Best way to discipline a child without yelling

An angry father scolding his son.


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What you need to know:

  • We modern parents are advised to have a dialogue with our children instead of castigating them.
  • I have many more in my quiet-but-effective discipline arsenal, but since my word count is limited, I will leave it at that.

“Mum, nini?” My two-and-some-months-year-old protested when I gave him “the look.” It was the first time he was reacting to one of my many legendary looks, and it told me that my youngest, my retirement child, had finally come of age in terms of deciphering my non-verbal cues. I have never felt such a sense of accomplishment.

At the time of the admonition, he was precariously balanced on an arm chair, gleefully switching the light on and off. I had, on two occasions, told him to stop playing with the switch, but clearly, it had fallen on deaf ears. It was therefore time to switch to a higher gear.

I responded to his “Mum, nini?” with another piercing glance and he quickly clambered off the seat and went in search of a different kind of mischief.

We modern parents are advised to have a dialogue with our children instead of castigating them, to reason with them and softly explain to them the decisions we make rather than tell them or order them, and to certainly refrain from using terms such as “because I told you so…” We’re told that we cannot afford to discipline our children the way we were disciplined by our parents and the whole village at large because the world is very different from what it was, say, a decade ago.

Strange world

It’s true, it’s a strange world we’re living in, at least that is how our generation sees it. In our time there was no cellphone and the word internet, which has ushered a whole new, sometimes scary world into our homes.

Some argue that today’s child is fragile, and therefore needs to be handled with care, that we cannot afford to rattle him – recently, I heard a story of a 15-year-old who hang himself after his mother forbade him from continuing with a romantic relationship he had with a classmate.

It’s true that the world has changed markedly, what, with Covid-19 now in the picture.

In spite of the new parenting ways we have to embrace though, I still believe that there is room for the old ways of parenting, the tried and tested ways that have never ceased to yield results, including that glance our mothers sent our way when we erred or exhibited bratty behaviour, and which communicated volumes, much more than words could express.

I have a variety of glances reserved for a variety of bad behaviour, for instance, I have one that says, “stop watching cartoon and finish up your food,” another that says, “You had better put on your sweater right now…” another asking, “I just told you to switch off the TV, what are you doing still seated there?” Another that screams, “Did you just do that?!” and yet another that warns, “Let me catch you doing that again…” and how can the recipients forget the one that promises, “Dare you repeat that again…” and “Wacha nirudi…”

I have many more in my quiet-but-effective discipline arsenal, but since my word count is limited, I will leave it at that.

These glances, I believe, are God-given, and that every mother should whole-heartedly embrace them and generously and readily use them to their advantage.

To begin with, they save you the energy you would use admonishing your children verbally, and since there is no shouting involved, the home is more peaceful. If you haven’t tried it, please do, I assure you its foolproof. You can thank me later.

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