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Note: This is just my personal summary of what I understood from Amy McCready’s book “If I have to Tell you One More Time”

There is a big difference between punishment and discipline. I feel most of us were brought up in the punishment era more than discipline. We were afraid of the outcome, hence we stop ourselves from doing it OR we find a way to do it without our parents’ knowledge. I recall the time when my parents used to punish me for not doing well academically by forcing me to increase my study time. So what I did was I went to my room to “study” but in fact I was reading a story book in between by school books.

Punishment means that we always act negatively to a negative behavior. You play with your food, hence you are grounded to your room early. You do not want to keep your toys before meal, hence you are sent to a time-out until you repent or you finish your course of time-out period given. Punishment normally ends up with both sides unhappy, tired & some do not even recall what was it all about and just wants the day to end quickly.

Discipline on the other hand teaches your child what was wrong and give a higher percentage of cooperation..wait, it is WILLING cooperation in future. And as they grow, they will truly understand the reason behind the discipline rather than not doing something because they are too afraid of what punishments will be given to them.

Now, many of us asks ourselves, why can’t these punishment work on my own kids as they did work for myself when my parents imposed the same type of punishment. I recall how “good” I was when I refused to take even fruits from relatives without my mother’s consent (however, as I grew older I ate junk food behind my mother’s back..hahahaha). According to McCready, it is because our environment has changed throughout time. Democracy plays a huge role in this generation. They are also exposed to the internet where they can communicate with friends or find more information and realized that parents do not really have the right to punish them as they like. They notice how the teachers at school respect them and respect their colleagues. Even at our workplace, it is a different ballgame altogether. Previously it was more like “Do as you are told and do not ask too much questions”. But in this era it is more open and management of a lot of companies is open to employee’s thoughts on how to improve the working environment. Kids are the best observers. And when they observe that the environment now is more to democracy, they tend to NOT follow your punishment and hence the daily struggles.

Another point in McCready first chapter is why Time-Outs and Counting to 1,2,3 does not work in a long term running. Time-Out may work the first few times or when the kids are younger. However, it will normally turn out to be a power struggle. An example was given n a kid who played happily with his toy train and wanted to try to put it up on a shelf when suddenly his mother calls him for dinner. Of course he would not want to leave his train without reaching his mission. Hence he said just a few more minutes. And of course as a parent, this is unacceptable because it IS dinner time afterall and not playing time. So, after a few tries on getting her kid to get ready for dinner, she got fed up and punished him to a time-out zone. All the while sitting at the corner, the kid was trying to figure out how to put his train on that shelf and whenever he gets an idea, he will go for it. Mummy of course catches him and forces the time-out to start again. This goes on for 45minutes. Do we have a winner? Or do we have two individuals who went through a POWER STRUGGLE and were just too tired to eat or even talk to each other.

Another way is counting to 3. This way may also work for many occasions, but in actual fact, we are actually giving our child more time to do what they are doing before they follow your instruction. They know that it is wrong but since you have given them more time to finish off what they were doing, they will surely do it as fast as they can before you reach 3.

Personally I have never tried time-out before but have seen it with my own eyes when my sister used it on her children previously. I still do not find it harmful but it does make sense on the power struggle. And thinking back, IF my parents did that to me when I was younger, I might have just think about how much I hated my parents who does not understand me and just think of a way to run away from this punishment the next time. My son is just 21months old, I cannot promise I will not use this way as a way out from positive disciplining but I will surely try my best.

As for counting to 3…I am guilty. My husband and I used this way quite a number of times now especially when my toddler stands on the chair which he knows he is not allowed too. He does wait till we count to 3 before he sits. I am trying to change my approach on this, so wish me luck :P
1 Response
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Good luck. The best is the most you can give. Remember that.

    - HJ

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