King's Business - 1966-04

always be punished and that he will not be let off occasionally. And he knows that only the breaking of known rules will bring clearly defined reactions from father and mother. Yet he knows that they will always bring it. Such consistency leads to obe­ dience without argument, tears or rebellion. He is also assured as he realizes that the disci­ pline to be enforced is both kind and firm. When mother says “ no” it always means “no.” “ Now” means at once and not some time later.

It can rob the child of his own personality and cre­ ate anxiety and lack of confidence. Rather, it conies from a deep satisfaction in the home. In the earliest days, mother and child are one physically. After birth they need to be one psy­ chologically. The world on which the child is enter­ ing is frightening and frustrating. But as he finds that he can always rely upon father and mother in every way, he feels secure. At home, the contented child never has to think twice about his loyalties. He has never needed to question the motives, actions or instructions of his parents. He is sure father and mother love him. Their sympathy and understanding he never finds to fail. Whenever he is in real need, he is sure they will listen to him even though it means their stop­ ping what they are doing for half an hour. This security can only come from discipline and that is just another word for training. It is that sort of training that aims to help a child develop self-control and confidence. While at times this form of teaching may have to include punishment, discipline covers a much wider area than that. Indeed it is a way of showing love to our children rather than o f hurting them. It means using the events of life as a way of learning. So it becomes an encouragement to do what is right as well as a restraint in temptation. T i e secure child is one who knows there are some positive standards of discipline in the home. Freedom of action is necessary, but if there are no known limits to it, he will never know when he will get hurt. The child who knows that fences have been erected by his parents is the one who is happy. As he realizes that his parents have set these fences for his good because of the danger out­ side them his sense of security will grow. He is aware that these fences protect him from his own impulsiveness and lack of judgment. If he does not have them he will find something missing from life. He will feel insecure and unloved. The child will need to know that these standards are certain, clear, definite and consistent. He must be sure that they will be regularly enforced. He gains in security as he realizes that an offence will

Training also includes praise for what is done to the best of the child’s ability. The job may not be done as well as the parent would have done it, but the child has done as well as he could. “ I am proud of you” is often the most effective part of training. This often leads him to try tasks that are a little harder. So he progresses. All the while he is gain­ ing in confidence and assurance. A child can learn enormously from his mistakes when a parent uses them creatively. If he discusses the offence with the child, both of them will gain from the discussion. John is a well-behaved twelve- year-old. His father was asked how he got that way. “John and I have a close relationship,” the father replied. “ I started working on it the day he was bom. I haven’t stopped. When he misbehaves or breaks a family rule, I sit down with him and we talk about it. Usually we discover what has gone wrong and why. How do I punish him? I seldom have to resort to punishment when we understand the cause o f the misbehaviour.” Children do not resent a firm discipline when it is fair and marked by kindness and is not beyond what is necessary. In answer to the question why he loved his father, a boy once wrote: “My dad is a proponent of pay-as-you-go theory. I have to keep my actions in line or I don’t get any privileges such as an allowance or the right to drive the car. If my dad sounds tough, he is. Furthermore, I’m happy he is because I’ve learned to earn my rights and privileges. My dad has never lied to me. I can depend on his word. He is fair.” Children don’t resent paternal discipline as they sense the father’s love in it. Said one small girl to


APRIL, 1966

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