Baby Number 3, Life, parenting

The Discipline Dilemma

My partner and I are not sure how to effectively discipline our daughter. Or rather, we can’t agree.

Matt believes discipline requires physical punishment – ‘I was hit and I turned out great’. I would rather discipline in a more positive manner. Positive discipline does sound a little like an oxymoron, but by that I just mean in a gentle, non-physical way.

Luckily Charlie doesn’t require much discipline just yet, so we have awhile to decide (read: convince the other parent) But our time is running out. 

Personally I believe the yelling, hitting etc is damaging. I don’t even like it when my mother-in-law calls Charlie a ‘ratbag’ although I know she says it affectionately, because I don’t like the negative name-calling. Labelling a child as ‘naughty’ etc can hurt them, in my opinion. This opinion was formed from my own emotionally abusive childhood (I have not written about my childhood before – when I do you’re in for one big, crazy post!). 

I want to gently guide my daughter towards being well-behaved and teach her that certain actions and behaviour are not okay, and why they’re not okay. I believe hitting her, while it may scare her off doing something against the rules, will not teach her why she shouldn’t do it – just to fear the punishment if she does. I also don’t want to call her names or label her as ‘naughty’ etc, because I want her to understand that the problem is not her, but her actions, and she can control her actions to solve the problem.

Matt believes children need to be hit to be correctly disciplined. He was, and I quote, ‘beaten the shit out of’ when he did something wrong; and he agrees with what his parents did. I asked his mother about it and she said they never ‘beat him up’, they simply ‘punished him when he deserved it’ – lady, there is a damn fine line between your “punishment” and child abuse. I know you see a difference, but I don’t see much of one.

So my discipline dilemma is that my partner and I are polar opposites on this subject. I also question whether what I believe is right – what if I end up with an unruly, entitled kid thanks to my gentle disciplining? Normally I am extremely confident in my parenting decisions. Everything I do as a parent is done with a lot of thought, and I fiercely believe what I’m doing is what’s best for my daughter. But here I’m not sure, because my business partner in this whole parenting gig has never been against anything I’ve done before. 

What do you believe when it comes to discipline vs punishment? And what would you do or say to convince your other half your way is the way to go?

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2 thoughts on “The Discipline Dilemma

  1. Hi Emily, this is a tricky one, because parental unity is important, and I’m no expert but here are some of the best tips I’ve been given:
    1. Stay calm (if your kids behaviour makes you lose your temper, they are in a way controlling you…this gives them too much power so try not to take their behaviour personally)
    2. Be consistent (kids are always testing boundaries—it’s part of learning—and they need to know what to expect. Letting behavior slide sometimes and punishing it several other times is confusing. Try to make the punishment fit the crime…and not just your mood! 😉
    3. Try to have a few simple rules. Maybe write them down and stick them on the fridge so you can refer to the, easily.
    Hope this helps a bit. Remember she won’t be little forever and cherish this time, while also trying to help her to grow into the person you know she can be. Have high hopes, but be patient!

  2. Oh this is such a tough one! Now that our son has hit ‘threenager’ we’re really struggling to find a way of disciplining that works! Hopefully you and hubby can decide on a path together!

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