Spare the rod, spoil the child

Avinash Gaur

Avinash Gaur passed out from St. Xaviers, Jaipur in 1961. He graduated in Chemical Engineering from Banaras Hindu University in 1967 and completed his post graduation in the same subject from University of Washington, Seattle, USA in 1970. After 37 years of service in private industry, Avinash retired as Whole Time Director in 2004.

Never a day passes by when one does not hear about road accidents. A large number of them involve two wheelers driven by youngsters. More often than not they are not wearing safety helmets. Even if they do, they are not securely strapped. This, in my opinion, is due to lack of discipline.

Discipline is needed to be ingrained both at school by teachers and at home by parents. Over the years, I find that the attitude towards disciplining children has changed. Teachers are afraid to discipline their students for fear of action that may be taken against them by the school management or complaints lodged by the parents themselves.

On th other hand parents are unable to enforce discipline at home due to a) lack of time to pay attention b) lack of self discipline on their own part c) scared of the repercussions (child may become rebellious) d) lack of patience.

In the words of Nicole Ari Parker "Raising children uses every bit of your being - your heart, your time, your patience, your foresight, your intuition to protect them, and you have to use all this while trying to figure out how to discipline them."

It is the mother who has to bear the major responsibility to ensure that the child is disciplined. I remember an incident when I was 7 ~ 8 years old.

In my school, there used to be a ten minute break after every two periods of 40 minutes duration each. Being fond of playing marbles, I would rush out to the playground so that I would be able to play for a longer time.

On one occasion, I rushed down the stairs jumping 2 ~ 3 steps at a time. As luck would have it Father Cosgrove, my class teacher happened to be standing at the bottom of the stairs. He immediately caught hold of my hand. He told me in no uncertain terms that if I rush down the stairs in such a way then one day I may fall and lose my teeth.

What followed was a whack on my behind. He asked me to go up the stairs again and come down taking one step at a time. I went home and did not report the incident to my mother. I was sure that she being a strict disciplinarian herself would not take my side. On the other hand, she may give a couple more whacks on my behind that were aching from the first one.

Till date I do not remember ever to have skipped steps again while climbing or coming down the stairs. I had learnt to be disciplined by a single whack!

Another trait that one observes in youngsters these days is the lack of patience. One can find them jumping the red light at the traffic junctions or breaking the queue whether be it for buying a ticket or getting into the bus/train or even while waiting to see the doctor.

I believe that Schools can play an important role in developing the habit of being patient and disciplined. I remember when we were young we used to be impatient in the classroom. If we knew the answer to a question one would jump up from the seat to catch the eye of the teacher. Even when the bell rang for the recess all of us would at once rush to the door to go out.

However, we had one teacher, Mr. Lobo. He came up with a brilliant idea to control our over enthusiasm. Unlike today our school bag used to have shoulder strap. Moreover, the bags used to be heavy in those days also. So, what Mr. Lobo did was that while being seated he asked us to put the bag around our waist with the heavy part hanging behind the backrest of our chair. What it did was that if we tried to get up we could not and even if we did the chair would lift along with us. After a couple of weeks the practice was discontinued because we had learnt to be patient and disciplined.

There are some other issues parents/teachers feel more strongly about than those regarding the discipline and punishment of the child.

Discipline is the process of teaching a child the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Punishment is one technique of discipline. It may be physical - a spank or slap; or psychological - disapproval, isolation from others, or withdrawal of privileges. The goal of punishment should be to inhibit unacceptable behaviour.

Did I spare the rod as a parent? Let my children answer that!

Finally I believe:

"Without discipline, there is no life at all." — Katherine Hepburn


I remember Fr. Cosgrove, also known as Cossie, and Mr. Lobo.

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