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By Winnie Gaturu
The worst part of parenting is when you have to deal with your child’s ill behavior. Every parent wants their kid to grow up into a responsible adult. However, the disciplining part can be difficult especially when dealing with teenagers. Recently, a mom streamed herself online, shaving off the hair of her 14-year old daughter as punishment for being disrespectful. Many criticized her actions citing that it may lead to low self-esteem and even psychological issues. A dad shaved his kid’s head into an ‘old man’ cut because he was acting ‘too grown.’ This begs the question, how far is too far when it comes to punishing kids?
Parents have varying opinions when it comes to matters of discipline. Some think that the rod is the best answer, others are the negotiating and talking type while others believe in scaring the child straight. When it comes to the African-American community, most people grew up with their parents spanking them. It is a common form of punishment that has been passed down from generation to generation. As a matter of fact, some of the older folk believe that children who are not spanked end up spoiled. Although there isn’t much research supporting this claim, many still believe it is true. Regardless of the method you use to discipline your children, there’s a limit to how far you can go. If your actions lead to physical injuries or psychological trauma, this is no longer punishment, it is abuse.
It is tempting to take a drastic measure in order to teach your teen some manners. However, you should calm down first and think things through carefully. In most cases, parents usually act out of anger and end up taking extreme disciplinary measures.
Instead of resulting to shaming, Dr. Gross suggests that parents do the following instead:
1. Talk with your kids regularly
When doing so, pick a neutral space to talk so that everyone can have an equal footing. A good place could be the kitchen. Ensure that when having these regular talks, everyone has equal time to speak. Actively listen to your child and show how you feel, don’t defend.
2. Use positive reinforcement to praise good behavior
Practice positive reinforcement of the behaviors you want to see in your child. It is a good way of disciplining your kids without them realizing that it is a form of discipline. So, every time they do the right thing or behave well, let them know that you are proud of them.
3. Create consequences for bad behavior
When having the talk mentioned earlier, you should let your child know the consequences for bad behavior. It shouldn’t be an attack but more of a conversation. This way, your teen knows exactly what they are getting themselves into when they do a certain thing wrong.
4. Don’t personalize your child’s bad behavior
Parents sometimes personalize their children’s bad behavior. This prevents them from thinking objectively when it comes to deciding on a form of punishment. It is therefore important for parents to calm down before issuing a punishment of any kind to their kids to avoid doing something they might regret.