Switch headers Switch to TIGweb.org

Are you an TIG Member?
Click here to switch to TIGweb.org

HomeHomeExpress YourselfPanoramaWe can positively discipline our children
a TakingITGlobal online publication

(Advanced Search)

Panorama Home
Issue Archive
Current Issue
Next Issue
Featured Writer
TIG Magazine
Short Story
My Content

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
We can positively discipline our children Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Ahmed Shaban A, Uganda Aug 4, 2008
Human Rights , Education , Child & Youth Rights   Opinions


The term “positive disciplining” may look like a new concept, intended to derail African people from their culture, values and practices in child upbringing. However, a closer look at this idea shows us that it is actually a revival of our long-lost and forgotten African culture of peace, love and respect for others. Our forefathers were forced to abandon their culture in favour of colonial values. They continued with colonial practices even after the colonialists left- let’s call it neo-colonialism. They were beaten and coerced to beat others as a way of forcing them into obedience and submission and as a means of showing authority.

Prior to the colonial era, adulterous men and women were made to appear before clan leaders and things would be sorted out peacefully by way of reconciliation or fines in terms of goats, sheep or chicken. In the Congo, during the reign of King Leopold, African men would have their penises chopped off for minor or imaginary infractions. This partially explains why beatings, abuses and, at worst, murder replaced such noble acts as peaceful conflict-resolution in the post-colonial era. Not surprisingly, schools, colleges, prisons and families adopted the practice of using beating and violence as a means of suppressing indiscipline.

Today, given the many changes that society has gone through, more positive ways of disciplining children have emerged. As adults, we can try our best to improve our relationships with the children under our care. This however, is a process, not an event. It is a process that has to begin with us, the adults. The term “disciplining” itself is a process. The one disciplining has to be disciplined- meaning that he/ she must learn and practice skills of positive disciplining. This is because children learn a lot from adults: from what adults say or do as well as from how they behave towards others.

The first step in this process is to learn to control emotions. In many cases where adults are frustrated with certain issues, it has always been the children who suffer. Adults have got to learn to be patient and to listen to the little ones. None of us is 100% perfect, but who said we should be 100% imperfect? Training oneself to have self-control is not a hard thing to do if someone is determined to achieve it. You only need to have the power and the will to do some of the following things:

Learn to leave past issues in the past. Try to forgive and forget. Do not dwell on an issue that annoyed you, lest it will sink deep into your nerves. If you do so you build a small prison around yourself. Doing exercises is good therapy for oneself.

Reward positive behavior. It does not cost anything because it does not always have to consist of material rewards. Personally, I do not like giving material rewards, especially to kids, as they are not sustainable. Rewarding can mean showering praises on a child at a school assembly or in a classroom, saying thank you and recognizing good work.

Give responsibilities. If an adult feels a child is coming late every day, he can try to make this child responsible by naming him or her a timekeeper: clearly explain to this child the responsibilities he/ she has and how to do handle them. Keep monitoring the child’s progress. If there is no change, then the responsible adult has to make an effort to probe into the child’s problems and, if necessary, to refer the case for counseling. This is because the problem might emanate from home.

Consult with the children. As adults we should learn to consult with children on what they want before we make decisions for them. This is exactly what we mean by children having a voice. It’s not about children dictating what they want. Rather, it’s about adults having a constructive dialogue with the little ones. Children, if regularly consulted, feel respected and valued as human beings. This also helps the parent to save money and time wasted trying to think for the child.

Children’s free interaction with fellow children is very good for their development. As children play together they share, not only material things, but their time and ideas as well. This is the exact opposite of what happens when a child is isolated or locked up in a house alone. Kids who learn from their peers always have ways of sharing what they learn with their parents. This helps parents to give guidance in case of any misleading information.

Counselling: All adults have to learn counselling skills. This helps adults and children improve their relationships. It also helps children to open up to trusted adults about their problems. Counselling is not limited to children alone. Even parents, teachers and community leaders need counselling and guidance while trying to handle children’s issues.

If some or all of the lessons mentioned above are practiced in our homes, schools and communities, we will bring up well-behaved children in our country.



You must be logged in to add tags.

Writer Profile
Ahmed Shaban A

Ahmed Shaban A. Mugweri,
Youth and Child Activist
Kampala Uganda.

Adham Tobail | Nov 2nd, 2008
good participation adham

Ahmed Shaban Abdulrahim Mugweri | Nov 12th, 2008
Thanks adham. I have a passion for working for and with young people.

You must be a TakingITGlobal member to post a comment. Sign up for free or login.