Being a good parent means taking care of your children, providing for them, and raising them to be productive members of society. And to be a good parent one must provide children with rules and consequences for breaking those rules. That is discipline. Discipline is such a misunderstood concept. Partly because it has been misused by so many people who think that disciplining a child means causing them pain when they misbehave and that couldn’t be further from the truth. When a parent causes pain and suffering to a child that is abuse. There is a world of difference between disciplining and abusing a child. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand the difference.
One simple way of looking at it is to attribute emotions to the actions. Discipline is an act of love. It comes from a place of caring. When a child misbehaves they run the risk of harming themselves and/or others. We must teach them that their actions have consequences. Discipline is disagreeing with misbehavior and is essential for the development of a child.
Abuse is an act of anger and it comes from frustration brought on by ignorance. Abuse takes the form of yelling, belittling, striking, and/or punishments. And sometimes, abuse is very subtle. Abuse is not just about hitting a child. Words can be just as hurtful as a strick. Abuse is verbal and non-verbal but it is still abuse. When we discipline a child we must examine our state of mind and ask ourselves, “Am I frustrated with my child right now?” If the answer is yes, then we must take a second to analyze what exactly is it that is causing us frustration. Being a good parent means being in control of your emotions at all times. Easier said than done, right? Nevertheless, it is what we need to do because when we discipline children out of anger, it will have catastrophic consequences.
You might be asking why am I talking about parenting and disciplining children on a blog about pets. The answer is simple. The two correlate because just as children need rules to be productive members of society, pets also need rules to be healthy and balanced. Our pets need discipline as much as they need food and affection. Pets without rules and discipline are unbalanced and do not live a satisfied life just as a child would be if they didn’t have rules and discipline.
Pets and children aren’t all that dissimilar. In fact, psychologically, most pets and toddlers are identical. If you ever watched young children play, you’ll see a lot of similarities when you watch young pets play. And when they get out of hand, both human and animal parents often step in to stop the behavior. It’s how they learn. If parents don’t discipline children or pets, they never learn to act appropriately. But, again, it must come from a place of caring and love, not anger. Animals have this packed. They discipline their kids using their instinct. We, on the other hand, are at the mercy of what our parents taught us who were at the mercy of what their parent taught them and so on. We have learned to suppress our natural instincts and instead we rely on our knowledge be our guide. Unfortunately, we humans are still animals and we often don’t have the right knowledge tools available to us. And so when we lack the correct knowledge, our emotions take over and that’s when we can get into trouble. That’s when we get abuse.
I’d like to challenge you to rethink “discipline” to redefine the concept. I want you to realize that it is an important part of development. That it isn’t the torture device used by tyrants. Think back on how your parents applied it and how you may be able to improve upon it. If your parents got it wrong, don’t just toss it aside, learn from it. If you’re a productive member of society, chances are they did some things right.