Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Disciplining Kids - Mums VS Dads

Disciplining kids is something many consider is a job for both parents. But even at that some say mothers do it better whilst others argue that disciplining from fathers are more effective. Below are their arguments.

A popular line almost everyone is familiar with is "Spear the rod and spoil the child". But whose responsibility is it, really, to discipline the child or is it a task parents should undertake together?

In many homes, parents disagree on the issue of disciplining with regards to methods and frequency. Mr. Lawrence Ikuzu said any child who spilled a glass of water or tries to negotiate a later bedtime already knows that there is a difference in his/her parents' styles of discipline.

"In my family when we just started," Ikuzu said, "I was usually quicker to yell or to forgive and was more sensitive to appearances and appropriateness. My wife took on another approach by being focused on results. It took a long while for me to notice what she was doing and how she tried to create a discipline system in the family without us both quarrelling and without our sending conflicting messages to our kids. I learnt then how beneficial it is for a child to see his parents reach a decision/compromise concerning him."

In some family situations parents' views on changing their children's behaviour could be sometimes complex; so much so that their disciplinary methods end up bringing more problems rather than resolving the situation.

Mrs. Ola Soji explains that, "If a child has a father who is lenient and with whom he gets his way but whose mother is strict, the information he receives could be conflicting as to what is expected of him and the repercussion of his behaviours.

Soji added that these basic disagreements can cause difficulties that go far beyond the consequences of the child's simple offences.

The psychology and education specialist said that parents who differ in disciplining are more likely to have children with behavioral problems than families where parents agree on disciplinary styles.

The nursery/primary school teacher in her nineteen years in the profession has seen that toddlers 'are the most manipulative set of individuals' and can really put one to the test. "They try you for size as they keenly observe your reactions and then process in their heads what works for you and for them.

"The good thing is that those limits you insist on may temporarily upset them, but knowing how predictable they are, you have an edge over them," she concluded.

Emeka Nwefoh, a psychiatrist, said when parents disagree on disciplinary measures, it leads to a lot of stress and indecisiveness on the part of the child due to the conflict of information he/she receives. It is always a problem when one parent insists on not punishing the child for wrongdoing and the other says, 'spear the rod and spoil the child'.

"Where parents still cannot agree on such a measure the child is likely to lean to the more lenient parent; this may create a certain distance between him/her and the other parent and cause strain in the family. The other parent may then be more forceful and severe in his/her disciplinary techniques.

Adverse effects of a child brought up in such situations he said, include cases of mental disorder like depression, anxiety and low self esteem amongst others. "Many of them grow with this to adulthood and feel inadequate to raise their own children or even maintain a relationship."

Nwefoh advises that the best way to go to avoid such situations is to look for other forms of punishment that are not physical or verbal. "This is what child advocates preach. You can use measures like 'timeout' where you send them off to bed early. You can also deny them some pleasures like watching television programmes they love, refusing them to play favourite sports/games and denying them money for luxuries. There should be a set time frame for which the child serves this punishment and shouldn't go against the fundamental rights of the child.

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