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Stabroek News

Do it differently - Discipline with love
published: Sunday | April 22, 2007

Are we abusing our children, leaving permanent scars on their bodies and in their minds?

Rochelle Davis, M.Sc., clinical psychologist and associate counsellor at Family Life Ministries, states that, based on her experiences in clinical work, children are frequently brutalised by their parents or relatives.

"There are instances of extreme cruelty and savageness, such as tying their children to trees, using boiling water to burn them, using cigarettes and lighters to burn their children whenever they behave in unacceptable ways."

Such savage treatment, she says, is often intended to punish them for "telling small lies, smoking ganja or general misbehaviour."

But such treatment, she states, in addition to scarring their bodies, often results in chronic unacceptable behaviours, such as stealing, truancy and arson.

The brutality is often a manifestation of the parents' own severe personality issues, their inability to control their impulses, as well as bad disciplinary practices.

"Based on Jamaican's colonial past, brutality was used as the common way of punishment. This is at odds with proper disciplinary practices," Davis notes.

She states that discipline is understood as a specific type of training that produces a particular type of behaviour. This involves mental, physical, moral/spiritual training.

Discipline, the psychologist states, is not necessarily coercive, but involves cooperation between the parent and the child, which speaks to what is acceptable behaviour, or not. This behaviour has to be understood in the context of the family and the society.

To stem the tide of abuse, Davis suggests that Behaviour Parent Training is an option. This involves the training of the parents so the child's behaviour would eventually become what they desire. This would also include the development of reward systems for good behaviour.

Parents, she states, should:

Have clear and concise communication with their children.

Develop a close and safe relationship with their children

Use verbal affirmations when their children do something positive.

If as parents or relatives there are instances of child abuse on your part, seek immediate professional help.

Information provided by Rochelle Davis, M.Sc., clinical psychologist, associate counsellor at Family Life Ministries. Email shellyrocd@yahoo.com

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