Philosophy Regarding Guidance And Discipline For Young Children

The philosophy of discipling and guiding children is to teach and to have the child learn to live in accordance with reasonable rules.

To discipline means to teach. To be well disciplined is to have learned to live in accordance with the reasonable rules and regulations society has set up for the behavior of its members. Unless the child learns from each disciplinary situation how better to govern his conduct, effective discipline has not been developed. Parents must accept for themselves the idea that successful discipline results in learning. When they approach situations in which a child must adapt themselves to demands made upon them as learning situations, many problems usually thought of in connection with discipline disappear.

Unfortunately, the word discipline has come to have other less constructive meanings. Far too often discipline is thought of as punishment. To many people, to discipline a child means to spank him or use some other method of punishment. Such people consider discipline a way of either keeping a child from doing something or of forcing him to do something.

It is the task of parents to build within themselves and within the children with whom they live this capacity for self-direction, based upon an understanding of what is required of individuals in a democratic society. This means learning to act in those ways known to be necessary for the "good life", not for one's self alone but also for others.



Developing the capacity for self-discipline in a child is a long, slow process. Much patience is required on the part of the parents. During this development it is important that the child's self confidence and comfortable acceptance of himself should never be sacrificed in a disciplinary battle; instead it should be increased through the ways in which his parents meet disciplinary situations. Many parents show a good deal of impatience if the little child does not rapidly learn how to keep clean, eat well, be orderly, and do what he is told. They are so eager for him to achieve these things that they seem to try to push him rapidly through his baby period. They seem also to think that learning to do these things at the earliest possible age will place the child one jump ahead in the competitive race for success. Expecting too much too early is a common mistake and results in many battles.

Until a child reaches adulthood himself he is not able to live a self-sufficient existence; he needs adult support, and particularly the support of parents. The amount of support changes with age, but not the need for it.

Before parents set the limits and put on the necessary controls, they need to realize that there are stages in the emotional and social growth of children at which they can be expected to be indifferent to various limitations of the parents. It is very difficult as a parent to set these limits, but also necessary is discipline to obtain the correct results.

As a rule, it is best that punishment not be used with the child up to the age of about two, even if the child understands what he is being punished for. The punishment causes too much anxiety in the child. In some unusual cases a child will think if he displeases the parents they might leave him. It is better at this age to use approval and reward, patience and repetition, instead of punishment.

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