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Disciplining children - Do we need to discipline our children?

Updated on September 11, 2011

Is the lack of discipline the malaise that is plaguing our children today?

Bringing up children is not the easiest of tasks and the subject of disciplining children has had more than its share of controversy. The other day, as I opened the newspaper, the first article that grabbed my attention was that of a sixteen year old girl, who had committed suicide because she had got low grades and flunked her exams. This is neither new or rare news; we hear it all the time. I wonder where we are going wrong. Are we putting too much pressure on our children or are we turning them into delicate darlings who cannot take any pressure? Is something wrong with the way we bring up our children? Is this a problem of disciplining children among other things?

Is disciplining children bad?

I remember the time when everyone used to beat their children with a little switch when they needed to discipline them. Gone are those times when our parents would tell us that we were wrong and correct us with a little physical punishment. Today, schools are forbidden from meeting out corporate punishment, but the worst part is the teachers are not even in a position to correct wrong or bad behaviour. It is difficult to discipline children because you cannot use harsh words or say anything negative about them. I met a teacher recently who told me that she hated to work in a school anymore. She was talking about a student who was behaving in an unacceptable manner with his classmates of the other gender, and when she raised her voice and told him to behave decently she was very plainly asked by the student if she would like to be taken to the press for pressurizing and stressing out her student. Is disciplining a child so bad?

Does disciplining children amount to abuse?

Disciplining children and abuse are different issues. Punishment is not to hurt or harm the child but it is a method of training the child to act in ways that are more advantageous to the child. When a child is trained from a young age to be disciplined, the child learns to handle the pressure of living within the set limits. Discipline calls for consistent and continuous correction. Continuous correction from all elders’ makes it clear to the young child that certain behaviors are not acceptable to all; but correcting intermittently teaches a child to learn to find routes of escape and sends the message that a certain behavior can pass off without being noticed. It may also cause confusion among young children.

Disciplining children whose responsibility?

Schools are afraid of being dragged into lawsuits and so, to keep the peace, they refrain from disciplining the children. The teachers need to bear the brunt of it all. They need to teach a class, show excellent results and maintain discipline without any support from the school administration. Parents are quick to point fingers at teachers and support their children in their battle against teachers. Where are we heading? Are we bringing up a race of hooligans and badly behaved individuals who cannot hold their anger or behave decently in public, who follow no rules and hate any form of discipline? I wonder if we are getting back to the dark ages.

Is lack of discipline is love - can over indulgence amount to love?

Parents work hard to cater to all the needs of the children and go a step further to indulge them with all the material things that they need. Some times, they work so hard that they hardly see their own children. Children today are brought up by soap operas and TV channels and they have little or no parental guidance. Those days of parents teaching their children about values and lessons in life, hardly seem to be the priority any more. (I am not saying everyone is doing this but we seem to be getting there in general)

Parents neither have the time nor the energy to discipline their children. Giving in to the demands of children and pampering them or bribing them even to do their own chores seems to be the order of the day. The fact that children cannot be pressurized to contribute to the functioning of the home by doing their own chores and contributing to the upkeep of the home says a lot about the way in which we bring up our children. They seemed to be so used to a life of ease that they are not able to face even a little pressure. They seem to wither, bend and break under pressure or just rebel against it. Disciplining children should start at a very early age. You do not have to use corporal punishment at all, but no punishment would mean discipline cannot be enforced always.

How to discipline children ?

Even though discipline does seem hard at that time, it always works well in teaching children to live within certain codes and respecting them. Just as adults live by the laws of the land, children need to live by certain values and conform to certain behaviors. Disciplining children is applying a certain amount of pressure on them to mould them into a certain way of living. When they are trained this way, they find it easier to adapt to pressure and live within rules and norms of a school or college or home or later on in work life. Parental indulgence, lack of guidance and looking the other way when the child does what is wrong seems to encourage wrong behaviors in the child.

Having a disciplined life teaches a child principles of time management, social living, being able to cope with pressure, make good use of available resources and yet be able to functioning adequately well within restricted limits and resources. It is when children face more pressure and live a life of ease that they have so much difficulty in handling the stress and strain of adult life. They seem to find it difficult to be in control of their emotions and behavior even in community living because they have never been trained to handle themselves and their emotion adequately. Even a little pressure causes them to break down emotionally, giving in to maladaptive behaviors like substance abuse, suicide and psychological problems like anxiety and depressive disorders or obsessive compulsive behavior.

