Disciplining children is a very important aspect of parenting. As a parent we need to set ground rules that will help teach our children that there are socially acceptable norms of behaviour. Discipline also helps our children in their development process and helps them become responsible adults. Disciplining a child also helps him understand that he needs to make the best and right choices in his life.
Most first time parents worry constantly about disciplining their children and most of the time they believe that how their child behaves is a reflection on them. As such, only children or firstborns are often held to a very high standard. Their behaviour is always kept in check and parents are quick to discipline them if they behave in any other way than what is normally expected.
We asked a few second time mums to give us their thoughts on discipline and what they felt as changes to their disciplinary system now that they’ve had Number 2. The discussion was very enlightening!
One Mum first jokingly said that disciplining is so much harder now that there are two. Things that she was so very particular about when just having Number 1 is now not considered not that important as managing and disciplining two is a rather tiring job! I do see this often with parents who have more than one child. They are slightly more relaxed in their parenting style. This is of course a generalisation but most times, their parenting style is less controlled and more relaxed.
Another mum said that she finds that with her Number 1, she always expected more and somehow held Number 1 to a higher ideal. Now that she has Number 2, she has something to compare too and realises how actually small they are. Both her children are under 10 and she said that when her Number 1 was 6 years she’d expect him to do something which she now understands as being completely too strict. It is only now that she had Number 2, she realises that we as parents expect our little ones to act much older than they actually are.
What the earlier Mum said was reiterated by another Mum. The manner in which this Mum gave her experience was slightly different but invariable you can see that it meant more or less the same. This mum said that she often hears her Number 1 telling her that Number 2 gets away with things that she herself wasn’t able to when she was younger.
Speaking to these parents I understood that we as parents need to acknowledge that our little children are actually very small even though sometimes they seem much older than they are. We sometimes say some things like “But he’s already 8 years old, why can’t he remember to bring his drink bottle from school?” and that’s true, he is only 8 years old. That doesn’t make him a teenager! Eight years is eight years and he is doing what an average child his age does. So while we acknowledge that discipline is in fact very important to help kids remain safe, act responsible and know right from wrong, when you do discipline your child, discipline him according to his age.