Disciplining a pampered generation

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2021 00:00 |
Cecilia Kwamboka, a mother of two children aged 13 and 11 years. Photo/PD/KWACH WAKHISI

Years back, a parent would give a child a side glance and the kid would know what it meant.

A child wouldn’t be caught committing a mistake in front of any elder as this warranted a beating, it didn’t matter whether they were your parent or not.

But now we have children who know their rights. You chastise them and the next thing you have a child suffering from mental health, saying his/her parents hates them.

Youths today are unhappy, sullen, depressed, bratty and often demanding. Just recently, a Form Three student at Kisii High School stabbed two teachers with a knife and when questioned why he committed the crime, he said he was unhappy at the school, and wanting a change, had in vain requested his mother to take him to another school! 

In Bungoma, a Form Four student hacked his father to death  on Monday this week when he repremanded him after he found him with a girlfriend.

These cases beg the question, are today’s children innately born indisciplined or have parents largely contributed to this. 

Diana Makokha, a single mother of two boys aged 18 and six years says raising his boys, especially the teenager, with no father figure in his life hasn’t been easy.

“We have had several conversations together and I have exercised some form of toughness on him.

When he was 17, it was the most difficult age, but I had to be tough. I took away his phone, slashed his shopping and pocket money, only buying him the essentials. I thank God that it worked,“ says Diana.

Discipline starts early in life

According to her, disciplining a child needs to start when they are still young.

She offers: “Right from an early age, let the child grow knowing that there are rules both at home and at school, and the rules have to be followed.

Present day parents pamper their children a lot. They get away with anything and everything and are given anything they demand for, hence they grow up knowing that they are entitled to everything and they have rights.

A child may refuse to eat a certain kind of food and the mother will break her bones while running to get them a burger, pizza or chips. That’s where we go wrong as parents.”

She adds:  “Let children know they can be caned as a way of discipline when they wrong.

While in their teenage years, have conversations with them, but once in a while being tough is not bad.

Actually, it’s good to be tough on teenagers since they can be rebellious and rude. It has happened to me and I once threatened to throw out my 16-year-old boy,” she says.

Karago Kabura, a mother of two teenagers aged 19 and 16 says bringing them up has not been easy.

“When they go to school, they are taught of children’s rights, they are indiscriminately informed that any form of pain inflicting activity on them is a form of abuse be it physical, emotional or mental.

However, we must all agree that no form of discipline is sweet in its real sense for it touches on our pride and ego and our children are not exempted from this,” says Kabura.

Kabura says the intent of disciplining children should be simply to correct them. She offers: “Discipline can be instilled in various forms and caning is one of them.

Even the Bible has a place for that; Proverbs 13:24 says those who spare the rod hate their children, but those who love them are diligent to discipline.

I am for not sparing the rod, but some teachers and parents are ruthless and will brutalise children in the name of discipline.”

Kabura concurs that disciplining children should start at home with the right attitude and intent.

This way, the children will go to school knowing mistakes and indiscipline are to be corrected.

They will know disobedience is a call for punishment and will appreciate discipline not as a form of punishment, hate or abuse, but they will take it positively as a way of reminding them to always be careful to do the right thing and avoid doing wrongs.

Cecilia Kwamboka, a mother of two children aged 13 and 11 says today’s parents have failed in their roles as follows; not taking seriously reports given to them by other fellow parents regarding the behaviour of their children, and instead opt to see it as their kids being envied.

They talk negatively or gossip other people before their children, hence giving them room to disrespect grown-ups.   

“Disciplining a child should be done with a lot of love and care. It shouldn’t be done to harm or kill.

As parents, we should let our children understand that we love them and want the best out of them,” says Kwamboka.

Going back to the basics

Susan Catherine Keter, a transformational life coach says discipline needs to revolve around training someone to obey rules and an acceptable code of behaviour.

According to Keter, the problem today’s society faces is lack of training.  

“Look at the traditional society for example. Young girls accompanied their mothers to the river to fetch water and to the forest to collect firewood.

Likewise, fathers trained their sons to do manly duties such as hunting and looking after animals.

But today, both fathers and mothers are working away from home. They leave home early and come back at night.

Children are normally left under the care of house helps for most hours of the day.

Some children are brought up by TV and internet. They end up with zero life skills,” says Keter.

According to her, training comes before discipline and it makes no sense to punish someone for not doing something that was not taught in the first place.

“Punishment won’t do the training. Punishment minus training is actually destructive.

Punishment is used to discourage disobedience. Training of children can be done by role modelling, mentorship training and supervision as well as use of reward and punishment,” she says.

According to her, parents need to put in the work to learn parenting.

She offers: “Anyone can punish a child, but not everyone can parent. We have to go back to the basics, and that is parenting children.

Beating children or whatever form of punishment will not instil skills in them.

Train the children from a young age, then use punishment to enforce rules. A parent who harms a child is not healthy and needs to heal first before parenting.

Letting out one’s anger and frustrations on a child is child abuse and should be made punishable by law.” 

She further says that all people who handle children should understand at least basics about child development and human behaviour.

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