Want Discipline? Stop Being Primitive!


How many times have you seen parents ‘losing it’ in front of their children and then getting it back from them in one form or the other: the defiance, disobedience or talking back. Disciplining children is an area where almost every parent thinks he knows how to go about it and where almost everybody fails. The reason is simple. When we see our child practising his newly-found-autonomy, we get startled and a primitive need to control that animal which is not kneeling in front of us gets out in the open and we do everything that is still running in our genes, from shouting, yelling and whacking to prove ‘authority’.

Yes, all parents complain that the children today are a totally different breed, they don’t listen to the parents, they want gadgets, freedom and don’t want to hear ‘No’ to anything. Agreed! But before we go further, let me share a quick titbit on ‘No’. Parents don’t realise but it is true that a ‘No’ is said many more times than a ‘yes’ in a household where there are children and sometimes it is the echo of that ‘No’ that we parent get back in form of indiscipline.

It is also not to comprehend that a parent’s job is to agree to whatever the child demands, that is definitely a sure shot way to have a child the society would blame you for. But mostly, a ‘no’ is said to prove the authority. A lot of times, parents don’t even hear a child out before rejecting whatever he is asking for and they think they do it to enforce discipline. It is also to realise that the kind of discipline we believe in and the discipline we impose is of two different types. We might believe that intentionally we are doing everything right. We pretend play, we teach them things we are not interested in, take them out, buy latest gadgets or preach them about the values we believe in, but the irony is that most of the time we are not following what we say. It happens mostly when we are off-guard. When we are not in that ‘parent mode’ and when we are just a customer, husband, shopper or a neighbour. That’s when children catch us. As someone has rightly said ““Good habits are not taught, they are caught”.


A lot of times children get struck in the middle of a mother or father’s bad mood and we never care to explain what happened. Many times when parents call out for a child, they expect them to drop everything and come to them, because that’s their idea of the authority of a parent but do they do the same? In spite of the pretext of friendship that you cover your primitive instinct with, your need for the authority remains a difficult balance to strike for your child along with the friendship band you wear.

If you look closely you’ll realise that the young children between 6 and 1o are like scientists. Every day they are engaging in various experiments. They experiment about their freedom, their boundaries and how much they can push their parents to see how it all goes. The parents need to understand that the children are trying to establish a theory, a theory about finding their place, pushing boundaries, trying one alternative over the other and figuring out how one research finding is better than the previous one. Now being a parent, you can be consistent with your decisions and help them reach an understanding about you and house rules by both understanding their need to make ‘mistakes’ and not categorising them as ‘misbehaviour’.


Focusing on the correction than the punishment, which is a primitive need in us, would help your child develop an empathy and respect for you.
The truth is, your child is not only experimenting with the limits, he is also looking at you for that emotional maturity which you show when you control those raging emotions and deal with it while staying calm. He is learning how his parents behave in a ‘not-so-pleasant’ difficult situation and tries to form his own ‘dealing with stress’ techniques for future. He looks up to you when you behave compassionately, after you all are lost because of a wrong direction your wife gave you and you tell her ‘it’s ok’. He sees the change in your tone when you speak to your boss and your subordinate, even if it’s over the phone. How you treat a server at a restaurant or a neighbour determines how he is going to behave with similar people in his future life.

“How to go about disciplining your child” is a topic you’d find a thousand articles on and this is not one of them. This is to let you know that you are not invisible in your house. You are seen all the time. In fact you are being recorded in the memories of your little ones. Remember those few incidents of your childhood you can’t forget. Your present is going to be as vivid in the future memories of your children and a few incidents that you’d not even find worth remembering would be etched in their memory for longest.
So all you can do to make it a great picture worth going back to is to accept that the times have changed. Evolution has happened for a reason and no matter how much our basic instinct wants us to take charge and claim a territory or a person, we need to stop being primitive.

Media Source