Discipline, Punishment, and Counseling of Children
To many people, including parents, the words discipline and punishment can be used interchangeably. Effective parents should comprehend the difference between disciplining a child and punishing a child. Discipline involves imposing particular codes of conduct on an individual. When parents instill discipline in their children, they aim at teaching them how to control their behaviors and feelings. Discipline helps children to cultivate self-reliance and encourages them to have self-confidence, as well as a positive self-image (Haley, et. Al, 2010, p. 52). For instance, if a child gets angry and hits his/her brother, he/she should be advised on what to do in case his/her brother has wronged him/her. Discipline allows children to see the consequences of what they have done and learn from them.
On the other hand, punishment involves an intervention to execute a penalty for doing something wrong. Punishment usually focuses on past misdeeds, rather than future correct acts. For instance, when a parent finds a child watching TV instead of doing his/her homework, the child is punished for his/her action, and at the same time is denied a chance of watching TV. When a parent lashes out in anger to correct a child’s mistake, this makes the child accept that yelling and anger are appropriate behaviors (Jones, 2014). Thus, punishment is a sign of frustration. Punishment can be administered through spanking, slapping, ridiculing, withholding rewards, or instilling penalties. Spanking a child will make him/her feel that he/she has already paid for his/her misdemeanors, and has the right to repeat the same misdeeds. Physical punishment does not work always because it makes children think that they are always bad, compelling them to develop an act of deception to avoid punishment.
Parents play a critical role in the development of children’s identity. Children’s identities do not result from personal choices, but from whom they relate with. Children are born with a need to be part of their ethnic culture, regardless of the content of that culture. According to Loue, Sajatovic, and Springer-Verlag (2011), children usually begin to identify themselves with a particular ethnic group when they are between 4 and 7 years of age (p. 645). At the age of 10 years, they begin to realize that ethnicity remains the same throughout. This culture assists children to develop a sense of belongingness. Children should be advised to ignore color differences and focus on creating friendship without regarding their color. In this way, they can be able to appreciate other children’s cultures.
Several studies have proved that negative ethnic identity results from low self-esteem. Parents’ beliefs, as well as expectations, have a strong influence on children’s motivation. Thus, they should direct their children on how to gain social knowledge, as well as a positive attitude towards life. Parents should endeavor to explain to their children that their culture is the best. Children will always develop a positive attitude towards their culture if they are motivated to act according to their ethnic norms. African American parents usually prepare their children on how to encounter backstage racism through developing positive ethnic identities. Black parents encourage their children to develop racial socialization in order to improve their self-esteem, ethnic identities, and higher achievement in education (Smith, Jacobson & Juarez, 2011, p. 76). To survive the pressure of racial discrimination, parents motivate their children to attain higher levels of education, in addition to showing them love and protection. Parents should also advise their children to differentiate what majority and minority concepts purport.
Parents should teach young children about gender roles expectations and family customs that mold their characters. Learning about gender roles will assist in knowing who they are, and what society expects from them. For instance, boys should be encouraged to take leadership roles in their social groups. They should be reminded that they are the head of the family; thus, they should always be bold in fighting for their rights. The predefined expectations that parents have towards their children should compel them to instill a sense of responsibility, coupled with personal ambitions and focus. Part of ethical identity should be molded by encouraging children to concentrate on their educational achievements. Education will assist children in making appropriate decisions in the future, despite structural problems in their cultural settings.
The development of positive ethnic identity among children aged 10 years is fundamental for psychological well-being. This is the stage where children’s attitudes solidify unless they change their environment. Children are likely to adopt particular behaviors, which fit their social groups. Thus, parents should ensure that life lessons to children incorporate positive behaviors that align with their likes. Parents should endeavor to teach their children on accepting other people’s cultures for peaceful coexistence. Children should also be taught survival tactics, and that they should struggle to earn everything through merit. Above all, respect for the elders can help children to boost their self-esteem through interacting with their counselors. Therefore, Children should be encouraged to acquire positive ethnic identities through social interaction with people who they trust.
Haley, J., Stein, W., Dingwell, H., Golden, R. N., & Peterson, F. L. (2010). The truth about abuse. New York, NY: Facts on File.
Jones, D. (2014). Discipline and Punishment Are Not the Same. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved on 9 April 2014 from http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/child-abuse-prevention/discipline-and-punishment-are-not-the-same.cfm
Loue, S., Sajatovic, M., & Springer-Verlag. (2011). Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health. New York: Springer.
Smith, D. T., Jacobson, C. K., & Juárez, B. G. (2011). White parents, black children: Experiencing transracial adoption. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers