Discipline or Abuse?

There are some key differences between disciplining a child and child abuse. In physical abuse the following elements are present:

  • Unpredictability. The child can never tell what will set the parent off. Rules and boundaries aren’t clear, or keep changing. The child is constantly walking on eggshells, never sure what behavior will trigger a physical assault.
  • Lashing out in anger. Parents who act out of anger and the desire to assert control instead of the motivation to lovingly teach the child are abusive. The angrier the parent, the more intense the abuse.
  • Using fear to control behavior. Some parents think that their children need to fear them in order to be “kept in line.” But what making children afraid really teaches a child is how to avoid being hit, not how to behave or grow as individuals.

You may feel regretful about some of your behavior toward your child, but really sure that greater discipline is needed and you just aren’t clear what else to do. That’s not an uncommon or abnormal experience, but it is a feeling you need to listen to… and learn how to do better. Here are some good resources to get you started:

Disciplining Your Child
Parents, Kids, and Discipline
Disciplining Big Kids

 

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