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Timeouts, countdowns and the naughty chair. Parental discipline in 2013 is tough.

What discipline used to look like

By BERN MORLEY

It used to be all about the feather duster to the bottom, the ruler to the bare knuckles and for the very unfortunate few, a whipped electrical cord to the back of the legs. Nowadays it’s more about timeouts, countdowns and the naughty chair. Welcome to disciplining your child in 2013.

The way you and I were punished growing up, is very different and completely unacceptable in today’s day and age. That’s not to say it still doesn’t happen behind closed doors. Or in some cases, quite publicly. Am I one of those parents? No. 
Was I? Yes. Am I proud of this? No. Do I realise that trying to teach a child right from wrong whilst inflicting pain is a totally backward concept? Yes, yes I do.

The loudest argument we always hear is that “it didn’t hurt me as a kid”. I’m guessing it really, really did, but I can honestly say I cannot remember and am not personally scarred by it. Often, I only received a belting (and this was a literal belting with an actual leather belt) when I had done something pretty bad. Like that time we broke our Mum and Dad’s bed after repeatedly using it as a high-jump mat. You know, the times we sent her to breaking point. Sure, today, wrapping a belt around a bare bottom, seems extreme but back then it was the norm.

My husband was the same. And from what I understand, being one of four rambunctious boys, there were enough incidences for his mother to actually break the feather duster over his arse one day. Believable, considering they (he and his brother) accidentally once set a derelict house on fire and stole their Gran’s cigarettes on a daily basis.

Bern with her boys.

I only ever got slapped once. I lied to mum and told her I was at my girlfriends for the night when I was at my boyfriends. I was 17, older by most standards, but not by hers. When she eventually found me and got me home, she simply slapped me across my face. I got up and went to my room. No further discussion was had about the matter. Did I stop lying? Yeah. I did. Did I forget it? No, I did not.

The thing is, one size does not fit all with discipline. My guinea pig, my first child, got smacked a few times. Only when I found her pinching her new born brother on the leg or the equivalent. Did it work? She never did it again.

Sam was different. I’m pretty sure he’s never received or deserved a smack in his life. He’s a pleaser. He hates to be in trouble and to be honest, all it has ever taken is a stern word and he folds.

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Jack. Well imagine a hurricane and a cyclone had a baby and then fed it frozen coke. That’s Mr Jack. I soon figured out physical punishment didn’t work with him. Time outs and removal of his possessions are my only currency. Sometimes this is hard to pull off in a public space however.We went to visit my friend the other day in the hospital. We rocked up, one very hungover husband and 3 relatively calm children, washed our hands and headed on in to meet everyone. Jack was really sweet with the new baby. He stroked her hands, stared at her in wonder and then approximately 30 seconds later started jumping off the window ledge.

In came other visitors, another lovely friend and her three children. Now these three children sat like angels. They were happy to hold the baby, sit in one spot and not yell or interrupt their mother.

How do you discipline children in 2013?

Meanwhile, Sam was constantly attempting to tickle his severely hungover father. Jack, if not trying to tempt the golden orb spider into the maternity suite was speaking in his loudest voice and telling anyone who would listen that my friend had “two bums and that’s how she had the baby!” We were that diabolical family. The one that leaves a giant void when they leave a room. And not one that people are keen to refill.

So would a bloody big belting have stopped that behaviour? Perhaps. Do I want to beat my child into submission? No. Is there a middle road that can be taken in this day and age? I really wish I knew. See here’s the conundrum we new age parents find ourselves in. We don’t want to smack our children and yet we don’t want to let them get away with blue murder either.

I understand that kids have to learn that there are consequences to every action, however consequences are all well and good when the children can understand the concept. What do we do until then? Mime? Stop taking them out of the house?

How did you grow up? Were there smacks doled out at home? At school?  From grandma? Is there a place in modern parenting for the smack?

Love to hear your thoughts.

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