AS a mother and educationist, I read last Sunday's article "Use positive ways, not the cane" with much interest. When children become boorish, selfish, thoughtless, obnoxious or indisciplined, who should be responsible?
Parents? Schools? Teachers? Society? I believe that it is human nature to resist authority from time to time.
When children become rebellious, they are testing the authority -- be it parents or teacher -- to see how far they can go.
What they really want is reassurance that we are firm and strong but still caring. They need and must have boundaries within which they can operate and authority to whom they can go with confidence to get the direction to succeed in life.
Children do all these because they are hurting. When we understand this fact, it helps us to love them even when they are being unlovable.
Some parents today bring up children with overt permissiveness. We overindulge them. We give them everything and let our children run loose. This sets the expectation in our children that others should treat them the same way.
This is certainly poor preparation for survival in today's world. We should remember that discipline and order are part of the natural laws of the universe.
Children who are not being disciplined with love by the family will be disciplined without love by the big world.
So comes the big question: what is discipline? Unfortunately, it is one of the most misunderstood words in the English language. Many think of it as punishment or as something unpleasant.
In Greek, the word denotes chastening, correcting, upbringing, training, instruction, education, and reproof. Therefore, the purpose of discipline is positive, mainly to produce a wholesome person, free from the faults that hinder maximum development.
Reflectively, the word "discipline" comes from "disciple", meaning "a follower of a teacher".
A disciple should follow his teacher out of love or conviction, and not out of fear of punishment. Certainly, positive and caring parents, teachers, schools and societies would want their children to follow them and their rules because they love and trust them, not because they fear them.
Real discipline is an expression of love and is a long range best interest. The disciplined person is the one who does what needs to be done when it needs to be done.
Is physical discipline necessary? One of the most significant aspects of maturity is learning to be self-controlled or self-disciplined.
We can answer this by quoting psychologist James Dobson.
He says: "If punishment does not influence human behaviour, then why is the issuance of speeding citations by police so effective in controlling traffic on a busy street? Why then do homeowners rush to get their tax payments in the mail to avoid a six per cent penalty for being late? If punishment has no power then why does a well-deserved spanking often turn a sullen little trouble-maker into a sweet and loving angel?"
And remember these words of wisdom: "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him" and "The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to itself disgraces his mother".
We can take this to mean that the rod was primarily used to protect, rescue and guide the child.
By Khadijah Rohani, Kuala Lumpur
Source: New Straits Times Letters to the Editors 10 June 2012