Alternate ways to deal with naughty kids
King Goodwill Zwelithini’s recent comments on corporal punishment divided opinion. Here are ways to discipline your kids without using physical force
HE’S the patron of education in a province that has seen several incidents of corporal punishment come to light. Teachers in KwaZuluNatal have been captured on camera beating their students, and in one district seven were suspended as a result. But King Goodwill Zwelithini doesn’t seem to see a problem with learners being punished physically.
The monarch recently lamented the banning of corporal punishment in schools at a meeting of principals and school governing bodies from the Umkhanyakude and King Cetshwayo districts in eSikhawini‚ northern KwaZulu-Natal.
“This thing of not disciplining our children is letting us down because children are not disciplined,” he said.
“What we disagree with is, when there is a complaint, that the child was not being disciplined‚ but being killed.”
The rod would make learners perform well, he believes, calling for discipline to be enforced. But this has divided opinion across the country.
According to the South African Council for Educators (Sace), corporal punishment is still prevalent in SA schools – more than 20 years after it was banned.
The latest statistics indicate it topped the list of 593 complaints in schools nationally, with at least 265 cases related to corporal punishment.
The Sonke Gender Justice network criticised the king for his comments. “In contrast to the king’s statement‚ proverbs in Zulu put into question the claim that hitting children is part of African culture.
“For example‚ the Zulu proverb which states: Induki ayiwakhi umuzi [Beatings don’t build a home]‚” said the organisation, which works to prevent violence against children among other things, in a statement.
But what do you do if your child needs discipline and you don’t want to resort to physical punishment? Here are some alternatives.
THE SO-HAPPY/SO-SORRY METHOD
This is suitable for kids aged three and older.
“Get two boxes or jars that can hold a few pieces of folded paper. Mark one ‘So Happy’ and the other ‘So Sorry’,” advises South African parenting coach Andalene
Salvesen, author of A Brand-New Child in 5 Easy Steps.
Sit with your child at a time when you’re both feeling relaxed and discuss things to put in the jars – punishments in the one and rewards in the other. Write them down on pieces of paper, fold them and put them into the appropriate jars.
When a discipline situation arises, ask your child to select one of the folded pieces of paper out of the So Sorry jar.
“Your children have to learn that their choices determine their consequences,” Salvesen says.
TIP Put one blank piece of folded paper in the So Sorry jar. “This is a wonderful opportunity to teach about grace. Sometimes we deserve punishment but we don’t get it,” Salvesen says.
Use the So Happy jar to reward good behaviour. Don’t use sweets or toys as rewards but rather positive time spent together.
EXAMPLES OF CREATIVE PUNISHMENT
Extra chores These are in addition to your children’s regular chores, which they should be doing from the age of six. They can include repacking cupboards, sweeping the yard or cleaning the fridge.
EXAMPLES OF CREATIVE REWARDS An extra bedtime story,
a later bedtime, extra screen time, not making their bed for a week or choosing a game to play with mom or dad.
TIME-OUTS USED PROPERLY
Younger children respond better to the naughty corner or time-out, while older children can be disciplined by taking away privileges, says Durban- based psychologist Tessa Burnard, who provides psychotherapy and assessment to children and adults.
The most important thing is to be consistent, Salvesen says. They must do exactly as you’ve asked and stay in the time-out spot. Some don’ts to be aware of: Don’t use your child’s bedroom for time-outs. Instead use a boring place such as the bathroom or a spare room.
Don’t ask “Do you want to go to timeout?” as a threat.
Don’t allow your child to stand, walk around or play instead of sitting in the designated spot.
Don’t allow your child out of time-out before time is up.
Don’t allow your child to leave timeout with a bad attitude.
HELP YOUR CHILD FEEL CENTRED
American writer, educator and consultant Emily Plank suggests parents focus on whether their children are centred before disciplining them. “When we human beings are feeling strongly (angry, sad, frustrated) we lose contact with the problem-solving area of our brain,” she writes on her site, Abundant Life Children.
You need to teach your children how to recognise when they’re “uncentred” and help them to get out of it so they can reconnect with their problem-solving brain. Disciplining children when they’re not in charge of their emotions could result in them not taking in what they’re being told, she says. You need to give them something to do to get them to that “centred” state again.
“It seems so counterintuitive to ‘give’ a child something when they’ve acted inappropriately,” Plank says. “In truth, this is the only way to be helpful. Once a child has access to her problem-solving brain she can learn how to get her needs met, make amends for any wrongs caused and work to form a strategy so it doesn’t happen again.”
TEACH KIDS TO HANDLE CONFLICT
Learning how to negotiate with others to solve problems is an essential life skill. When kids are arguing with one another, perhaps over a toy, take them through a problem-solving process, Plank says.
“With the older ones I simply enter the argument to remind them of what to do: ‘It sounds as if you’re having a disagreement. I’ll hold this toy while you solve it. Let me know when you come up with a plan’.”
With younger children, talk them through each step of the negotiation.
LOSS OF PRIVILEGES
You’ll know which privileges your child values – withhold those when the need to discipline arises, says Wilma Calvert, a counsellor and community worker at The Family Life Centre.
This is particularly effective with preteens and teens. “The removal of a cellphone or gaming console seems to be equal to a death sentence for some teens.”
Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini has come under fire for his comments supporting corporal punishment at shools.