Talk-2-Me: Is Harshness the Best Approach to Discipline?

Rahama Obadak
Marketing & Comms, Flexisaf

Halima is a bright young student. She’s full of energy, often daydreams and can be quite mischievous. First she pricks a classmate with a sharp object, and then shouts and screams when confronted about it. She always gives her a teachers a tough time because of her unruly attitude. The last time her teacher reported her to her parents, Halima said the classes were boring, she needed something fun. It became increasingly difficult to control Halima and so the school threatened to expel her if she behaved badly again. At this point, her parents were desperate, they didn’t know what to do. It was at this point her mother thought that perhaps it was time to seek help from a counsellor.What was the problem?Upon arrival at the counsellor’s, Halima’s mother began telling the counselor about her daughter’s mischief and how now, she’s getting expelled from school if it didn’t stop. “Please do something” She pleaded. “I am desperate”The counsellor nodded “OK. But can I talk to you first before talking to the child?”The counsellor asked Halima’s mother how she has been treating the little girl, how she corrected her when she did wrong, and how she reacted whenever Halima misbehaved.Halima’s mother, Aisha admitted that she was in fact, very strict with Halima and had always been. She admitted that sometimes she ignored her daughter’s wrongdoings because she was beginning to feel overwhelmed. She admitted that before now, Halima had been intimidated by her, but the girl is becoming increasingly stubborn. She feared no one anymore, and even the threats that worked in the past no longer worked.“See” retorted the counselor “The problem is from you first. Have you ever taken the time to explain to the girl why she shouldn’t be doing what she was doing?”“Not really. I always thought yelling was more effective. In the past she always stopped whenever I yelled ” She replied sadly“How is she treated in school?” asked the counsellor “The same way. With yells and threats” She replied “But they just don’t work.”If the threats didn’t work, what will?Aisha asked “So, what do I do now?”The counsellor sighed “You need to change your discipline style. You need to more authoritative than authoritarian.”Aisha looked lost.“Being an authoritative parent means you will listen your child’s side of the story, explain to them the consequences of their behaviour and be gentle at first but firm and consistent. You are a friend first, then a parent. This gives the child a better understanding of their actions and teaches responsibility which means less behaviour problems.”He continued “On the other side, authoritarian means you are overly strict and controlling, you employ threats and you hardly ever listen to the child’s side of the story. This might work at first, but in the long term it leads to rebellion, problems with self esteem and behaviour problems. Mostly because of the child’s resentment towards the adult. Which from my understanding you are doing right now.”The counsellor handed her a score sheet. “So change your style to authoritative and use this score sheet to record progress. Also encourage the school to employ this style of discipline. After all, the kids spend much more at schools than home nowadays” He smiled “Good luck and I’d see you in 6 weeks. Don’t hesitate to call if you have any questions.”Aisha got up “Thank you very much. I sure will”After Six WeeksAfter employing the authoritative parenting style, Halima recorded a dramatic improvement in behaviour. She was now a little bit more easy going than before. Her grades had also improved and she was less troublesome in class.What discipline styles do you think are the best. Do share with us and many others on this platform. We’d love to learn from you!