Correcting a child can be termed abusive when a parent becomes personal and harsh with the type of punitive measures used to discipline the child. As an 8 year old little girl, Susan found it difficult having a personal relationship with her family members most especially her mother. For every mistake she could predict the reaction gotten; Sometimes a slap from behind, lashes of cane, punishment of all sorts, insulting words and above all meal denial for days.
Susan’s mother, thinking she was doing her daughter good, was all an act of correction or so she thought. Unknown to her, she was abusing her physically and emotionally.
This act of correction made Susan a victim of emotional and physical abuse which totally destroyed her self-esteem. She became scared of talking among her peers. She grew with the mentality of being rejected not bothering to relate with anyone. The only persons who understood her were her father and elder sister. Whenever she does any wrong these two people correct her with soft words and make her understand the dangers in the wrong she had done. These two were the only ones she regarded as family.
There is a very thin line between discipline and punishment; which ultimately leads to abuse. A child is said to be abused when the corrective measures taken by the parent to discipline a child inflicts injury on the child either Physically or emotionally. Correction is non-punitive disciplinary measures used to discipline a child .
It is quite unavoidable to talk about correcting a child without looking at it from the angle of discipline. Discipline is one of the elements of parenting. Most parents find it difficult to draw the line between correcting a child in an empathic way.
If you, however, punish your child instead of disciplining them, the end result will not be the same. Punishment is an act of anger and impulse. It happens when a parent takes things personally; the use of object on a child inflicts injury on a child and that breed’s fear in the child.
Fear and Respect do not work together, when a child fears his or her parent the child finds it difficult to relate with the parent which goes a long way in destroying the existing relationship the child has with the parent.
Discipline also termed Correction also helps the child with the aim of helping them see why they should make right choices and actions. A parent who disciplines teaches their child right from wrong, helping them learn life skills.
Ultimately, punishment hurts a child whereas discipline helps a child.
How to Know When Discipline Crosses The Line
Punishment brings about intimidation, intimidation leads to fear; when a child begins to fear his or her parents the child tends to begin to think as a victim while the parent a victimizer.
Below are ways to tell if you are a Victimizer:
- As a parent examine what role your anger is playing while administering your punishment. It is normal for a parent to feel angry, it becomes abnormal if the parents expresses his or her anger rather than the need to correct a wrong.
- When a child tells lies to you as a parent to avoid punishment for any misconduct. The parent discovers the lie and tells the child to run outside for an hour, or starve the child for days. You are crossing the line of discipline. As a parent when you begin to act recklessly for example, a father is enraged at his teenage daughter: As they argue, he picks up a chair and throws it across the room toward the child. His daughter moves, and the chair misses her. While she was not injured, the possibility of an injury was present. Dad acted recklessly in this situation.
- Acting intentionally for example as a parent you found out your money is stolen and you suspect your child without asking question you flog your child stark naked, you put hot pepper in your child private part that is you crossing the line in a dangerous way.
How Then Do I Correct My Child Without Becoming a Victimizer?
The Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana said “In thinking about parenting, it can help to use football as a model, Bronson said when a rule is broken, the whistle is blown and a penalty is announced. Refs do not hit the players, the players generally accept the consequences, and everyone keeps on playing. This implies you do not have to hit a child with an object or with harsh words before you discipline your child.
- Having in mind discipline does not need to be physical. There are many ways to teach children without running the risk of hurting a child. Some examples of non-physical discipline are taking away privileges and time-outs. (Do not starve your child of food).
- Instead of hitting your child so hard, you can set rules and be firm about them.
- Talk to your child often at the same time give your child a listening hear, this will help the parent understand the rationale behind your child’s behaviour.
- Praise/Acknowledge your child when he/she does the right thing.
- Keep your eyes open to know when your child is socially withdrawn most particularly when a family member is around this might be a sign of him/her being abused by that person.
- Do not call your child names
- Love the child. The same hand with which you discipline should be the same hand you hold them close.
As we create Child Abuse Awareness in this month of April, I implore parent to ensure discipline, know when corrective measures tend become abuse and take conscious steps to avoid them.