Chakra Discussions

Authentic Care and Discipline of Children

by Kalavati d.d.

Posted February 20, 2005

I would like to take this opportunity to offer some general information in regard to child care, discipline and abuse.

First of all, I would like to introduce the idea that non-corporal punishment is not synonymous with non-discipline. Non-corporal punishment is known as gentle or respectful discipline. Practicing gentle discipline with a child requires sobriety, self-discipline and thoughtfulness on the part of the parent, teacher or care giver. It involves talking out problems, describing and modeling appropriate and innappropriate behaviors, maintaining clear personal boundaries, and following through on consequences for unnacceptable behaviors. Adults who practice gentle discipline with children are not being lazy or short-sighted. They are endeavoring to keep their parenting on the level of human being and the mode of goodness as opposed to engaging in reactionary, brutish and violent interaction.

What constitutes actual child abuse is written out and illustrated in the educational materials of any child protection, welfare or family support agency. Child abuse is not some vague and surreal idea. It is a very specific event or series of events. The event is traumatic for the child and other witnesses. The symptoms of the abuse and trauma can be subtle or obvious, but they exist absolutely. Abuse can be of a physical, sexual, psychological, educational or spiritual nature.

When we refer to child abuse, we are not talking about a regretable spanking once or twice in a child's life. Child abuse is a disease that a perpetrator forces onto children and society. It has nothing to do with discipline. It has everything to do with fear, denial, lust, anger, perversion, greed, power and uncontrolled action. It is absolutely necessary to understand this distinction. Various forms of "time out", an occassional parental outburst, and numerous natural or logical consequences to a child's misbehavior are normal parts of family life. Abuse is not normal and it is not acceptable.

Children can and will engage in healthy behavior if they are lovingly guided and allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. Unnecessary and destructive rigidity, rough treatment, physical assault, and bribery are poor substitutes for active and positive parenting. By engaging the child in age appropriate activities, honoring the child as an imperfect human being and wonderful spirit soul, consciously modeling appropriate behaviors and speach, and actually listening when they are expressing their issues, we will allow their natural self-respect and self-discipline to blossom. We, as parents, teachers, care givers and adults can carefully tend the children so they will feel safe and valuable. If a person feels safe and valuable, they will contribute and serve happily without cohercion and fear.

There are many resources available to adults who want to care for children in healthy and logical ways. One can find various books, magazines, articles, videos and classes on healthy family and school life by researching subjects such as "conscious parenting," "attachment parenting," "spiritual parenting," or "holistic parenting." Everything listed below is available online.

*Some resources for information on authentic child care and discipline are:

  • Mothering Magazine
  • La Leche League International
  • Attachment Parenting International
  • The Natural Child Project
  • The Alliance for Childhood

    *Some books on positive parenting are:

    *For spirited, active and alert children:

    *Some resources for information on child abuse and child protection are:

    *Some books on child abuse and neglect are:

    Finally, I would like to say that this is a very relevant and necessary discussion that I think should be ongoing in all of our families and communities. We should think seriously about the pain and wretchedness abused persons live with and work so hard to overcome. Invoking Bible quotes and blind following serves no cause but ignorance which ensures more pain for every member of society. One could possibly feel inspired to actually study the subject, thereby enlightening themselves and others. Let us enliven eachother about the inherent worth of children and the sanctity of childhood. This will serve the children, our devotional communities, the acaryas and Sri Sri Radha Krishna.

    Your servant,
    Kalavati devi dasi
    The Vaisnava Children's Initiative

    Persons interested in building healthy relationships between all members of society are invited to visit:

    Vaisnava Family and Community Conference

    Vaisnava Attachment Parenting Association