Discipline may be the best gift for your children

Friday January 24 2020

Discipline is one of the most important components of your child’s development because it exposes children to a system of values that guides them through life. NET PHOTO

When you allow your children to sleep up to 10am but wake your househelp up at 5am, you are training her and not your children. Spare me that look and listen up.
When you ensure your househelp cleans the house, kitchen, compound and does laundry while your children waste time on computer games, you are training the househelp and leaving your children in the hands of fate.
Growing up, our mum used to “whip us” awake. We would be up at the same time as the househelp.
When it came to house chores, a time table was set for us. Our school, Muhoroni Success Primary, was miles away and the earliest you could get home was after 6:30 pm if you were in lower primary school.
Upper primary school pupils came home much later, sometimes as late as 9pm because they had to go for preps.
You had to complete your chores irrespective of the timings or day of week. If you failed, this resulted in some serious beatings which meant being reported to the school head teacher, Mr George Wesley Abayo. This included cooking, washing uniforms and doing dishes as well as ironing. During holidays, you would think we were in some sort of military training.We woke up at 5am on normal days and the programme needed no explanations: whoever was assigned to do laundry, clean the house, do dishes and prepare breakfast, did so without complaints.

You had to make your bed
Before anything else, you had to make your bed. These days, very few children can make their own beds. They get up and go straight to watch television or ask for breakfast. Even married women cannot make their beds, they rely on the househelps to do so.
During the planting seasons, it was hell. We had shambas where we would leave as a family to the hills of either Fort Tenan, Mariwa and Got Alai.
We would be trained how to identify seedlings, sort them out and plant according to each season.

We planted sweet potatoes, sugarcane, maize or beans. This used to be a long journey and a whole day task. This meant that our lunch for this day was prepared in advance.
We would lament, cry and even utter things like: “When I get to college or have my own house, I will be free from such punishment.”
This programme was well split. Days of visiting grannies both maternal and paternal could not miss during December holidays. It’s where we learnt how to cook using the three stones. Yes, you had to withstand the smoke and pains of fetching firewood.
But these days when you go to the village, it’s the househelp who does this. She is even denied leave days because you dread holidays without her.
Little did we know it was for our own good. Yes, own good. To date, I see my siblings and even some cousins whom we went through this having it easy.
We knew how to prepare ugali while in Class Three. Woe unto you if the ugali was undercooked.

Cooking and other chores
Back to you now, your househelp does all the cooking ...your children do all the eating …when your daughters get married and can’t cook and their marriages have problems, you blame the devil. You start praying, and going to crusades to save their marriages. You don’t want to admit your failure as a parent.
If a teacher reports on an unbecoming behaviour of your child, you start complaining, saying the said teacher is against your child. You proceed to transfer them to another school. Problem not solved, only transferred.
If a neighbour tells you about your child’s unbecoming behaviour, you ask them to stop meddling.
These children cannot be corrected by the househelp too: if she does, she’s sent home for daring to do what you don’t have the courage to.
The truth is that it’s good to have a househelp, but make her the main manager of your home. Many of us have indirectly trained the maid and left our children untrained and undisciplined. Let’s transform our society to what it was back then. Let’s bring up the admirable home and family set up.

Take Away Privileges
At times there isn’t a logical consequence for a bad behaviour, and sometimes you just don’t have the time to think it through.
In such cases, another effective discipline technique for children for unacceptable behaviour is to take away a privilege.
Your child should learn that privileges come with responsibility and he or she needs to earn it. This technique is effective only when it’s used occasionally.
For example, if your child doesn’t complete his or her homework in time, you might take away the privilege of watching television for the day.
Such child discipline techniques work best if the privilege is something the child values, if it’s related in some way to the behaviour, and if it’s taken away as soon as the inappropriate behaviour occurs.
“Your children require you most of all to love them for who they are, not to spend your whole time trying to correct them.” ~ Bill Ayers. Your child will grow and develop trust from you, if he or she feels loved and secure. Effective discipline techniques can help to encourage your child’s trust in you.