“The parenting style and techniques that we adopt are largely influenced by the way we were parented by our parents and grandparents. The traditional, Caribbean approach to discipline and punishment was that there was no difference, it was one of the same and in my early years of parenting, two sides of the same coin. But with exposure to the AFLC’s training I started to modify my own thoughts around discipline versus punishment,” Winston Garcia said.
Discipline versus Punishment was the theme for the second episode of the virtual Children Are Gift (CAG) programme on April 16 in this special Year of the Amoris Laetitia family.
The presenters were Winston and Debbie Garcia, co-authors with the Theodores (Sandra and Earl [dec]) and Bishop Robert Llanos of the Parenting and Family Life manual that is used for the Children Are Gift programme.
Winston shared that, “One of the things I value greatly was growing in a relationship with the children, so they know that I care for them and I love them… I am not a madman to wake up one morning and start beating you just like that. I have learnt that rules without relationship equals rebellion.” Discipline is directed towards the undesirable behaviour while punishment is directed towards the individual. Discipline involves teaching, instruction, and education.
Debbie stated that parenting training helped her to differentiate between discipline and punishment and to utilise many options for disciplining their children, such as instructing them to assist with household chores as well as taking away privileges and devices. “I like plenty options, as an IT person when presenting solutions to a customer, you present options that you can do A, B or C.”
Winston values his relationship with their children and spends time building these relationships by cooking special meals for them and talking to them about expected behaviour for all family members. “I develop a relationship with them, I am on your side; I am with you. I talk and I try to reason with them. Conversation is important.”
Debbie echoed the importance of building relationships with children. She tells their children that they are being disciplined because they (their parents) love them and want them to be better persons, learn appropriate behaviour, and correct misbehaviour.
“After having several challenges with a particular child and taking away the devices was not changing his behaviour as his response was ‘What you going to do, take away the tablet again?’ I said time for a different approach. I invited him to clean the kitchen, prep the ham for baking, make the ponche de crème. It turned out to be a form of discipline, but it was a teaching moment and after that he became interested in helping out in the kitchen.”
CAG states that “Discipline is not something a parent does to the child but something that is done for the child.” Based on their different roles and personalities as mother and father in the family, the responses from the children vary, however it is always about building the relationship and to let the child know that even though you are being disciplined, it doesn’t mean that I love you less. In fact, the Scripture says that the Lord will discipline those whom He loves.
Spanking is proven to be the least effective method of discipline because it does not teach good behaviour or generate moral virtues. While it punishes bad behaviour, it teaches children that striking someone is acceptable behaviour for adults. If parents choose to spank their children, parents should be calm at that time or spanking should be delayed.
Debbie shared, “Recently, I remember during class time one of the children was on YouTube. I went ballistic! I had to resist the voice in my head that was saying spank him on camera. I remember saying to myself, ‘Debbie, do not shame because you cannot erase that, and that shame will bring more harm than good’. Sometimes we think if we shame the child, he will learn the lesson. However, we have to be mindful of what lessons we want our children to learn. Be mindful if you are spanking not to shame the child.”
Shaming the child should also be avoided as it is more harmful than beneficial.
Persons are invited to check out the AFLC on Instagram, Facebook and AFLC’s website, aflcrc.org. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call/WhatsApp 299-1047 to register for the Children Are Gift online programme.