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The balancing act

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THE MIDDLE PATH Follow it while dealing with kids.
THE MIDDLE PATH Follow it while dealing with kids.

Would sparing the rod mean saving or spoiling your child, asks BINDU TOBBY

Recently as I waited my turn at thebilling counter in a mall, I noticed athree-year-old throw a particularlynoisy tantrum - he stood on top ofthe counter, screeching loudly enoughfor everyone within a mile to stop andtake notice. Seeing his mom embarrassed,yet mollycoddling and sweettalking him, I wanted to intervene andput an end to the scene but stopped.While it was easy to judge the parent as a`spoiler' and the child as spoilt, I wonderedwhat I would have done if it weremy little fellow.

We've heard too many adages when itcomes to disciplining or punishing children.If we've heard of "spare the rod andspoil the child", we've also heard of"spare the rod and save the child". Iscorporal punishment such as beating away of making children understand rightfrom wrong? Or should we only patientlyreason with children in the hope thatthey will learn from their mistakes?Should we as parents tolerate our tots'ego, anger, violence and tantrums?

Says T. Zacharias, father of four-yearoldAadarsh and one-year-old Aatmika,"Like everything else in life, it's all aboutstriking a balance. The intent should alwaysbe to get the message across inwhichever way the child understandsbest. The chances of Gen Next gettingspoilt if the rod is spared are that muchmore because of their overexposure tomedia that propagates violence, consumerism,materialism, sleaze and dilutionof moral standards. Obviously the otherextreme, which is an overdose of punishment,will result in children losingtheir connect with you and doing thingson the sly for fear of being punished," headds.

Agrees Supriya Ajay, mother of Ashwinand Maria: "I have always believed ina middle path when it comes to discipliningchildren. So when the children throwtemper tantrums or are unnecessarilystubborn even after I have reasoned withthem, I have a plastic ruler which I`threaten' them with", she winks. "ThankGod, I've never used it till date, but thefear is enough most of the time!" shelaughs.

"There are also times when we getannoyed with children who do things outof carelessness - spill the milk on thefloor or draw on the walls - despite severalwarnings. In such cases, I swallowmy temper and punish them by takingaway a favourite toy or banning televisionand cartoons for a day. That seemsto work well," she adds."My wife and I wield the `stick' and`carrot', respectively. The `carrot' role isquite convenient for me," laughs AnandNatarajan, adding, "If we encourage andpush children in their interest areas, youwill be amazed at their physical andmental strengths and abilities. And thatpositive energy keeps them well out oftrouble!"

Says Rani Mathew, grandmother offour: "I grew up in a household whereevery mistake culminated in varying degreesof smacks and whacks!" she recallslaughing. "Of course, we need to appreciateand adapt to the changes that comewith each passing generation - nuclearfamilies with one or two children arecommon these days while I was the 13thchild in my family! My experience seemsto prove the effectiveness of the rod andI feel children best understand the importanceof avoiding something wrongonly when there is pain, in sufficientmeasure, that acts as a deterrent. Extremelypainful beating and hurtfulwords are a strict no for parents, becausethat leaves kids bitter and wanting to getback."

Of course, at the end we all know thatno two children come from the samebackground, whether economic, socialor educational. And no two parents arethe same, be it character, personalitytraits or parenting styles. Quite obviously,your unique style is what works bestfor your child, with or without the rod.After all, one of the greatest gifts we canleave behind in this world is a futuregeneration which has imbibed good valuesand lives responsibly in society.

Find your path

The extent to which you use or spare the rod is unique to your parenting style

More often than not, a balance between the two deters your child from doing wrong

The rod should not imply corporal punishment. Painful beating or even hurtful words can have a detrimental effect

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