The phrase ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ basically refers to parents who refuse to discipline their child for any wrong doing. This non-consequential approach from parents usually results in an unruly child that is habituated to getting his own way. Such habituated behaviors tends to have a spill-over effect to the child’s growing up years in school and eventually adulthood. The child will demand others around him to indulge in his inappropriate actions and behaviors which is usually unacceptable in any social context. 

When parents constantly indulge in the child’s wrong doing, the child will never have the opportunity to learn what is right or appropriate and be accountable for his own actions. The ability to distinguish right from wrong and understanding consequences of one’s action develops one’s character and morals. The understanding and development of appropriate behaviors, empathy and self-regulation, which all forms the character of a child, are shaped during the pre-school years.

As much as parents love their children, it takes greater love and courage to discipline their children. By discipline, I refer to ‘tough love’ – being firm and yet unconditionally loving. To discipline a child does not necessarily require the use of a rod, literally. It can be as simple as reprimanding the child making sure the child understands his wrong doing and is sincerely apologetic for his behaviors, actions, or words. It can be sending a child to a time-out corner or naughty chair, a spank on the bottom, a slap on the hand. Whatever the chosen method by parents, there are TWO crucial keys.

One is consistent discipline. For any particular wrong doing, the child cannot be disciplined in one instant and not another. This means that even when parents are busy or in a rush. As parents, you will need to somehow find the time and energy to be consistent at all cost or address the wrong doing and say that you will both deal with it at a later time. Parents you need to remember and deal with it later. Do not let it slide. It is as good as a promise made to a child.

Two is to make sure your child understand why he is being disciplined. Children may not always understand why certain behaviors, actions or words are unacceptable or inappropriate. So it is the duty of parents to explain. The most effective way is to firstly reflect to the child what he has done or said. Then explain the consequence/s of his action. After, re-direct your child with an appropriate and positive action or behavior for the same instance. Always make sure that your child understands why he is being disciplined and what are the alternative positive actions for the situation.

Help your child to understand the consequences for actions and you will be helping your child to develop good character in the long term for his future success.