A teach in time saves nine - teaching discipline to your school-going child

  • By Team TDO

As every parent knows, the woes of getting children to go to school (If you can get them get off the bed to begin with). If it is your child’s first year at school then you’d be much better off instilling some semblance of discipline if you want to make your life any easier in the coming years. There is just no substitute for discipline if you want to raise a balanced and healthy child.

School time is when the child gives-up the comfort of his parent’s protective cocoon to an alien world of school life and stern-looking deans and teachers, where children are for the first time subjected to rules and regulations which are quite nothing like at home. Sure the mom has some house rules too but then there are cookies and kisses.

These are sadly missing at school leaving the child bewildered as he learns an altogether new set of social interaction where things are more impersonal and there are consequences for behaviour plus school assignments, text books and school teachers.

This could get really scary for some kids! Then they go back to that sunlit corner of their world (before school ruined it all!) back home to mum & dad and school vanishes like a bad dream. The very thought of getting back to school the next day is extremely torturous for your child initially and that's when your discipline is going to help the most.

The old days of ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ don’t apply any more. Brute force on your child can only harbour resentment & fear making your child either a rebel or a passive aggressive personality. No real respect can be earned that way. Of course, parents must have an upper hand in the child’s life but that can be done keeping friction at a minimum and creating a win-win situation instead of reading children the riot act all the time.

Without age-appropriate discipline, a child will never quite concentrate long enough to see a task through to fruition. You can both sit down together and assess the activities that your child engages in and then draw up a task scheduler which is comprehensive of school work, personal development, chores and errands which he can handle and of course hobbies and play.

This part is tricky because a child may not understand why he needs to be in bed by 9 PM. You will have to explain the whys of everything for him to appreciate that it is only for his own good.

Even if school begins late morning or afternoon there should be a regular wake up time and a compulsory physical activity every morning before regular meals. As his life revolves around school it is good that the child learns the benefits of concentration to do well at school.

Encourage a child to talk about his school experiences and always make time to attend parent-teacher meetings where you can get real feedback about his performance and other traits.

If there is a good framework of discipline at home then the child learns structure and the benefits of a regular routine which will help him plan his life much better as an adult. Disciplining also gets the best possible balance in a child’s life and this comes across in his self-confidence and helps him be in charge of his own life.

It is important to have a time table for polishing shoes, for brushing teeth and for homework but it is equally important to keep a tab on how well the child is adhering to timelines. Parents can have some sort of point system which earns a child points for sticking to the time table and keeps him motivated. It thus helps him feel less resentful of the fact that he has been imposed with a time schedule and is more likely to co-operate.

The child should be aware of the consequences of his non performance. This probably is the most difficult thing to do but makes sense for a child’s development in the long run. Punishments should never be physical beating because that erodes a child’s self respect. You can instil time outs or impositions if you must but never ever censure a child without reason. Children can get unruly and rebellious the best thing would be to lay down the law as parents and do not give into any emotional blackmail.

Disciplining a child takes plenty of courage as parents will notice because as ideal parents they will have to set good examples in front of their children by actually doing some of the things that they expect their children to do.