It’s a Thin Line: Abuse or Discipline?

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Today’s headlines read like the chapters of horror stories.  Just look at a few recently posted by ABC News:

“3 Year Old Boy Found Dead – Mom Admits to Murder”

“Child Abuse Injuries On The Rise”

 “Father Beating Stepson Caught On Tape”

Every week there’s a new shocking child abuse case in the news.  And all too often, parents are the abusers.  Now I know there are parents out there who are just certifiably insane.  But I wonder if some of the parents who abuse their children start off with intentions of being good parents, but somehow stumble over the thin line between abuse and discipline.

It’s easy to say, “There is no way that I would ever abuse my sweet child!”  But the truth is that our little ones aren’t always sweet, and even the best mamas have a hard time controlling their tempers 100% of the time.  As moms, we’ve all had moments when we’ve had step back and count to ten so that we don’t lose it with our children.  But if we want to make sure that we’re never in the headlines for harming our children, we’ve got to be real with ourselves and make sure that we understand where discipline stops and abuse begins.

The website http://www.livestrong.com/article/115122-child-discipline-vs.-abuse/  has some wonderful tips for helping parents make sure that they are providing loving discipline to their children, and not crossing the line into abuse:

Provide Positive Reinforcement – Modeling the behavior that we want our children to display is the best form of discipline.  For most children, giving positive encouragement when they display the right behavior is incredibly effective.

Think Before You Discipline – When you have to discipline your children (and it will happen). Take a moment to think about the consequences of the discipline.  If it has any potential to bring physical, emotional or psychological harm to your children, choose another method to discipline them.

Know What Abuse Is – As parents we have to remember that abuse isn’t just excessive spankings.  Name calling, being overly critical or neglecting our children’s needs are also forms of abuse.  Let’s educate ourselves to make sure that we don’t make our children or ourselves a statistic in any way.

Deal With Your Issues – Were you abused as a child?  Did you grow up with poor examples of parenting?  Becoming a parent doesn’t erase our past issues.  It’s our responsibility as adults to make sure that we don’t let our issues become issues for our children.  Turning to your local church, a family counselor or the Department of Health and Human Services are great places to start for help.

Every parent knows that their children need discipline.  But even more than that, they need parents who will police themselves and make sure that never cross the thin line.

Mommies, how do you keep yourself from crossing the line when disciplining your kids?

Words by: Yolanda Darville

Yolanda Darville is a mom, writer, communications strategist and blogger focusing on philanthropy and empowering women.  Learn more about her on her blog www.bahamamommyinc.com .

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