Growing up in an Asian country, we’re used to the school of thought that “if you spare the rod, you spoil the child”. We were also spanked and had tough punishments meted out on us as children, so when we became parents ourselves, this seemed to be the default mode of “disciplining”. Kind friends and relatives around us told us, “Buy a cane. If you are too lenient, your kids will climb over your head”. How many of you subscribe to this belief?
However, neuroscience and human psychology has made breakthroughs since our parent’s generation. As we read more books about our children’s brains, their development and positive parenting, we realised there is a more effective way of getting our kids to cooperate and most importantly, build their brains in the process.
Sure, spanking works. Much like how shouting down someone when you can’t agree with them instead of engaging in reasonable debate will work. People will always cooperate out of fear but being a leader (as all parents are) means finding ways to win the hearts of your children and having them cooperate WILLINGLY. Being a positive parent takes more effort, but you reap rewards for life.
Being a positive parent does not mean being lenient. It is all about setting limits in firm, empathetic ways - connecting with our children with our verbal and non-verbal responses before helping them develop insight on their behaviours.
Let’s put this in perspective. Your child is throwing a BIG tantrum because he wants to watch TV but it’s dinnertime. You can,
A) Punish him and tell him to go stand in the corner (Child thinking “why?!”)
B) Sigh, end the tears and turn on the TV (child thinks, “this works!”)
C) Acknowledge his feelings yet stay firm. “It’s hard when mummy says No. We can’t watch TV now because dinnertime is time with family”. Stay calm, stand firm.
All 3 would work. Probably, C takes the most effort, but he is learning most - mummy understands me, this is a limit I need to respect and dinnertime is family time, no TV. Over time, these cumulative moments build his brain as he learns limits and the whys behind appropriate behaviours.
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