Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Discipline and the Child

In the past when one of my two sons broke a rule or did something he should not have done, I immediately sent him to his room. I would also shout after him, “No more TV and no more computer privileges for awhile. Stay there and think about what you did.” And, of course, I would feel some guilt after that. After all they are only young boys. Was I being too harsh? Yet in a few days the boys would be back at it again. And I would have to act as a tyrant. When would they learn?

I have read several books on how to discipline a child and tried different techniques. We all understand and value the need for proper discipline in the child. Without discipline none of us would accomplish what we do. However it seems that every time we discipline a child we either do not do a proper job with a lasting impression or walk away feeling guilty.

After carefully considering this problem, I came across a technique which seems to not only discipline a child but it makes him reflect on what the punishment is for and which of his actions caused it. And best of all it is working and seems to have a lasting impression on the boys.

I thought why not get them to write a short essay about their thoughts, feelings and their understanding of the deed that got them the disciplinary action. So the next time my sons did something out of line, I sat down with them and discussed the problem. Then instead of sending them to their room and screaming at them or making them perform some other disciplinary action, I told them to write either a 300 or a 500 word essay depending on the nature of the infraction.

They weren’t too happy but after a few attempts, they finished. I asked them to read their thoughts to me that they had written. Here are a few excerpts from my oldest boy.

“Hello my name is…is…oh, no! I forgot! Yes, it’s true I am a very forgetful person. Forgetful to the point where I got 7 demerits in school over the past two weeks….My dad strongly emphasizes action and reaction. He always keeps telling me that for every action there is a reaction and sometimes it is good and some times it is bad…. My punishment for my forgetting is a hefty load of “no computer and no t.v. for a week.”

Here is another excerpt from my younger son who had not turned in his homework.

“Turning in your homework is important because when you turn it in you don’t have to think about how were you going to get into trouble…When you turn in your homework you turn it in with pride….I got into trouble and my dad told me to write this essay. I got three pins from my teacher.”

And here is another one that my son had to write when he lost his temper.

“My temper is very important, but when your temper gets too high it can get you in trouble…If you cannot control your temper it can lead you into something very, very bad. Like me. My brother was annoying me while I was talking to him. And guess what. My temper got too high and I ripped my brother’s science homework and I was punished of course. … Now your temper is not a body part, it’s a thought in your brain that tricks you.”

Several positive results have come out of this method. After the essay is completed and we discuss it, they frankly admit that it wasn’t too bad an ordeal. In fact one of them even admitted that he liked it. But I also noticed something else.

Their ability to write essays has become more fluent and their writing ability is improving. They do not fear the act of writing as a strange exercise. By having to write their feelings they are also examining them. However it is important that you discuss the finished product for its thought content and writing.

The next time you are about to reprimand your child with some type of punishment, consider the above mentioned technique. It will produce a more profound impression on the child. But don’t forget to save these little gems for later time and enjoy them as they grow up.

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