Small giants 8 August, 2017 Isabel Vallejo
Knowing how to say “no,” having authority, and disciplining children helps them become more responsible and independent.
Advisor Gloria Hurtado Castañeda, Psycologist
We have all seen those children on the floor of the supermarket in such a bad tantrum that even the store’s security staff must come help, because their parents would not give in to what they wanted or give them the latest product being sold in the market: a new toy car, the latest doll or the popular figurine from the most recent big-screen cartoon.
Whispers of those watching say: “What a spoiled kid,” “That kid is such an embarrassment to her parents,” “What that boy needs, is a good punishment.” Meanwhile, the parents are trying to subdue the intense fury of their children and must deal with the embarrassment. See also Superior skills, superior kids
This problem leads to one question: How can you set boundaries while raising children? We live in a time where it is almost encouraged to be the child’s friend. For psychologist Gloria Hurtado Castañeda, this notion could not be further from the truth, “They can have thousands of friends, tons of them, but they only have one father and one mother, no one else, you can’t ever change that.” Perhaps this is the first step to setting boundaries; understanding that children are there to receive guidance and to be taught so they can be shown the way.
Thinking long term
“You have to set boundaries with children. You have to teach them that parents are the ones that keep their lives in order, and that that is not negotiable. One of the problems that occurs in today’s world is that parents don’t stick to their word; the parent will set a punishment in case the child fails the school year saying, for example, that the child will have to change schools. The child later doesn’t pass and ends up going to the same school. No! You have to stick to your word because next time they won’t pay attention to you. This is also a call to parents to not speak out of anger; if they set a punishment, it is better for them to follow through with it,” our expert says. See also Conscientious kids and daily chores
In Europe, for example, France refuses to join the list of 51 countries around the world that prohibit spanking children as a form of childrearing. In fact, these are the only ones that go against the norms of modern society in the sense that they advocate for eliminating physical punishment. This is why the Council of Europe demanded this of them in 2015. The French defend their tradition and argue that thanks to spanking, their children do not throw tantrums and are well-behaved, and that they have an obedient and free generation.
How to discipline without going overboard
“One thing is child abuse, and another is spanking with your hand. I am not talking about using a flip-flop or a belt, no. I’m talking about a few spankings as a way to repress or punish them. I think that this is important for the child’s upbringing and for children to have a respectful relationship with their parents,” our expert says who adds that if a loving and authoritative relationship is established with children when they are very young, this form of punishment will only need to be used sparingly.
Another point to consider is the need to use the word “no,” as it is very common for children to not pay attention to negation when parents give in easily to whatever they want, whether that be a toy from the supermarket, a television program or the use of cell phones or tablets at inappropriate times. “Things seem to be backwards, as children become the ones that enforce the rules of the house. This must also be discussed with those that take care of the children, who are often the grandparents, and they must be told that the rules must be enforced”.
While good discipline is the foundation of setting boundaries, Hurtado Castañeda suggests that there are things that can be negotiated such as children wanting to dress a certain way or what they do not want to eat: “When children do not want to eat, then yes, tell them ‘okay.’ But don’t exchange the food for whatever other food the child wants. Tell them that they can’t eat until it is time for the next meal.” This helps make children become independent and stick to the rules, this makes them free.
Children must learn to understand the value of material objects, the effort parents make to obtain them, and how to manage money. This message will help them fight for what they want in life.