Don’t relent in disciplining young ones

Educational Journey with EPHAT MUDENDA
THE holiday season has been prolonged by the outbreak of cholera in the land. Schoolchildren will therefore stay a little bit longer at home as they patiently wait for the time when the disease will be contained.

And during this time, disciplining them should continue taking place within the home environment.
Of course it is true that some children behave differently at school than they do at home. This is as a result of various factors, including peer pressure. Experienced teachers discipline pupils in an effective manner. Some of the techniques employed by such professionals are worth emulating by parents and guardians in a home, since they can be as effective there as they are in the classroom.
The word discipline comes from the Latin word ‘disciplinare’. It means ‘to teach’. True discipline is that which is meant to guide and manage a child’s behaviour. It is based on the quality of a child’s relationship with his or her care provider, that is, a teacher in the classroom, and mum, dad, an auntie or uncle at home.
Each time a child receives consistent response from a loving, caring adult, whether at school or at home, what develops is a desired, deep attachment and a sense of being wanted. This in itself forms the foundation of good behaviour and effective discipline among young ones. Key in positively nurturing behaviour that should prepare children for a responsible adult life is to ensure that children-adult relationships are respectful, responsive and reciprocal.
A simple gesture such as a parent or guardian greeting a child, for example, sends a positive signal to a young person, who will grow to appreciate the fact that they are worth your time, thereby sustaining the cycle of trust and love between yourself, an adult, and young ones themselves.
Positive reinforcement is an important ingredient in instilling discipline into children. Smiling, giving them ‘five’ (but with cholera around, be careful how you do it), as well as giving effective praise, are some of the ways that can be employed to achieve the desired reinforcement. However, one should not just shower them with insincere praises without thought.
In school, an experienced teacher is mindful of the fact that effective praise should always avoid comparisons and competition. A child’s current progress, for instance, should be compared with his or her past performance rather than with his or her peers. This can be replicated in a home where there are several children who must be treated equally.
Praising a child for doing what is right must be done in a caring, natural tone of voice. This should never leave the others around feeling as if their efforts are not being appreciated at all. Actually, in most cases young people, particularly those at the upper primary and secondary school level, can tell if at all the praise directed towards them or their friends is genuine or not.
Children will be engaged in various activities at home as they are waiting for schools to reopen. So in those tasks that you give them, When acknowledging the good that one has done, it is important to be specific about the particular action or observed good behaviour exhibited, rather than just telling them ‘well done’ or ‘good boy’, ‘good girl’, etc.
The reward and acknowledgement in a situation where an adult finds a young person in an act of kindness towards his or her friends is more genuine than one in which a child simply announces that they managed to do the work you had asked them to do. As you openly praise them for their warm gesture towards one another – being kind and caring to others – children develop a sense of self-worth, self-esteem and a high level of discipline.
At home, too, parents and guardians will do well to make sure that they avoid making comparisons between siblings, calling names and using phrases that may just end up making one feel he is a good boy or good girl, and that others are not doing a ‘good job’.
Where necessary, please ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ with a view to truly disciplining them and guiding their behaviour. Then they will have a proper direction with a purpose – to achieve great things in life and positively contribute towards socio-economic development.

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