I caught the house help beating my 20-month-old son; this was not just mere spanking, it was real slapping clearly heard several rooms away. Apparently, my Zayn was climbing the window, and she felt she needed to discipline him. I feel crushed, livid, irate as I type this. This particular window has been baby proofed, even if he climbs, he cannot fall out of it. Now I’m wondering if she can beat him so much whilst I’m home, I shudder to think what happens once I’m away. I am sad and in tears imagining what may have been going on right under my nose. I have never laid my hands on any of my children, or any child for that no matter what they do.
I believe in talking to children even when they are still so little, non-verbal and can hardly comprehend. I have thrown the helper out of the house, but several people are calling to beg on her behalf. I understand the entire spare the child and spoil the rod….. but how can a house help brutalize my child in an attempt to correct? How does being physical ever help children? Is that not the beginning of hardening boys? Would hardened boys not commit domestic violence and all manners of violence in the future? Some people say that is the only way African children learn and grow, but I thoroughly disagree.
I believe in disciplining a child. I believe in reinforcing good behavior and discouraging bad ones. I want to raise well-rounded individuals in my house. I want my children to have a good head on their shoulders. I want these children to be happy, respectful, purposeful, compassionate and responsible citizens. I will not raise spoilt, self-conceited brats. My background is in education and I am the daughter of teachers but I do not want to achieve all of these with a cane in hand or using my hand to do the beating like I just witnessed. Yes, these children throw massive tantrums as all kids do, they waste precious time, spill and scatter everything and outrightly annoy sometimes. It can be overwhelming and you find yourself shouting especially when what they do hurts the other one, this happens so many times on an average day and you find yourself screaming but it should end at that – scream (this should even be laced with love in my opinion).
Spanking, hitting, flogging or beating children should be discouraged. It just toughens children and they start to model aggressive, violent behavior. I believe we should be calm but firm and always affirm good behavior and dissuade negative ones. My husband believes we can stir a middle course, spank a little while we do mostly verbal training. Hmmm…. Spanking should only be in extreme cases, and even only us the parents are allowed to do these, not some house helps.
I am no child development expert, but these are what I believe parents can do to train and discipline children:
- Vigilance: I cannot overemphasize this. There is a need to be up and doing as regards children. Yes, we are all hustling and trying to give them the best but it is imperative to be observant of everything going on in our homes.
- Build a safe home with love and support as its foundation: Children suck in all the energies around them. If there is always rancor, bickering, aggression, and violence in the home, that isn’t the best environment to raise children. Strive to build a home of love, understanding, tolerance and a lot of warmth and togetherness.
- Be a good role model Children copy what we do not necessarily what we say. We can teach right from wrong with calm words and actions. Do things you would want to see your children do.
- Set limits Always have clear and consistent rules your children can follow. Be sure to explain these rules in age-appropriate terms they can understand. Don’t be this today and another thing tomorrow and if the rules will change for whatever reason, let them understand why.
- Give consequences and let them understand Calmly and firmly explain the consequences if they don't behave. For example, tell him/her that if s/he does not pick up his/her toys, you will put them away for the rest of the day. Be prepared to follow through right away. Don't give in by giving them back after a few minutes. Remember; never take away something your child truly needs, such as food.
- Hear them out Listening is important. Let your child finish the story before helping solve the problem. Watch for times when misbehavior has a pattern, like if your child is feeling jealous. Talk with your child about this rather than just giving consequences.
- Give them your attention The most powerful tool for effective discipline is attention—to reinforce good behaviors and discourage others. Remember, all children want their parents’ attention.
- Catch them being good Children need to know when they do something bad--and when they do something good. Notice good behavior and point it out, praising success and good tries. Be specific (for example, "Wow, you did a good job putting that toy away!").
- Know when not to respond As long as your child isn't doing something dangerous and gets plenty of attention for good behavior, ignoring bad behavior can be an effective way of stopping it. Ignoring bad behavior can also teach children the natural consequences of their actions. For example, if s/he throws and breaks his/her toy, she will not be able to play with it. It will not be long before she learns not to drop his/her toy and play carefully with his/her toys.
- Redirect bad behavior Sometimes children misbehave because they are bored or don't know any better. Find new activities for your child to do. Take them out to a mall, on a play date or if there is a park nearby to kick a ball around or buy a new, bigger more engaging toy and if s/he is big enough, maybe a bicycle or more educative toys. Just get them gainfully engaged.
- Isolate from what he/she is used to A time-out can be especially useful when a specific rule is broken. This discipline tool works best by warning children they will get a time out if they don't stop, reminding them what they did wrong in as few words?and with as little emotion?as possible, and removing them from the situation for a pre-set length of time. This strategy, which can help the child learn and practice self-management skills, also works well for older children and teens.
Lastly, set boundaries for your house helps, nannies, friends, and family members as regards your children discipline. Even at school, know how far they go. Do they flog, whip, beat, hit, slap, spank or punish (kneel down and all)? Establish all of this before putting a child in the school, there are enough cases of pupils being beaten to death in schools.
I have just allowed the house help back in with a stern, written out warning. I also called the company that fixes CCTV.
Moms, what are your experiences as regards discipline from others?