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Discipline is still needed

By Nathan Rice

The basketball hoop at the gym had been lowered to allow the kids a better chance to make a basket. Ten feet high was a little too much for the younger ones who were shooting hoops. I monitored the game when I noticed Steven hanging from the rim after channeling his inner Lebron James and dunking the ball.

I walked over to Steven and reminded him of the rule that had already been explained. “There’s no hanging from the rim.” He acknowledged the rule and continued to play. A few minutes later, he was swinging from the rim once again. I called him to the side this time, and I reinforced that hanging from the rim was not allowed. It could damage the hoop, and, while unlikely, it could cause the entire basketball goal to fall, causing serious injuries to himself or others. I warned him that hanging from the rim again would result in him sitting out of the fun for a period of time.

It didn’t take long before he was, once again, swinging from the rim. This time I was there when his feet hit the ground. I pointed to the wall of the gym and said, “Go sit against the wall.” He looked and sounded genuinely confused as he looked at me and said, “But I don’t want to.” I replied, “I told you several times that you’re not allowed to hang from the rim, but you did it again. Now go. Sit.”

He walked over to the wall and sat down, but he still seemed genuinely confused. He wasn’t surprised by the rule; he was surprised by the consequence of breaking the rule.

Discipline has almost become a dirty word in today’s culture of raising children and is often viewed as unneeded or inappropriate. The truth, however, is that children need discipline.

Part of the need for discipline is to provide a negative consequence to an action that could create a serious problem for the child. Once they know it’s not allowed, punishing a child for playing in a busy street isn’t cruel. It is loving. Giving a light, unpleasant consequence motivates them not to break the rule of playing on a busy street again and can save them from the severe injuries of getting hit by a car.

Likewise, discipline should be used to teach children the need to respect parents, teachers and other adults in authority. Children who are allowed to disrespect their parents, teachers and others without consequence will have a hard time respecting bosses at work and others in authority in the adult world.

Choosing not to discipline children does them a great disservice and sets them up for trouble in adulthood. A lack of discipline creates problems for them now and in the future. Too many children are growing up without consequences for misbehavior. Today, we are witnessing many young adults mimic the confusion of the young man I had sit against the wall whenever they get in trouble or reap the consequences of their actions.

We must return to the realization that discipline, when done correctly, is not abuse. It is a needed element of raising children, and it is ultimately for their good.

 

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.