When am away, she puts on makeup and stays pretty, or microwaves yoghurt to see what will happen. Once in a while she mixes juices with sodas and makes a mess in the kitchen. One day she allowed her friends in school to undo her hair, then they tried plaiting her, she arrived home looking like a scarecrow! Then I discovered chewed gum stuck under her bed! Children can drive you crazy!

However, her mischief is better than mine, I used to steal sugar, and boil flour (homemade snacks), and sometimes I would use a matchbox, play in the rain, or put on clothes that were meant for Sunday! Once in a while I would go play till late, or visit homes I was forbidden to. (I started taking risks early in life)

We are often told, ‘When a child disobeys, they should be punished! ‘. This is easier said than done because some of them look so cute even in the mess. I was beaten up and denied privileges, for making noise while my mum was taking her Sunday afternoon nap. So, I know a bit about ‘consequences for every choice I make’. During my childhood, there was no discussion on punishment; there was no second thought. Even neighbours and relatives were allowed to punish you!  I never understood why it had to be so serious, until I got my own baby.

I used to get so mad when she disobeys me, yell at her, and beat her, look at her, start apologizing and offer gifts, to make her smile again. Guess what? She would repeat the mistake! And the process would go on and on. Then there are those times, I beat her up and she doesn’t seem to feel it. She doesn’t cry or even show any sign that it’s painful, and I would increase my effort, only to realize that I may be going too far.

She enjoyed this until I learnt, ‘never apologize for punishing,’ and ‘don’t negotiate’. I tell you, life has never been better, things are done in the right way, and when she breaks a rule she approaches me with fear and trembling. (Well, not really, but there is some remorse). We have rules that should not be broken under any circumstances.  Once broken, I explain why, and go ahead to punish her.  I am still learning not to blink my eye when it comes to punishment.

Then there are those who take this punishment too far, burning them and beating them up like animals, landing them in hospitals. Hey, it’s not worth it. Punish with love and understanding. The lesson is more important than the pain you inflict.

Punishment plays a big role in discipline. Most of us have turned out well because there were restrictions when we were young.  ‘Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.’ Prov 23:13

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