The Gandhian Approach – The Non Violent Way to Discipline your Child!

Aparna Samuel Balasundaram is a USA- Licensed Psychotherapist and Parent and Child Expert with 10 years of experience in the USA. She is the Founder of Life Skills Experts and the Life Skills 360¡ System that enables parents and teachers to raise happy, confident and successful children. for more information.


Am sure that as each of us look back into our childhood we can share a story or two of how we were punished by our parents or teachers…many of us remember that chalk piece that came flying at us, the duster that was thrown, the knuckle and the scale method, the slap on the face and the list goes on! When I work with parents many say that while they were not emotionally traumatised by these experiences, they would NOT like the same treatment meted out to their children. Yet, many of them fall into the same trap that their teachers or parents fell into! The  intentions may be good but since we don’t know better we fall back on old patterns. Many parents have confessed that when they hit their child they feel guilty and often try to make up by indulging their child with expensive toys, candies or gadgets and this only leaves the child feeling more confused.

Parents, help is on its way! Here are three tried and tested methods of disciplining your child, without you needing to scream, hit or getting your blood pressure up! I like to call it the ‘Gandhian Approach!’

Let them face the ‘Natural Consequences’ -These are the times when you let your child see what will happen if he does not behave (as long as it does not place him in any danger). For example, if your toddler keeps throwing her toys on purpose, she will soon learn that these toys break; or when your teenager refuses to put his clothes in the basket for a wash, he will soon learn that he has run out of clean shirts to wear! When you use this method, don’t give in and rescue your child (by buying new toys for your toddler or picking up your teenagers clothes for wash). Your child will learn best when they face the natural consequence of their behaviour be it broken toys or dirty clothes!

Time-Out- This is a technique that works well when a specific rule has been broken. It works best for children from 3 to 6 years of age. In this technique you send your child to a corner or any other quiet place, as a ‘Time Out’ to give your child time to think about their behaviour, what they have done wrong and what they can change. A rule of thumb is 1 minute of time-out for every year of your child’s age (for example, a 4-year-old would get a 4-minute time-out). Once your child is ready to apologize or  talk let them out of time out [even if it is before 4 minutes].When the time is up, do not lecture or ask for apologies. Talk to your child and discuss the behaviour and set a plan for how this should not happen again. At times like these, I especially encourage parents to remind their children that they love them, and that it is their behaviour and not them, that is the problem.

Withholding Privileges- This technique works best for older children and your teenagers. In this technique your child learns that they ‘earn’ a privilege when they are responsible about what is  expected of them, be it finishing their homework, studying for an exam or keeping their room clean. A privilege that is valued by the child, such as watching television, ‘face booking’ or  playing video games, should be removed for an agreed upon time [for example the weekend or a week], if the child does not keep their end of the bargain!

So, go ahead parents try these techniques, be patient and do not give into the temptation of falling back into old patterns! You will see the stress and decibel levels reduce at your homes! Happy Parenting!

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.