour, behaviour management, whatever you call it, it must be intrinsic and not extrinsic. This means the child must feel loved enough to know how to express his/her needs. He/she should not feel fearful or threatened. The more you scold children, threaten them, beat them you are putting them into a vicious cycle of negative feelings.
Children need to be taught ways of expressing their feelings and how to deal with them. Children need to learn what to do when others upset them. Children learn by imitation, so it is we adults who should show them the acceptable ways of behaviour. If we are going to shout and scream to get their attention, then they learn the same. If we are going to bang things when we are angry, then they learn the same.
For very young children, say under three years, the best way to handle them when they are upset or angry or throwing a tantrum is in three ways-
- Change activity
-helps when children have fallen into a habit of crying to get attention. Over a period of time with consistency if you ignore them when they cry etc but give them attention when they do not cry and the child learns that the negative behaviour is not working and will slowly adopt the positive behaviour. Ignoring is not to be used only after the child completes one year.
–works even in the biggest tantrum. ‘ look what I found in this box’ followed by an action of covering your hand over the box, makes the child intrigued enough to stop the crying or the tantrum, and helps in distracting him, most children forget the tantrum once distracted. But it also depends if the distraction was interesting enough, because if it was a let down then ‘I will resort to a bigger tantrum’. So work on your distractions! And by the way, ‘look the crow took away your bottle’ etc does not work on this generation! Be more creative.
Change of activity
–is like redirecting his/her attention to a new activity. Maybe he/she is tired of the situation etc and needs to forget about it by getting involved in something else. So a change of activity works well.
Should we whack and smack children?
I am sure if you were to truthfully to answer this question, you would say sometimes.And then you will justify it by saying, ‘sometimes it is important there is no way out, so it is o.k. if it is done in extreme situations’.
Well , it isn’t.
Any form of whacking or smacking is still child abuse. You may say that I slapped my child because I love him/her and want him/her to improve, but you are only teaching the child that hitting is a form of showing love, and they will then grow up accepting violence and violent people, domestic violence stems from such childhood experiences. CHILDREN WHO ARE SMACKED ASSOCIATE LOVE AND VIOLENCE AS THE SAME. AND SO IN FUTURE EITHER THEY TURN VIOLENT OR ACCEPT VIOLENCE TOWARDS THEMSELVES.
Some guidelines for making discipline child’s play-
- Threats, punishments and shaming, release stress hormones which are harmful for the brain.
- Focus on the positive all the time rather than always correcting your child for the negative behaviour
- Know when to give in and when to pull back.
- If you beat, the child will learn to hit.
- If you shout, the child will learn to yell.
- If you nag, the child will learn to ignore.
- If you force, the child will learn to rebel.
- Give opportunities for the child to be in control. When everything is done and decided by adults, then children tend to feel frustrated and may throw a tantrum.
- Set limits for the child, which are consistent and understandable by the child.
- If all other things fail, try child whispering. This is to be done at bed time, just as the child’s eyelids droop down to fall asleep, the mother or father should whisper in the child’s ear, and tell him how they want him to behave and how proud they would be if he behaved in this manner. Do this for 15 to 20 nights consistently and it has known to work for many children.
Remember, the way you react when you are angry or upset will reflect in your child’s behaviour and tantrum, after all children are born imitators because their brains have mirror neurons!