CBS Atlanta

Jane (not her real name), went to a shopping mall with her six year old daughter and a baby in a stroller.  Like other malls, there were so many things on display. Fanciful assorted toys in different colours and shapes were on display. While moving from one shop to the other, the six year daughter asked for a toy to be bought for her. Buying toys was not on the mother’s list, so she objected. Her daughter did not find that funny and held on to the toy, screaming with all her might. Her cry left the mother very flustered and embarrassed.

Jane may not be the only mum who has experienced this; so many other mothers must have had one or two experiences along this line. Your child insisting on buying things that were not planned for at a shopping mall is an everyday occurrence. How do you discipline your child at home to ensure that things like this don’t happen? How do you discipline a child in such a situation?

When it comes to parenting and disciplining a child, there are no hard and fast rules. Some parents are all for a little spanking here and there, while others are adamant and see it as counter-productive.

What is really the best way to discipline a child? Is there something as too much spanking? Yet other parents subscribe to rewarding good behaviour as a way to encourage it, but what happens when the child now grows accustomed to it and behaves only for the sole purpose of getting rewarded? The reward becomes the incentive to behave well and not the act itself.

The American Mental Association describes three styles of parenting. An authoritative parent who has clear expectations and consequences and is affectionate toward his or her child. The authoritative parent allows for flexibility and collaborative problem solving with the child when dealing with behavioral challenges. This is the most effective form of parenting.

An authoritarian parent who has clear expectations and consequences, but shows little affection toward his or her child. The parent may say things like, “because I’m the Mommy, that’s why.” And a permissive parent shows lots of affection toward his or her child but provides little discipline. Where do you fall as a parent?

Speaking on the best way to discipline your child, Dr. Toyin Adebayo, a psychologist, says it’s always best to compare notes on what other parents are doing and also study your child and do what works best for him or her. The Next Edition spoke to some parents and below are their approach towards discipline.

Mrs. Jane Edu who works as a customer care rep and a mother to a three year old says this is her tactics. “From my own little experience as a parent, so far ignoring my daughter works like magic. Once she misbehaves and I caution her once or twice I just observe and ignore any request she makes. I remind her of when she did something wrong. She always says ”Sorry Mummy, I won’t do it again” whenever I remind her.”

Mrs Edu went on to say that spanking doesn’t work for her child anymore and she had stopped using that method as a form of discipline. “It’s a waste of energy as she just goes back and does the same thing again and again. Recently staring at her sternly also rests her. For now those are the three methods that work, as she grows I will find more that work.”

Mrs. Felicia Okereke a mother to a preteen says , “ I scold him and punish him when he misbehaves. I also use the technique of depriving him of what he loves. I make him suggest his punishments at times, I make him decide if what he did is punishable. I do that for extreme offenses, like disobedience, dirtiness. If he’s disrespectful I can ban him from watching TV, playing his games.” She said she also makes him face the wall or takes away snacks.

She said she stopped flogging. “But, in all, I let him know why I do that and we always talk about the action after punishment has been served.”

Mr. Tope Ajayi who is a father to teenagers and two preteens said this of his approach to discipline. “I think it all depends on your person and how you want to bring them up. I can’t remember the last time I beat my children. That doesn’t mean they don’t misbehave but you can’t be beating your kids all the time. I shout at them so they know now to avoid anything that will make Daddy shout.”

He added that treating them like adults also works as it gives them a sense of responsibility.

Mother of three, Mrs. Victoria Jima says “It all depends on the offence. Most times, if it’s something so serious some mothers will beat the child so badly, I always sit my child down, try to know his/her reason for doing such an act. I then calmly talk to him and give reasons why it is bad. If they repeat the same thing again, I introduce flogging. I also lock them in a room for 30mins or more just to be by themselves and reflect. The locking part works for me because it hurts them so bad.”

The American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends the following as discipline techniques:

Rewarding good behaviour where you ‘catch’ a child in the act of doing something good and acknowledge it as well as compliment to encourage the child.

Natural consequences involves allowing a child to experience the result of a bad behavior by his or herself. This works well for kids who don’t heed warnings and don’t seem to know that every action has a potential outcome.

Also, the Association says logical consequences is when the parent tells the child what the consequences for their bad behavior will be. Taking away privileges works when there is no natural consequence that will occur for a bad behaviour or no logical consequence as well.

According to the Association, time outs works for when the parent needs a break from the child’s behaviour and if you know exactly what the child did wrong. A time out should happen in a boring place where the child won’t enjoy and should be a pre-arranged place.

Whatever method you choose, discipline in parenting is very important as the aim is to raise children that will be responsible adults, well behaved at home and in public. No parent wants to raise a petulant or spoilt child. Discipline is key to avoiding this.