Questions that needs to be asked on disciplining children

It is worth while to ask ourselves – are we bringing up our children in the right way?Where are making the mistakes? Do we need to discipline our children? How much discipline? There are no hard and fast rules we need to choose what is best and do what is right for our children. Working with teenagers so closely, constantly brings up these questions to the forefront that I thought I will share this with you.

P.S. Written from the perspective of Indian Children and discipline at home and school.

I always love to hear from you...

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    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Prasetio, I am sure you are a dedicated teacher and you appreciate the need for discipline. Without discipline you will have hooligans that disrupt your class and spoil the education of others.. Thanks for the read and the comment, much appreciated.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      This was nice information. As a teacher, I just want to comment that we do need this and applied to children early on. Thanks foe writing this and share with us. Rated up!


    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      I do agree with you, discipline is not always about punishment. When we are strict with children and let them know what is acceptable behavior and what is not..half the battle is won. Consistency, continuity and correction are the three key to disciplining a child. I believe that has helped me grow into a disciplined individual with a set of great values. I have adopted a similar method with my children and they show great results.

      ggenda thanks for the read the sharing and the comment. I truly appreciate your point of view.

    • ggenda profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Excellent topic to write about! You bring up some great points. I think that parents sometimes err on one side or another, either by no discipline whatsoever, or applying punishments that do not correct, but rather alienate their children. "Punishment" and "discipline" are two separate things. We can discipline our children by talking with them about writing and wrong, redirecting them (specifically, toddlers), and by withholding privileges.

      Personally, we choose not to spank. However, we are VERY strict with our children, and find other ways to discipline them. Time outs have worked for us when our kids were toddlers, and we have found many negative consequences for bad behavior that are very effective for our preschoolers. Our main priority is to win our children's hearts - and we do so by guiding them and their behavior, but we also make sure that when we discipline them, we do so in a logical way that connects what they did wrong to what is happening (for example: "We need to leave playgroup and stop playing with our friends, because you are taking toys away.").

      Thanks for writing!

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      HennieN Thank you for the read and the comment. If parents don't discipline who will?? Spot on.. are we shifting the burden to an already overburdened society?? I wish not. :)

      I am glad to find such balanced views here and I appreciate each one of them.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Mohan, Simple and clear logic, I love it. I honestly wish that parents understood this point of view. Discipline is tough, but it is like pruning a plant so that it grows healthier and produces more flowers and fruits. :) I greatly appreciate your wisdom and clarity of thought. Thank you for the comment, it indeed adds much value to the hub.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Wallstickersdecals Thank you for stating your clear opinion. Much appreciated.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Ruby, Lady you have your feet planted in terra firma.. I love the way you ask the question.. A great head on your shoulders :) you rock :)

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @ LINC disciplining children is as you say providing a conducive atmosphere within certain boundaries for growth. Balance is the all important criteria and one size does not fit all..thanks for the comment.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Robert, thanks for raising some pertinent issues. I appreciate your comment and the points they highlight.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Genna, I am glad to see you again. Yes and as always you hit the nail on the head, asking the questions is halfway to solving the problem. Yes, I wish more parents would give a thought to what they are doing with their children. As a counselor this is something that I keep asking parents have you given the matter a thought. Glad that you picked it up. Thank you Genna for your comment, it adds value to the discussion .

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Days leaper, balance is the right word.. we need a balanced approach even in discipline. You have brought up the important aspect of leadership by example, yes our children see through our words and our behavior and action has a stronger impact on them than just words. Thank you for lifting the discussion a notch higher.

      I am so happy to see you back in action. Love and God bless!

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Apostle Jack, though your views may sound harsh to a few, I believe that we need to discipline and train our children in the right path. And yes, for their own good!! Thank you for the sharing.

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Paradise, I am not an advocate of corporal punishment either. I believe punishment is a part of discipline and each child needs to be treated differently. I am more interested in the topic of discipline and its effect on children and what happen when parents fail to take the responsibility of discipling their children. Thank you for sharing your views I appreciate it.

