Saturday, August 30, 2008

Child Discipline, My Style

One look at my daughter and most people we meet are quick to judge that she is a spoiled brat. I’m talking about plain first impression here - just an observation of her innate bubbliness and self confidence.

She looks like a kid who gets anything on a whim, with just a whine or a snap of her little fingers. Well, that is not even close to who she really is.

So English is her first language, which makes her look like a snob to some kids her age who speak the native tongue; she looks like a Barbie doll when she sports fashionable clothes often mistaken as expensive and branded, which were actually just put together from the nice pieces I chance upon in clothing store sales; she hummed her first song, "Canon in D" by Pachelbel, when she was a year old and sang her first full song,“You”, by Karen Carpenter when she was barely 2 years old, no wonder she loves to perform in front of a crowd without having to push her to do so; she is inquisitive, mingles well with adults and can carry a sensible conversation; she is also smart, loving, charming, funny - every parent’s dream daughter. But above everything that she is, I’m lucky that she grew up to be very down-to-earth and nowhere near a brat.

Young and gifted as she is, I always tell her to remember these words: “You can be the best that you can be, but in this world, you cannot have everything you want.” My Dad taught me that early in life.

The BMX bike was the latest craze when I was young and almost all of my friends already got theirs from their parents. So my sister and I were crying our eyes out to have our own, but Dad stood firm and did not give in. He felt it was too early for us to have it. I’ll never forget what he said to us then:

"When you ask God for something, and it doesn't come, there are 2 reasons why: 1. It's not yet time for you to have it, but it will come in His own time and schedule, or, 2. He doesn't want you to have it because it will do you no good."

We never questioned his decision from then on; and true enough, we got the bike at a later time as a gift from a family friend.

That’s exactly what I’m teaching my daughter now - to understand why there are things that she cannot have. Be it a new toy, a circumstance, a wish that she so desires, I ask her to be patient; for if it is meant to be hers, it will come in its own perfect time.

I’m glad that now, I don’t need the rod or belt to discipline my child. When she was younger, she needed a spank or two and a shout with my matching engorged eyes look, to send the message that she’s doing something wrong. But as she grew older, I discovered that words are far more powerful to instill lessons meant to be remembered for life.

Forgive me if I don’t fully believe in the saying, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

Yes, I had my fair share of belt whacks on the behind from my Mom when I was young, and I turned out just fine. That’s the popular mode of discipline being practiced before, but nowadays kids are different; they have become incredibly smart, mature and receptive. I believe that talking to them and explaining why a certain deed is wrong is better than inflicting physical pain to let them remember out of fear, the repercussion of their wrongdoings.

I try to keep an open communication with the little lady and constantly assure her that she can tell me anything – both the good and the bad. I don’t want her to keep secrets out of fear of punishment or rejection. In fact, between the two of us, we have a "No Secret Policy." :)

She still gets Mommy's tiger look; the occasional high pitch voice calling her name in full; the timeout and the silent corner when she gets out of control.

But it is best that she knows that no matter what, Mommy will always be here to love and understand her unconditionally. I think that's an important truth she needs to remember, most of all.