March 27, 2019

Dear Parent, discipline is not hatred by Jite Efemuaye

Dear Parent, discipline is not hatred by Jite Efemuaye

I had just finished having a meal at a small restaurant and was waiting for my change at the counter. Next thing I know someone hits my butt. I turn around and it’s this small boy, about two years old. Without thinking, I grabbed him by the arm and delivered a smack to his bottom.

Now, I am not mad at the kid. I am mad at one of the waitresses (who might be his mother) who was standing nearby and with a disapproving frown said, “Ahn, ahn, o nwa obele now.” He is a small child. I should have smacked her bottom too.

beating kids

I wrote a piece on nine ways to discipline a Nigerian child some time ago, based on my experience growing with a disciplinarian mum and watching other parents. One of the most important things a child needs is instant correction, no matter what your style is: naughty corner, spanking, a talking-to. I did not feel the least bit guilty about smacking that child, I actually felt I should have smacked him harder, although the message seemed to have been passed across because he just stood there, staring in surprise. Whether it was something he was just trying for the first time (which I doubt) or he was a pro at butt slapping, it must have registered in his brain that it’s not something he should do again.

I met another child, in a 14-seater bus, throwing the tantrum of the year. She was kicking, pinching and hitting her father; crying and screaming at the top of her five year old lungs. Everything failed. Giving her sweets, trying to soothe her, telling her to be quiet and sit down. Finally the dad lost his patience and smacked her. Two slaps to the wrist is not going to cure five years of ‘spoiling’.  She carried on like nothing happened. After about an hour she ran out of steam and hiccupped herself to sleep. The tantrum continued after she woke up but that’s another story. All the while I was just grateful I wasn’t the person sitting next to them. Father and daughter would have learnt.

No child is too young to be corrected. You’ll be there singing, ‘she’s just a small child’ and ‘he’s too young to be punished’ and by the time you realize how wrong you are, you have an 18-year-old to whom the word ‘discipline’ means nothing. Then you’ll start invoking the innocent people in the village as the ones winching your child.


The first place a child learns is the home. My mother, God bless her, is loved and respected by all the ‘stubborn’ children in her area. She will flog you, then she’ll feed you and help you with your homework or tell you sorry when you show her a scrap. I remember a little boy crying once because he said ‘Good evening’ to my distracted mother and she forgot to add ‘my darling’ to her response. Still, she’s the one he’s sent to for discipline when he is being naughty.

Being tough is a big part of loving your kids; even when they turn the charm on: big eyes swimming with tears, lips trembling just enough to melt you heart. Just make sure every punishment, every correction, every scolding is coming from a place of love.


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  1. Adenike

    My thoughts, exactly. Train up your child in the way he should grow…I trained my sisters because of the busy schedule of my parents,and whenever we sit down and reminisce. ..The hugs I get is monumental, evergreen.

  2. Lemar

    I understand how important it is to instil discipline, love and compassion in a child. However, I do not understand how it is your prerogative to discipline, worse off, to beat up other people/and even completer stranger’s children in the name of smacking. Please do not come with the excuse of this is Africa and it takes a village to raise a child. Do you help pay the stranger’s child school fees, help with feeding, clothing and shelter bills? How come you can now just pick discipline as you sole mandate? That act is considered bullying actually.

    If by incident or accident, you smack my child for whatever reason, by God, I will smack you too. Children are people too. Do you go about smacking an adult for misbehaving? And we have a lot of misbehaving adults, yet most of those adults were smacked, nay pummelled, by their parents.

    If a child acts inappropriately, you should report to the parent or the child’s supervisor for appropriate disciplinary measures, not taking into your hands and smacking the child. I doubt you have the right to violently correct a child that is not yours. If you choose to do that to your child, sad enough, but not another person’s kid.

    Besides, who gets to decide that a child need to be punished, how can you by one meeting decide a child is spoilt? Self-righteous, judgemental standard is what your article smacks off.

    You go picking holes in people’s parenting style because you are the best parent who has got it entirely right with her kids and turned out right because your mother had the best parenting style in the world?

    1. Mute

      Lemar, my advice is that you make sure you have a tight rein on your child to keep them from straying 100yards away from you when I am around. Because if your child smacks my butt like that child did we may show up at the supreme court.

      I am sure the child obviously learnt it from you smacking your wife’s butt at home.

  3. Tara

    Na so oh. I am greatly afraid for this new mums and dads cos we are breeding a spoilt generation. A generation that thinks everything is theirs for the asking. Some parents go cry wen in future

  4. Moses

    When A child grows and learns to be disciplined, he/she appreciates discipline as well as respect; and when a child grows in a family that does not care about discipline he/she becomes a truant and problem to the society. Discipline to a child growing up is “not an option but a must”.

    Though the child might not appreciate it at that moment, but when fully grown, will leave to be proud as well as thankful for the discipline received at that young age. (Peekay)


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