Perhaps we can discuss it, Sgt Major?

Recently, GMTV had a discussion about discipline – in schools and in the home.  To discuss the subject the guest on the sofa was, apparently, a parenting writer and there was the usual input from viewers.  The guest suggested that parents should explain to children the reason for any demands or requests and agreed with viewers’ comments that there is a place for negotiation.  Remember this was a discussion about discipline!

I wondered how it might work on the parade ground at Catterick.

“Well, Sgt major, perhaps if you explained the reason behind your suggestion that I stand bolt upright and lift this heavy rifle thingy on to my shoulder, I might think about it.” or “Don’t wanna do press-ups, I’m tired.”  Can you hear the sgt major saying “Just do five then.”?

I think we may have discovered the reason why there is a lack of discipline and respect for all sorts of authority.  Negotiation? Reasoning? Explanation? – how do these fit in with discipline?  They may be perfectly valid things to do, by way of educating children about life, responsibility and the ways of the world, but they are nothing to do with discipline.

Give a child (almost any age) two good reasons why they should do something, I’ll bet they will come up with two others why they should not.  In the end it’s ‘because I said so’.  Doing things when they are told, because they are told – that’s discipline – and it starts straight away, at the ‘cute’ stage (whenever that was), not when they get candles on the birthday cake.

Of all the questioning words – how, why, what, when, who – the first one kids get to know is ‘why’, as in ” Why should I?” or simply “Why?”.  Children under the age of consent should not be made aware of the word ‘why’.  They should be taught only ‘how’ and ‘when’, as in “How high do you want me to jump?” and “When do you want me to do that?”.