What I saw on the front page of The Star today was horrifying, although am not totally surprised that things like this happen on a daily basis. A single mother, who has been raising this 5-year old boy, has been venting the steam off on the latter.
While I agree that kids need to be taught discipline as they grow up (as it would be tougher to make kids toe-the-line when they are much older), the use of physical force should, in my opinion, only be administered as a last resort, only to serve as reminders, and not to physically stop them in their tracks. Kids also should not be used (or in this context, abused) by parents to vent off steam. If parents who think that it is okay to abuse their children, please continue to do so until they attain the age of 18-20. Either you would be lucky to get away with it unscathed or uninjured, or you may never see them again. It is the emotional scars that will keep hurting the child. As a result, you, as the parent, will live to die alone and unattended, and/or unloved by your own children.
I started disciplining my children the moment they learnt how to walk. Whenever they touch something they are not supposed to, I would gently rap or pinch their hands and tell them not to touch things. This is to teach them not to touch things, especially in other people’s home, and not to take things that are not theirs. Once conditioned, they will never go around touching things. As they grow older, I use reasoning, in the simplest of ways initially, and guide them with reasons when they are able to think and analyse better. When I scold them, I let them be, sideline them for a while (usually overnight if it is in the evening) so that the lessons would sink in, before I allow them to see that I am already soft towards them.
The next step would be the two warnings, followed by a final warning. Hard-headed attitudes get harder corrective measures that are almost always instantly effective – a quick isolation in a dark room or toilet would usually do the job. I have only used my belt on my eldest daughter when she was 13 for going out after school without informing anyone prior; and my second daughter also when she was 13, when she played truant and went to a shopping mall with her classmates. Only two days later would I explain to them the possible repercussions of their actions. I have never used any other methods on them, or use them to vent off steam – even when I was having problems with my ex-wife. During those days, I was more open towards my children as I was the only parent they would see on a daily basis, the only one who would show them love.
If you have problems, and you need to vent out your anger, go kick a ball or go to a karaoke joint. If else fails, go punch a wall or kick a roman column as hard as you could. Don’t hit your children when they have done nothing wrong to you. Go seek psychiatric help!
Children are God’s gift to us, giving us the responsibility to nurture and guide and love them. They never asked to be born into this society where hate comes free. We, as parents, should be the one to guide them and prepare them for the real world. When they are in trouble, they want us, the parents, to be there for them, to help them back onto their own two feet. You cannot demand respect from them, you must earn and command that respect. You cannot set standards that they should follow, instead guide them to do what they want to do, and support them.
There is a saying in Malay: “Anak itu rezeki” (loosely translated as “your child is your livelihood”), and I firmly believe in that. If you show your love to the children, plus the invaluable guidance that you have given them, they will come back to you, and shower you with love, and care for you when you are older.
I was on the verge of tears, reading about the boy who’s been abused since he was two, and seeing his pictures; with his lower jaw almost devoid of teeth, his upper jaw showing chipped teeth, swollen and cut lips, scars on the head and almost all over the body, he could still muster a smile at the camera saying:
“Saya sayang mak tapi mak pukul, mak pukul rotan besar (I love my mother, but she beats me. She beats me with a big cane)”
Such a big heart he has for his monster-of-a-mother.