A while ago, my wife told me a rather interesting thing. She had broken my Ironman hand by accident and the last finger was detached (see picture below). My 4 year-old niece was also at home at that time and had found an interest in spending time with my wife like BFFs do.
So that afternoon, my wife whispered to my niece, “Tell you a secret okay? Shen Shen (aunty) accidentally broke Shu Shu’s (uncle) toy.”
My niece, with an amused smile, said, “I also broke Shu Shu’s robot last time.”
“Oh? You also? Did Shu Shu scold you?”
“No he never, he just laughed and said nevermind. Did Shu Shu laugh when you told him you break his toy?”
“I think so. But he also say nevermind.”
After having a good laugh, I realised that this was something to note – a child remembers.
My niece was only 2 years old when she dramatically dropped my vintage (keyword: vintage) toy robot. The crackling metallic sound rubbing across the bedroom floor was enough to make my heart stop. She wasn’t actually trying to be mischievous or playful but instead, just wanted to pass it to me for some reason. I remember still being furious and severely heart-broken by the dent on the side of my metalllic robot then, and felt indignant because I had already specifically told her that it was ok to leave the robot alone and not pass it to me. But I managed to force out a laugh, more so out of awkward discomfort then out of glee. And that was all that I could remember about the incident.
Fast forward 2 years later, and she’s having a conversation with my wife about something that happened when she was barely a toddler. Imagine if I had been an uncontrollable hulk about it.
A child remembers, and that’s why it’s important to always watch our emotions and what we say when speaking to them, especially when it comes to discipline. At least that’s what I’m getting from this experience as a ‘note-to-self’.
Heck, it’s important to watch our emotions, period, because the effect we have on others is most times underrated.
So here’s me putting it out there, as a promise and a reminder to myself, to never discipline a child when I still feel anger in me. Take some time, cool off, and then firmly speak to the child. Spank if necessary I guess, but never when I’m still dealing with my own emotions. Easier said then done of course, but now I have a dented robot as a reminder.