Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Mastering Discipline

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Mastering Discipline

Article excerpt


HE SHOUTED "Hey!" in the unmistakable tone of a father who'd just seen his young child get barrelled over by another, much larger, kid.

Every parent waiting in the wings of the "baby water slide" flinched, watched on concerned and chewed on their lips to see how the dad played out his instinctive anger.

His little girl appeared unhurt but he scooped her up, spoke softly to her and she soon broke into tears. Yes, she had been hurt. Her dad bore witness to it and she was given permission to howl in delayed dismay.

There's always a delicate art of diplomacy in the playground, or water park, or anywhere children can run smack into another child, of how one parent handles another person's children.

I can recall that feeling - relatively new to parenting and so very protective - of frustration that someone else's clearly sub-par parenting was impacting my fragile bundle of wonder.

It's no surprise given how many hours I spend per week in a playground, playgroup, kids' gym, etc. And I can watch, with some detachment now, the parents not quite at ease with the unsteady etiquette of reprimanding another's child. I can even dole out some teacher-style lecture for the children - mine and others - when the need arises.

But the "modern world" of parenting is a tricky one. Don't for a second think I would condone anyone smacking someone else's child, but I did begin to realise just how dramatically the landscape of parenting - in particular, discipline - has changed.

I have smacked my children. Now, we're at an age where banned screen time is a much more effective tool, but they were young once. So was I.

I smacked small bottoms when breaking up a fight, and I smacked small hands trying to lose digits in a pedestal fan. It's a scary thing to confess because, it's not a popular position. But I grew up with the cane. Physical discipline was not uncommon to my primary school peers and I.

So, in my measly 30-odd years, we've gone from the cane allowed to be used by teachers to parents not even feeling they can smack their children. …

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