    • HennieN profile image


      8 years ago from South Africa

      Excellent hub. If we do no discipline our children, who will?

      Life is all about choices. Most of these choices are governed by rules/guidelines. Discipline is the art of deciding to either follow or not follow these rules.

      Am I missing something here?

    • sofs profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      I appreciate your views and comments Tim. I am also not greatly interested in corporal punishment, but I am pretty clear that children need discipline. I am glad to have brought my children in a disciplined manner that I do not have to worry so much about them. They are able to handle most of the things independently and confidently.

      Thank you for sharing your views, I appreciate it.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      8 years ago from UK

      Great, thought provoking hub. Earlier today I was talking to a parent who felt 'sorry' for her child and was unsure about where to draw the line between support and challenge. I gently pointed out that all support and no challenge is as bad as all challenge and no support! It's a delicatevline to navigate.. But how else will we ensure the development of morals, ethics, values and benevolence to our future generation without appropriate discussion on behaviours! Voted up.

    • WallStickerDecals profile image


      8 years ago from US

      Yes we really do need to discipline our children, that is the parents role.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      8 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I believe discipline is a must. A child wants it. How else can they feel love? To look the other way when a child is misbehaving is the same as saying, " I don't care what you do. Don't bother me. " Thank you for sharing a really good informative hub.


    • L.I.N.C profile image


      8 years ago from Montreal, Canada

      If you call discipline providing the conducive environment for the healthy growth and development of a child, then call it whatever you like.It is the 'how' that everyone always begs the answer for. To know your child ( and they can be very different children borne from the same gene pool) and to know that they grow up through their emotions and not through learning theory (ie: consequences and timeouts) you are well equipped to discipline your child to reach their human potential. More on this in the hub : Tears - their purpose.


    • profile image

      Robert Veight 

      8 years ago

      sofs, very insightful and raises good questions. Discipline starts with the parents and should be consistent from the beginning. This does not have to include physical discipline, but more about consistent guidelines for their children to follow.

      Kids will naturally learn how to get what they want, and they quickly learn if "NO" doesn't mean "NO." If more parents started from the beginning, and stayed consisten with their discipline, we would not necessarily need to be talking about discipline in the schools.

      This is a topic with many areas of discussion. Good job!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      This is a very thoughtful and intelligent hub, Sofs. To begin to question ourselves on how we raise our children is half the battle, and one that too many parents appear to neglect. I think that if we neglect the questions, we neglect our children. Up and awesome, Sofs -- this is just superb.

    • days leaper profile image

      days leaper 

      8 years ago from england

      I think you've got the main issues of what is wrong with our societ/ies. Is it a universal thing or are you living in UK/US?

      It is true that the right balance of control is needed with children in the classroom, at home and on the streets. I'm not talking cruelty which is not discipline but showing the right example. Which can't be done when strung out on drugs, zombified in front of the TV. or where both parents work so the natural balance of an authorative blood line relative being a constant feature in the childs life. For not just the naughty times which actually may be a sign of a deeper trauma that isn't necessarily uncovered -yet.

      Thanks for your kindness in helping me get writing again. If you don't hear from me for awhile, I'm studying (self study) a computer programming books course... -speaking of needing discipline!!

    • Apostle Jack profile image

      Apostle Jack 

      8 years ago from Atlanta Ga

      If there is no discipline,and guidelines to and for our children.Then our children will have discipline and guidelines to control the parents.

      It is a shame to see parents on the losing end of being the boss in the household.

      Tuff-love should be applied to the matter of guiding and raising children,for their benefit.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      A good hub, it raises the right questions. Me, personally, I don't believe in corporal punishment for a child. That's too violent. Withholding privileges is more the thing, and I think it's more effective.

    • timorous profile image

      Tim Nichol 

      8 years ago from Me to You

      I very much agree with you sofs. Discipline, if it's done in a loving, caring fashion, and not heavy-handed, will help set a child onto a suitable path that allows them to get along with others, and handle various pressures as they go through life.

      It's unfortunate that the powers that be, have seen fit to relinquish their responsibility to set the right standards. Thanks for your thoughtful words.


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