Most children are both victims and perpetrators of bullying. In many cases, bullying can be traced to discipline received at a very young age. Some forms of discipline have the unintended consequence of teaching bullying skills to small children. A good way to reduce bullying as a cultural phenomenon is to take bullying out of the equation when it comes to discipline.
Examples of Bullying Discipline
• Corporal punishment is a form of bullying because one person uses his or her power to hurt another. Discipline is supposed to teach, not belittle or hurt.
• Humiliating discipline such as forcing a bed-wetter to wear a diaper in front of others or standing a child in a corner in the classroom are forms of psychological bullying.
Motivating a Child With Positive or Logical Discipline
The most effective discipline is a logical consequence that has some relationship to behavior. Logical and positive discipline motivates a child to behave in an appropriate manner and demonstrates the reality that the behavior caused the consequence and not the adult. Computers, cellphones and TV are powerful behavior-management tools for motivating a child to improve behavior.
Examples of Positive and Logical Discipline
• Confiscate the cellphone – Many inappropriate behaviors are encouraged by texting and unlimited contact with peers. Young people with cellphones should give the phone to a parent at night to be returned in the morning on a regular basis. Lack of cooperation would logically result in not receiving the phone in the morning.
• Disconnect Internet – Youth bullying conflicts often begin on social networking sites. Cutting off access can stop an aggressive interaction dead in its tracks.
• Regular positive time with adult family members – If possible, have dinner as a family at a regular time as much as possible with no phone interruption, including parents. This is an opportunity to reinforce healthy eating, good manners and emotional connections. Regular and pleasant interaction with family members will prevent many behavior problems from occurring, which will avoid the need for some discipline.
Children and teens are all different and are entitled to be treated as individuals. Many will respond immediately to positive and logical discipline, and some will need many repetitions. A few may never be able to manage unlimited access to phones and Internet as long as they are minors.