Expert: How to Discipline Your Children

Jennifer Poole, the executive director of Medical Services Pacific (MSP) said the pur­pose of discipline was to teach chil­dren the appropriate behaviour so they may get along with others and
06 Sep 2018 11:00
Expert: How to Discipline Your Children
Medical Services Pacific founder and executive director Jennifer Poole with Permanent Secretary for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Dr Josefa Koroivueta during a signing agreement of the National Child Helpline last month. Photo: DEPTFO News

Jennifer Poole, the executive director of Medical Services Pacific (MSP) said the pur­pose of discipline was to teach chil­dren the appropriate behaviour so they may get along with others and live effectively in the world.

Her comments come after an 11-year-old boy allegedly took his own life last Saturday after an ar­gument broke out with his mother.

Ms Poole said: “It involves guid­ing children to make wise decisions about their conduct and gradually allowing them to accept the respon­sibility for their choices.

“There are various ways parents can enforce discipline through rewards and non-physical pun­ishment such as using time-outs, or a combination of rewards and restricting privileges such as tel­evision or video games, which are effective methods of initiating pa­rental controls to re-direct a child.

“Physical punishment in the name of discipline is a negative tool.

“Parents should strive to disci­pline their children using positive tools.”

Ms Poole said rewards should be used where a child is acknowledged for good behaviour and punishment for inappropriate behaviour is done by removal of privileges like hang­ing out with friends or even having to do extra household chores.

“Sometimes children act out as they are expressing something that they are unable to talk about or ex­plain,” Ms Poole said.

“It could represent situations at school, among peers or even sexual abuse.”


There are many issues that can push a child towards depression or anxiety and Ms Poole said it was important to identify the root cause of child’s behaviour or atti­tude change.

She said situations in schools (e.g. bullying), child sexual abuse, and experi­ences of traumatic inci­dents or being a victim of domestic violence are some factors.

“Therefore, the first step at individual level is to take anyone seriously if they speak of commit­ting suicide or make such suggestions.

“It is important to look out of indicators of depression, anxie­ty, self-harm and sub­stance abuse.”

Ms Poole add­ed MSP be­lieved that awareness, education and empow­erment was the key to ad­dress the health concern.

“Nationally, services are provided by various agencies, who work col­laboratively as part of the National Inter-Agen­cy Guideline on Child Abuse and Neglect.”

Ms Poole urged par­ents to recognise the signs of depression, withdrawal or anxiety or anxious.

She said report children at risk or others in need to the Child Helpline or key service providers such as the Ministry of Women Children and Poverty Alleviation, Depart­ment of Child Services, or the Fiji Police Force.

“It is important for parents to safe­guard their children form any form of abuse and neglect and at the same time pay attention to signs/indicators of such incidences or their child being distressed,” said Ms Poole.

Meanwhile two other cases of alleged suicide involving stu­dents were reported.

In Ovalau, a Year 11 student of St John’s College in Cawaci, allegedly committed suicide in the dormitory on August 28.

On September 2, a 14-year-old claimed that two unknown men had allegedly set her alight. The victim suffered 90 percent burns, she later died on Monday. Following post-mortem examinations, it was determined that it was a suicide case. Police ruled out foul play.

If you see a child suffering from depression or at risk, call the Na­tional Child Helpline on 1325 or visit the Medical Services Pacific located at 355 Waimanu Road, Suva or Lot 11, Naiyaca Sub-division in Labasa.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa


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