Positive parenting key to disciplining children

Parents are not allowed to spank their children following a ruling by the Constitutional Court

Kraaifontein parents have been learning new ways to discipline their children that don’t involve hitting them.

A Constitutional Court ruling last month makes it illegal to spank children. A parent accused of assaulting their child could previously rely on the “reasonable chastisement” defence, but the unanimous ConCourt judgment found that defence unconstitutional.

The Parents Centre, a non-profit organisation based in Wynberg, held a seven-week-long “positive parenting” course at the Scottsdene recreational hall in Eoan Avenue, and last Friday the 15 parents in the programme received certificates for completing their training.

The centre’s Berenice Scott said the parents had learnt how to understand children’s behaviour and how to respond to difficult parenting situations.

She advocates giving a child a hearing instead of a hiding to understand what is at the root of problem behaviour.

“Giving your child a hearing is the best thing you can do as a parent. Usually we don’t listen to our kids and think we are always right. But it isn’t impossible to learn from those who are younger than us.”

One of the techniques the participants learnt was the “robot skill”: stop, think and then respond.

Megan Jacobs said she had seen positive effects using the robot skill. Isabel Saim said the training had helped her become a “respectful parent”, and Andre Zeele said he was ready to be the best possible father to his children so they could, in turn, model the same behaviour for their children.

A new course will start at the hall on Tuesday October 8, and run every second Tuesday, from 11am to 1pm.