Viewpoint: Parents need to get tough and discipline children

By Linda Wilkins

I’m not a parent. I don’t claim to know the pressures of being a parent. I was, however, raised by two stunning parents. I was and still am very fortunate to have their guidance in my life.

There’s a problem nowadays with society. I walk down the street and see a screaming child. He or she is upset and wants to go to the toy store now or wants food now. Occasionally, I’ll see the child smack his or her parent when things don’t go the child’s way.

In that moment, all I can think is, “Wow.” The parent begs the child to calm down and attempts to bargain with them.

“I’ll get you a Happy Meal if you stop crying,” the parent pleads.

Please, that’s not teaching your kid anything except that you’re a push-over. There’s no discipline in this kind of relationship.

A child starts learning from day one. Kids have their behavior pattern pretty much set by age 6. After that, it takes a whole lot of elbow grease to change them.

If you teach them that all they have to do is cry or pretend to cry to get what they want, then that’s not being a good parent. That’s being a … well, I’m not sure what that is.

The problem is that while you’re a push-over and they don’t ask politely for what they want and respect your answer, you’re teaching them the world is like that as well. Then when they get out and about in society, they think all they have to do is work up a few tears and they get what they want.

We know this isn’t true. The world, if anything, is unforgiving.

I think back to the episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” when a little boy tells Opie all he has to do is pitch a fit or threaten to hold his breath until his dad gives in to what he wants. The boy has to be around 9 or 10 years old in the show and yet he’s rolling on the ground screaming and crying for his bike. From the moment we meet the kid we can say he’s a spoiled brat.

Opie, however, was not raised that way. He tries the temper tantrum approach with his father Andy — but to no avail. Andy simply looks at him and continues working.

Too many parents in our society have given into the temper tantrum trick.

Now as you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking, “This girl has no idea. I bet her parents bargained with her when she was a kid!”

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, I was a little girl and I wanted something desperately. At the time, that something was important and all I could think about, but now I don’t remember what it was.

In my childish mind, I believed yelling and hitting my head on the kitchen floor would help my parents see how much I needed whatever I wanted. So I did it. I banged my head on the floor. It hurt. When my parents didn’t give in, I did it again — this time in the living room where there was carpet. It still hurt and I still didn’t get what I wanted.

In fact, my parents asked if I was OK and why I’d hit my head on the floor. They didn’t say, “Oh this poor baby! I better give her what she wants or she’ll hurt herself!”

After instances like these, I somehow learned that screaming for what I wanted wasn’t the way to do it.

Also, that floor hurt. I had to ask politely and in good ol’ Southern fashion. I added the “yes, ma’am” or “yes, sir” at the end.

Occasionally I was threatened with the “I’ll give you something to cry about!” approach, and I would sober up fast. However, I still respect my parents and it’s because they respected me enough to discipline me.

The point of all this is to say: Some parents in our society need to man up.

Your child will cry. Your child will plead with you. Don’t give in by trying to bargain with them. They’re children. They don’t know what’s best. You do.

Linda Wilkins is a junior journalism major from Tyrone, Ga. She is the city editor for The Lariat.