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By Paonam Thoibi

“Parenting is a difficult task and is also one of the most rewarding experiences”

Q. Madam, I am a father of a three year old son. But I get lost sometimes how to treat my son. I am quite tolerant towards him even when his mother is irritated and scolds him. I would stop her but am speechless when my wife tells me how to discipline him. I am told most of the time that it is not a good policy to beat them when they are naughty but how far is that true? Name withheld

Ans: I am glad to know how a father is anxious to bring up his son in the best possible manner. Your worry will be the start to put an end to the stereotype that it’s always the mother of a child who is more worried than the father.

Parenting is a difficult task and is also one of the most rewarding experiences. You are right and I can understand when you describe your anxieties in becoming a parent. No one has ever been taught how to become a good parent. There are no schools or institutions which provide classes for new parents to be. Often times we use techniques which we are familiar with- often the ones used by our own parents. Many times, even with our best intentions, we go wrong and quickly regret our small blunders.

My own experience in a school allows me to be aware of many of the parenting styles employed and how each of it affects the children. There are different ways how parents treat their children and deal with their ever changing behavior.

But some parenting styles are considered very common. It is important to know them in order to encourage the good ways and put a check on what you have been doing wrong, if any.

Some parents exert firm control, are less responsive to child’s behavior and often reject their wish and demands. These are the authoritarian parents and they often use aggressive child discipline techniques. Their discipline tends to be harsh. Instead of discussing misbehavior with the child, they are more likely to immediately punish. Children raised by authoritarian parents are known to achieve less in academics; they are more hostile and engage in more substance use as adolescents. Understanding child discipline requires an appreciation of the full range of disciplinary behaviors, including non-violent as well as violent practices. Quite many times parents are confused as to what constitutes aggressive or violent disciplining and often thinks it is limited to hitting, slapping and spanking only. It should be understood that aggressive and violent child discipline may be either physical or psychological in nature. Both forms matter much as these two forms overlap and frequently occur together which in the long run can be harmful for a child. Not just in the confines of the home, educational institutions should also keep a check on violent physical discipline (also known as corporal punishment) which uses physical means to control children, such as spanking or physically forcing children to do things and is intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort often as a punishment. Aggressive and violent psychological disciplining involves the use of guilt, humiliation, the withdrawal of love, or emotional manipulation or blackmail to control children. It, too, has repercussions and children who are exposed this form of treatment are more defiant and delinquent.

The authoritative parents are warm even with firm control. Their child disciplinary practices include acts explaining why something is wrong which allows the lines of communication to go both ways between parent and child. Authoritative parents monitor their children closely, are understanding and supportive. But they also set boundaries and institute appropriate consequences if the child does not behave. Children raised by authoritative parents enjoy greater academic success, are less hostile and more popular with peers, have higher self-esteem, and show more purpose and independence. Therefore, it is a very much encouraged parenting style.

There are also permissive parents who are generally warm and less controlling and parents who are very rejecting and neglecting who not only set few limits but are also unresponsive. Immediately we will know both of these parenting styles are not ideal.

Parents are encouraged to interact with their children in a positive manner and know how to use non-violent disciplinary methods. Parents can learn skills such as positive reinforcement (e.g. offering praise for desired behaviors), effective limit setting (issuing clear commands and employing non-violent punishments for noncompliance) etc.

Lastly, we should be able to understand that when we are shocked by news of child abuse and maltreatment which are ever increasing these days, we should also look into our own homes and see how we are treating our children. A large majority of parents often rejects the need for physical punishment in theory, even if it is still practiced in their households.

Creating a safe environment for the children can start from each household so that our children may be able to thrive and grow up as sensible and responsible social being.

Readers are requested to send in their queries at mindmifp@gmail.com



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