'Meeting a child's basic needs drastically reduces the need to discipline'

Whether you agree or not, it is now illegal to spank your child.

On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court upheld a high court ruling that declares the common law defence of reasonable parental chastisement of children, unconstitutional.

RELATED: Here are proposed steps to be taken when parents reported for spanking

702's Refiloe Mpakanyane continues the national conversation sparked by the ruling, getting the input of Nikki Bush.

The parenting expert differentiates between a smack and a beating.

There's this big distinction between a short, sharp smack when your child is putting his finger in an electrical socket or running across a busy road and actually beating your child with a slipper or a belt.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

Be that as it may, Bush emphasizes the need to teach children about setting boundaries and controlling their emotions.

If parents always resort to corporal punishment to control their offspring, it leads to developing what she terms an external locus of control rather than the desired internal one.

The aim of parenting is to bring up self-disciplined children who know the difference between right and wrong and making good and bad decisions.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

This begins with a very positive parenting strategy around boundary setting rather than a reactive one.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

One trick parents should never forget is the power of distraction, for example if a child keeps going back to a plug point or engages in attention-seeking behaviour in a public place like a restaurant.

She says conscious parenting involves showing up and leading by example, even if you are tired.

We have to distract them sometimes from what we don't want them to get into.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

Children are actually quite basic and I think we tie ourselves up in knots around discipline.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

Children get tired, they get hungry, they get thirsty, they get bored and they're often in need of our attention, particularly because we all work and we're busy and we're spending far less time with our children.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

As a result, says Bush, parents sometimes discipline without context and without checking on these basic needs.

If you can tick those unmet basic need boxes, the need to discipline drops by 80-90%.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

Reading that need better, often means that children won't get to the point of throwing a tantrum, of being cheeky, of crying because they need your attention.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

Bush says the word "punishment" needs to be replaced with the term "management". This implies that both children and parents need to learn how to manage their feelings and behaviour, in other words - self-control and self-discipline.

Children need to learn about the consequences of their choices. This is about giving children a clear choice and helping them take responsibility for that choice, so pre-empting and being calm.

Nikki Bush, Parenting expert

For tips and examples of how to implement this parenting strategy, click on the link below:


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