Today I’d like to talk about disciplining our kids.
Well, at the moment it will be a report on our 3yo Emelina and finding the right balance.
The challenge we’re struggling with is smacking our kids vs positive encouragement.
Let me be honest.
We smack Eme.
Not all the time only when she’s showing behaviour that we want to correct asap.
For example Eme may move too close to the oven while it’s steaming hot and after warning her many times she continues to push the boundaries then…. smaaaaack!
Or she starts to talk out of turn while I’m on the phone and despite my positive reinforcement she continues on and then…. smaaaack!
Every time I smack her I feel remorse immediately.
I’m in this strange time in her development where she can communicate (very basic) with me but sometimes doesn’t quite understand what I’m asking of her.
It’s as if sometimes she responds better to the physical pain from a smack.
She learns that what she just did was wrong and rarely repeats the same behaviour.
We’re mindful that we don’t want to reinforce the smack as the leading strategy but only after the positive language and reinforcement has failed.
So for example – every time we warn Emelina that the oven is on and hot now she understands what it means now and will repeat to us “oven is hot stay away” 🙂
Other times though we’ve let her learn from her own mistakes.
When she was 1.5yo and pretty confident moving around our house, she was trying to climb up and down our couch set.
We warned Eme “be careful Eme you might fall”.
She turned and gave us a cheeky smile and tried to climb the couch – one leg hanging off the edge and the other trying to scramble up.
Then she almost got up before her trailing leg wasn’t anchored properly on the couch and she fell flat on her backside and gave herself a big fright.
She burst into tears but then we explained to her again that she needs to learn to be careful when doing dangerous things.
What was the underlying trigger for her memory – physical pain.
If she was naughty and did not listened…. smaaaack. Physical pain.
If she fell off the couch…. Physical pain.
I believe there is value in learning through pain during these early years.
The tough task will be when our children are a little older and able to communicate effectively – then the smack with not be as effective.
I’ve observed over time that as children grow and develop they respond to circumstances differently.
By the time Eme is around 5yo she’ll be able to talk more clearly, express her desires and frustrations better and we can outline our expectations about her behaviour.
There will be no need for a smack at this age onward.
But as she’s 3yo and testing the boundaries we are trying to be extra patient and practice “Curiosity over Judgement” but sometimes a little tap on the backside can set them straight 😉
There is this practice in our culture that if you are naughty when you are growing up you can be sent to live with Family in the Pacific Islands.
It may sound like a holiday but it isn’t. Believe me!
In Tonga, misbehaving kids in school are often smacked by the teacher – corporal punishment is widely accepted.
A daily practice children often spend a period of the day cleaning the classroom and weeding the school grounds.
Remember that Tonga is regarded as a third world country so the comforts in Australia can be a distant memory. A good way to learn some humility when the child is sent back home after 3-6 months in the Islands!
As often happens both Leki and I got much more then a smack as we were growing up but we turned out ok.
How do you guys discipline your kids? Do you believe in tough love? Or are you totally against any corporal punishment?
Even though we smack Eme when the situation calls for it we do it in a loving way 🙂 How could you not love this cheeky spirit?
I’d be really interested to hear what your thoughts are on this one 😉