The dis­ci­pline ap­proaches that worked dur­ing your kid’s preschooler years no longer ap­ply once she’s in pri­mary school. JASSMIN PETER-BERNTZEN finds out what does work in the tur­bu­lent tween years.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

The dis­ci­pline ap­proaches that worked pre­vi­ously no longer ap­ply once she’s in pri­mary school. Th­ese are the tricks that do work.

In the blink of an eye, your child is now in pri­mary school. Where have the years gone, you won­der, wish­ing you could freeze time to en­joy her lit­tle­ness. At the same time, you’re proud of the per­son she is grow­ing into.

Tween­hood, the ages be­tween seven and 10, can be a com­pli­cated time in a child’s life. Your kid is on the path to self­dis­cov­ery and eager to prove to every­one, es­pe­cially her par­ents, that she is a miniadult ready for more re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“She is also start­ing to show signs of pu­berty – want­ing to be more in­de­pen­dent and thriv­ing for self-con­trol,” notes par­ent­ing ex­pert Cor­nelia Dahin­ten. This is when her be­hav­iour changes – she wants to be less con­trolled by her par­ents and starts test­ing bound­aries, she adds.

Peter Jayan Chel­liah, 42, a claims of­fi­cer, couldn’t agree more. Ever since his son Yu­varaj, eight, started pri­mary school, he’s no­ticed that the dis­ci­plin­ing tac­tics that used to work pre­vi­ously no longer do.

“Things like tak­ing away TV and play­ground time were enough to get him to be­have, but they no longer work now,” Peter says. “Al­though they are still very ef­fec­tive with my three-year-old daugh­ter!” he quips.

Shar­lene Tan, 41, an ac­count man­ager and mum to Ash­ley, eight, con­curs. When her son was younger and used to mis­be­have, she spanked his bum lightly or took away priv­i­leges, such as buy­ing new toys.

“It no longer works, be­cause what he does now is save his re­cess money dur­ing the week and uses that to spend on him­self when he goes out with me,” she says. “Also, I’ve had to give up spank­ing be­cause he tells me beat­ing is abuse.”

Th­ese are typ­i­cal chal­lenges par­ents of tweens face, says psy­chol­o­gist Daniel Koh. Not too long ago, your child was com­pletely de­pen­dent on you and your guid­ance to nav­i­gate life.

Now that she’s do­ing more things on her own and has her own cir­cle of friends as a sup­port sys­tem, she thinks she’s ready for more in­de­pen­dence. How­ever, you may not feel the same way.

“This is when the power strug­gle and dom­i­nance start, which re­sults in more chal­leng­ing be­hav­iour,” Daniel ex­plains.

“Fear and con­trol used to work, but now it’s be­come a sore point. Also, the same dis­ci­pline method will stop work­ing af­ter a while be­cause ei­ther the child gets used to it or learns to work around it.”

Does this mean it’s time to start let­ting your child have her way? Most defi­nitely not, Cor­nelia says. Even though she may be­have more grown-up, she is not.

Your child still needs a lot of guid­ance, but in a more lib­eral man­ner than pre­vi­ously, Cor­nelia adds.

“You still see her as your lit­tle baby – and she is – but your kid wants to feel that you’re tak­ing her se­ri­ously, that her opin­ion is heard and val­ued,” Cor­nelia adds.

“That does not mean, though, that she gets to de­cide on things, be­cause at the end of the day, she is still a child. As the par­ent, you de­cide, but now in­clude her in the thought process and open up for con­ver­sa­tion to pre­pare her for the fu­ture.”

If you’re cur­rently in a grid­lock sit­u­a­tion with your tween, our ex­perts rec­om­mend some easy ways to start work­ing through them.


The days of “I know bet­ter than you” or “just lis­ten to what I say” are over. The harder you try to keep your child un­der your thumb, the more ag­gres­sive she will be­come.

In­stead, use this as an op­por­tu­nity to hone your child’s crit­i­cal think­ing skills. Guide her as she works through a dis­ci­pline is­sue. Ask her to think why her ac­tions might have been wrong, what she could have done bet­ter and how she will ap­proach it the next time.

Give her time to process it and keep the com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels open, so she feels she can ap­proach you at any time. “This will help to fos­ter fu­ture dis­cus­sions,” Daniel says.

This ap­proach worked well on Yu­varaj re­cently when he was in­volved in small ar­gu­ment in school and ended up strik­ing a fel­low class­mate out of frus­tra­tion.

“We ex­plained to him the im­por­tance of pa­tience and not hurt­ing an­other peer stu­dent. We also turned the roles around and made him re­alise he wouldn’t have wanted to be treated the same way,” Peter says.

“It worked and he apol­o­gised to his friend the next day.”


By es­tab­lish­ing clear rules, you are set­ting the bound­aries as a par­ent. By al­low­ing your child to have a say in th­ese rules, you’re giv­ing her a slice of in­de­pen­dence and teach­ing her how to work with struc­ture and rou­tine – skills that will come in very handy as she grows up. She will also feel val­ued know­ing that she has a voice in fam­ily dis­cus­sions.


Since your child thinks she’s ready to be re­spon­si­ble, give her a chance to prove her­self. Al­lo­cate sim­ple chores that are age ap­pro­pri­ate.

If she sticks to her end of the bar­gain, re­ward her ac­cord­ingly. For ex­am­ple, from to­day, your tween is re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing her own bed. If she does, she can play with her neigh­bours af­ter school. By do­ing this, your kid is learn­ing to earn her priv­i­leges.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.