Spare the rod, spoil the child
As hands-on parenting becomes ‘hands off!’ how can parents ensure their children do not become lawless little rebels?

As hands-on parenting becomes ‘hands off!’ how can parents ensure their children do not become lawless little rebels?

The old adage, ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ suggests that without some sort of physical punishment being administered children are bound to become selfish and behave badly, wanting everything their way.

I am certainly no proponent of corporal punishment in any shape or form, but perhaps it is time to adapt this saying and apply it less literally.

It is certainly a fact that today’s child does not face too many deterrents for misbehaviour. Teachers may not strike pupils when they are badly behaved – no matter how badly. And that is a good thing. Corporal punishment is open to abuse, and we need to protect our children from any kind of abuse – especially in today’s climate of violence.

While parents may still apply a smack or two, this seems about to change with new legislation on the cards.

Again, in many cases where children are slapped indiscriminately or even beaten, this is of course a positive development. At least children who are victims of abuse may have some recourse to the law.

So how then are we to teach our children that there are consequences for being disobedient, recalcitrant and outright rebellious?

The importance of teaching Respect

I’d like to suggest that teaching that old basic, RESPECT, could go a long way to helping youngsters in making choices regarding their behaviour. And this means not only ‘respecting your elders’ but having respect for self and peers too.

Too often adolescents seem to have the idea that respecting others, respecting rules, respecting institutions like schools, and the family is ‘uncool’. A‘cool’ image is all important, and when you are ‘cool’, there seems to be no room for treating others with respect.

A little respect goes a long way, and it is an easy precept to teach. It can be taught from a very early age, and once it has been inculcated it will be part of the child’s behaviour forever.

Having respect for self and others may not be the answer for all ills, but it certainly is a good start to teaching positive behaviour patterns! And positive behaviour patterns means much less need for any kind of punitive action.

The effects of teaching Respect

Children who know how and when to be respectful to others are much less likely to misbehave. If they have been taught to respect others, then they will find it natural to behave well in class. This in turn may stimulate a good work ethic: they will be more likely to seek positive attention from their teachers rather than the other kind.

Respecting you, the parent, means the child will be more likely to adhere to rules made by you regarding their behaviour at home and at school. And having self-respect, so important for any child, naturally means that they will police their own behaviour.

Rebelliousness is of course a natural part of adolescence. But with the necessary levels of respect for those in charge of them, the adolescent is more likely to be brought to adopt a sensible approach when being verbally chastised for some form of irresponsible behaviour.

So let’s try our level best to take the time to teach children how important respect is, and get them to adopt respect as an integral part of their code of conduct.

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