Everywhere I look I see rude, whining, demanding, inappropriate children. It’s not their fault. From my observations as a grandmother of five and childcare provider of many years, I believe parents are training them to behave that way. No, I do not believe any parent wakes up one morning and decides to raise their child to be a little monster without manners, but the current trend of passive parenting seems to be having the same result.
What has happened to discipline?
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines discipline as “Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement; Control obtained by enforcing compliance or order; Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; A state of order based on submission to rules and authority; Punishment intended to correct or train.” Similarly, the Merriam-Websterdictionary defines it as “control that is gained by requiring that rules or orders be obeyed and punishing bad behavior; a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders; behavior that is judged by how well it follows a set of rules or orders.” To me it means to issue a set of rules and to clearly state the punishment that will be given if those rules are not followed.
Discipline was an important part of my upbringing, and for others of my generation. Nowadays, parents seem to instead wait for the child to do something they do not like and then react. For example, when the child has thrown a toy one time too many, the parent may raise their voice to tell the child that they are being naughty and then take the toy away. What does that mean to the child? That mommy is short tempered today? Would it not be more effective to let the child know they are not allowed to throw their toys, and that they will sit on their bed, not watch their favorite show, not have desert, etc, if they do throw toys? And then actually take that action the very first time they throw a toy, and every time after? This would teach the child that they are not to throw toys.
Everywhere we go in life there are sets of rules that must be followed – federal, state, and local laws; rules in school and places of employment; socially accepted behavior; and our personal family preferred values and manners – just to name a few.
If we do not discipline our children, we are teaching them that rules do not apply to them, that rules are seldom enforced, and that there are rarely consequences to their actions. This is not the way to raise socially conscious law-abiding citizens. I worry for our future.