Positive discipline: The new way of parenting
Parents across all economic status experience difficulties disciplining their children. They end up complaining on how their children have become hard-headed, spoiled, arrogant and disrespectful.
The truth is, the Filipino norm when it comes to disciplining children is to punish them. I grew up seeing my cousins, my neighbors, my classmates, my own siblings being spanked, and slapped when they do something wrong or when they talk back to my parents.
Forms of punishment
Filipino elders would often have a “parents’ talk” and after a parent expresses a problem with one child, another parent would quip back “hindi mo kasi dinidisiplina yang anak mo”!
(You are not disciplining your child!)
This usually means practicing corporal punishment for the child to stop being delinquent and grow up in a “straight path." (tamang landas)
While there are those of us who grew up into “normal” adults after going through wide-ranging forms of corporal punishment, a number of us turned out nursing the physical, emotional and even psychological effects of this practice.
Corporal punishment has affected our family values. On one hand, children become bitter and hate their parents and guardians. On the other, adults who went through harsh punishments parent their children exactly the same way with the sincere belief that this is the only correct way to instil discipline.
Now, are we still surprised why domestic violence is rampant among Filipino families, being the “normal” course of a Filipino child’s life?
The world is changing. Children and young people are going through the developmental stage of their lives very differently and distinctly from what we have gone through.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a comprehensive document stating children's rights all over the world, signed by the Philippine government in 1989, has categorically stated that the right of the child to survival, development, protection and participation should be recognized.
Experts in child psychology has produced studies on the effects of corporal punishment on children and therefore, questioning such practice in child-rearing.
So what is with positive discipline?
Positive Discipline is “an approach that teaches children and guides their behaviors while respecting their rights."
Dr. Joan Durrant, a Canadian family therapist who introduced this concept, cites the major characteristics of positive discipline, namely:
- Non-violent and respectful of the child as a learner
- About finding long-term solutions that develop children’s own self-discipline
- Involves clear communication of parents’ expectations, rules and limits,
- Builds a mutually respectful relationship between parent and child,
- Teaches children life-long skills,
- Increases children's competence and confidence to handle challenging situations,
- Teaches courtesy, non-violence, empathy, self-respect, human rights and respect for others.
PD reminds us adults, parents and guardians that discipline is not the same as punishment. Various societies have their distinct ways of teaching children.
A cross-cultural study on the use of corporal punishment in child-rearing conducted in 2010, where the Philippines was included as one of the 9 countries studied, presented observations on harsh and non-harsh physical forms of discipline.
Harsh physical and power‐assertive discipline is associated with negative child outcome - externalizing problems, aggression, antisocial or delinquent behavior & poor psychological adjustment - associated with parental rejection and hostility.
Non‐harsh and inductive discipline (i.e. use of reasoning) is associated with positive child outcomes - higher self‐regulation, more competent behaviors, positive social relationships.
Corporal punishment is “deeply entrenched in our culture and associated with deeply held values” suggesting that we parents, have the power and control over our children.
Let's face it, we defend this form of disciplining our children simply because this is the norm.
But the truth is, PD re-defined parenting and reiterated that children are humans. They deserve respect. They may have done wrong things but they do not deserve such punishment, however light or harsh it can be.
It's time to change. There is now a demand to learn new skills in parenting and change our violent and harsh ways in relating and dealing with our children and young people.
PD argues that non-violent and non-corporal ways of disciplining children is the way to lead them to the straight path. Likewise, through the practice of PD, we parents feel “empowered” rather than helpless. - Rappler.com
Marichu Belarmino is the director of PETA Advocates Right to Safety Zone (ARTS Zone) project. PETA ARTS Zone is campaigning for positive discipline as a way of rearing children.