As marches and campaigns are organized around ending rampant violence among youth, it occurred to me that this is an ideal time to remember the opportunities that home and village have to make a difference. As individuals, parents, teachers, neighbors we can contribute to young people’s self-esteem, understanding that violence, at all levels, result from feelings of inferiority or inability to change unwanted circumstances. There are opportunities in the daily actions with youth that opportunities arise to help young people manage their behavior.
**Discipline means to teach appropriate behavior.
**Modeling is the best way to teach appropriate behavior. It is said that children sometimes do what we say but always do what they see us do.
**Obey the law that says, “Wherever you focus your attention, that increases’”. Reward appropriate behavior.
**Whenever there is inappropriate behavior, take time to listen carefully and hear the child’s point of view. What feelings triggered the upset? Feelings should be given room for expression followed by understanding and reassurance. Many adults have discovered that suppressed emotions from childhood gave rise to mental/emotional problems as adults.
**Ignore behavior that is designed to get attention and does not endanger physical well-being or property. Children need attention. If they are not getting it, they will resort to tactics that force adults to pay attention, even if it’s negative, i.e., punishment.
**Take away privileges related to the behavior so that child learns that privileges are the reward for responsible behavior.
**Time –Outs – Child is removed to a quiet space where they can be alone to rethink their actions or to calm down after emotional outbursts. At the end of the time-out, discuss the behavior with the child, explaining the issues you perceive. Be careful to focus on the behavior, not on making the child WRONG.
**Family meetings help members discuss how behavior affects everyone in the family and can provide a safe space for conflicts to be resolved collectively.
**Include the child in developing a plan to solve persistent behavioral problems. Explore all possible causes for the behavior with the child because it is there where solutions will be found. Adults should share problems they had or are currently working on. Explain to the child that problems are simply lessons and when we learn how not to react emotionally, we’ll solve the problem and add it to our list of skills.
** Remember that behavior is a language. Work to understand the need that is being expressed and address the need without getting overwhelmed by the behavior.
**Remember to focus on the behavior, citing the effect on others and child, being careful not on making the child wrong.
It might help to recall times if you were punished at home or school during your childhood. What were your feelings? Did your parents or teacher ask and listen to you? Or were you simply punished?
We’re living in stressful times that have now turned more violent than ever before calling for drastic measures. Our youth are waging war on each other. Their actions are cries for help. It is our duty as elders to come to prevent these wars of self-destruction. I suggest we start with adults learning to accept differences and claim a vision for the children that ensure emotional and physical security at home, community and world at-large. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org, visit The Parents Notebook on Facebook.