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Disciplining your child

Posted on: May 26, 2017

 
You might be reading this because of the clickbait title and image. I hope you read on even though this reflection is not about punishing your child. It is about inculcating discipline.

Earlier this week, my son decided to share what his school mates do for meals outside of school. Some of them have such huge allowances that they drink a Starbucks coffee every day. Others microwave marked up and over-processed food at a 7-11.

Some might argue that the kids are not drinking actual coffee nor are they consuming good food. I choose not to focus on this health issue. Instead I wish to share some strategies of helping kids manage their money, their time, and themselves.

Managing money
Some of my son’s classmates come from rich households and this shows in their allowances. Their weekly expenditure on Starbucks alone exceeds my son’s weekly allowance and public transport fares combined.

Parents want the best for their kids and for me this does not meaning giving them everything they want or more than they need. It means nurturing good values and attitudes with something as basic as managing one’s allowance.

One simple way to help kids manage finances is to discuss their weekly allowance and to show them how to use it. This means getting down to specifics of what they might eat at breaks and lunch, and how much to spend.

My son also has to save part of his allowance to buy what he wants. This is typically e-wallet gaming money which can take a few months to build up. This teaches him not only the basics of financial literacy, but also how to prioritise and to persevere.

Managing time
Money is tangible in that it can be held or exchanged for some commodity. Time less so.

Kids will spend hours on devices if we let them and if we do not teach them how to walk away. Even adults are guilty of doing this, so who are we to judge? But judge we must because kids need to learn to allocate time to different tasks.

We do two things in our home to help my son manage his computer gaming time. We discuss limits and we use a timer.

When he was younger, we typed up and laminated a contract that stated expectations, limits, and consequences. We stuck the contract on the computer desk where he plays and works.

Now that he is older, we do not rely on the old contract. We have a spoken agreement on how much time he can spend on the computer on weekdays and weekends. He sets the timer, and when it goes off, he has to stop using the computer.

This means that he must decide how much time and effort he can spend with his gaming buddies. His expeditions must be planned instead of leaving everything to chance or emergence.

Managing self
Managing one’s finances and time are part of managing one’s self. But there are other aspects of self management, e.g., social behaviours.

A significant issue growing up is dealing with negative peer pressure. The do’s and don’ts are too numerous to list, so we have opted not to fight that battle. Listing a set of “commandments” does not teach a child to think critically and independently.

Instead I introduced the concept of “spheres of influence” to my son. I told him that when he was younger, my wife and I were the only ones in that sphere. As he grew up more relatives, other adults, friends, and acquaintances stepped in and out of that sphere.

The growing sphere is a natural function of learning in social contexts. However, only his original parental sphere has his best interest in mind. The other spheres may have non-ideal or less altruistic goals.

My son experiences this for himself every day, so the spheres of influence are not just a theoretical concept. If we tell him what and why he needs to do something, he knows we have his well-being in mind.

The spheres shape each person and condense into who they are. The quality of a person manifests itself in self-management and some expressions are more obvious than others.

I look for small evidence of self-management. He clears his food tray without being reminded. He does not abandon his bag in a public place. He greets “uncles” and “aunties” on his own.

Being a mild child, he is shy about the last one and needs constant reminding. But that is why he has parents. We are there to instil that discipline.

2 Responses to "Disciplining your child"

E Tan: Disciplining your child ashleytan.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/dis… via twitter.com

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