Discipline is a matter of teaching limits to one’s child. It is the process of giving the child with no life experience the benefit of the adult’s experience. Discipline teaches children to set limits on their impulsive behavior, to value the rights of others, and to learn the general rules of behavior, in order to he socially accepted.
Children require limits. They lack a knowledge of what is good and bad for them, nor can they see far enough ahead to develop the qualities of character and internal discipline which will he necessary for their later performance as adults. Self-restraint, limitation of activities, postponement of gratification for further or future rewards are important tasks for a child to learn. He has to be able to realize that breaking the rules of discipline will bring some kind of punishment, even if it is only a rebuke or an angry scolding.
Parents who continually say “no” to a child in a tone of voice which indicates contempt, anger, or scorn will soon destroy the effectiveness of this as a method of discipline. Treating a child with consideration and kindness, asking “Please do this for me,” or requesting certain behavior is much more agreeable to anyone (including a child) than a harsh and angry command.
One of the most important aspects of obedience is the maintaining of consistent standards of behavior and the maintaining of a uniform standard between both parents. If a mother forbids something and the child says, “I’ll ask father,” and the father permits it, this child will soon be playing one parent off against the other in an attempt to dominate and get his own way. If the parents stick together, are firm in agreeing on methods of discipline and decisions regarding behavior, the child will have no alternative but to obey, even if unwillingly.
When repeated training and discipline take effect, the child learns inner control, so that he can begin to discipline himself in life situations and get along without the constant help of his parents. Discipline involves guidance, assistance, acceptance, and permitting growth while imposing limits on unacceptable behavior. His self-discipline will enhance his selfesteem and give him confidence in life. But remember, the language of love and authority can be the same.