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

DRUM - - Contents -

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.”

BY DRUM TEAM

Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini has come un­der fire for his com­ments sup­port­ing cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment at shools.

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