Educational Journey with EPHAT MUDENDA
LAST week, we emphasised that disciplining children should take place at home just as well as it must be applied in a school
environment. One important thing in regard to providing positive reinforcement and modelling appropriate behaviour among schoolchildren, is the parents’ and teachers’ ability to be mindful of what they say and how they say it to young people.
Being direct when advising children is vital, too. While keeping it simple for them, give reasons and explanations for the laid-down rules and reg-ulations. Also, being proactive, rather than waiting for a bad behavioural pattern to occur and then reacting to it, is good when it comes to instilling discipline in children.
For instance, a parent/ guardian should be consistent in referring to good educative programmes on television as well as being specific when dis-couraging them from watching programmes or channels that are not beneficial to their wellbeing. The same can be done on the use of computers and mobile devices. Being proactive in this way can help in preventing unnecessary arguments as young ones learn to obey parents and teachers from a tender age.
Evidently, this is not ‘forced obedience’, but effective and positive discipline which is about teaching and guiding children in a way that they, too, realise that their parents and teachers love and care for them. Trust between adults and young people should be maintained and constantly built up-on. This means that teaching acceptable behaviour takes time and a great deal of energy, hence the need for parents/ guardians and teachers to exer-cise maximum patience when dealing with children.
Effective discipline focuses on fostering appropriate behaviour in the child and raising emotionally mature adults. Therefore, it must be pointed out that the foundation of this kind of discipline is respect. A well-trained child is expected to respect the parents’ and teachers’ authority, as well as the rights of others; their peers and adults, whether at school or at home.
If adults are inconsistent in applying discipline, it will be difficult for them to help a young person under their care to respect them. Discipline that is evidently too harsh in nature, such as humiliation in form of verbal abuse, shouting, name-calling, among others, will surely only make it very hard for a child to genuinely respect and trust a parent or a teacher.
The goal of effective discipline, whether at home or school, is to protect a child against any danger they may face as they grow up, to help them learn self-discipline, and develop a strong, healthy conscience and an internal sense of responsibility and control in all that they do. This entails in-stilling values that should enable young ones to be appreciated by society as people who will positively contribute to the socio-economic develop-ment of the country in future.
This important aspect in the process of child development demands the principle of ‘do as I say and as I do’ on the part of adult members of society. Once the latter dwell on ‘do as I say, but NOT as I do’, it becomes very difficult to achieve effective discipline. Therefore, teachers, parents and other adults in communities are expected to set a good example in everything they do. They should be role models to the young people around them.
It is true, however, that as a child grows, its increasing independence may lead to conflicts. As they choose their own friends and activities, they tend to make decisions, some of which may be wrong, resulting from peer pressure. Whatever the case, though, the role of parents and educators is to continue supervising, to provide good behavioural models, and set rules consistently.
After all, rules and regulations are there so that everyone, children inclusive, can learn to live cooperatively with others in society, to teach them to discern what is right and what is wrong in all that is taking place around them, and to protect them from harm. So, with effective discipline, expect to see children who will turn into emotionally and socially mature adults someday.