Can You Discipline Your Child Without Using Physical Punishment

Severe punishment cannot contribute to children’s behavior change.

Since 2016, the government of Rwanda through the ministry of Gender and Family Promotion(MIGEPROF) have established the community-based child protection workers known as Inshuti z’umuryango (IZUs), they are volunteers in charge of child and family protection services at the village level. Their daily responsibilities include promoting child rights, protecting children from violence, abuse, and exploitation, mobilizing against early pregnancies and school dropouts, and promoting equal rights of children with disabilities.

Nkubito Innocent is head of community-based child protection workers known as Inshuti z’umuryango (IZUs) in Nyamugari Sector, Kirehe District, besides those responsibilities he is a parent of six children who has started to raise them without using physical and humiliating punishment. He agrees that parents have responsibilities to raise their children but, to raise them successfully require more efforts in these days in order to teach them to distinguish right from wrong.

Throughout the AGDCR project implementation, the project team visits beneficiaries in their households to witness the impact of the project efforts in the community. It’s in this reason the project team visited Innocent Nkubito to see whether the awareness session he participated in have helped him to change his practices in disciplining his children.

In his own words Innocent Nkubito said that: “Severe punishment cannot contribute to children behaviour change.” Innocent agree that there are multiple things that can attempt children, and, those are in relation to children mistakes that often provoke to be punished, and which is the source of severe punishment that abuse children.

He continued: “I used to impose severe punishment to my children, however after gaining advice from sensitization session that was organized by Children’s Voice Today(CVT)  on consequences of those punishments for children, I felt a deep sorrow in the way that I feel that I am obliged to advise every parent to use positive discipline instead of giving any punishment that can negatively impact the wellbeing of a child.” In addition, he emphasised on the role of talking with children while linking the consequence of their behavior to help children see that their choices have direct consequences, instead of using physical and humiliating punishment. He concluded in our conversation saying that: “I realized that it is more successful to have an amicable conversation with your child and try to be his/her friend so that the child considers you as his/her advisor.

Innocent has participated in the sensitization session as a head of community-based child protection workers in Nyamugari Sector, Kirehe District aimed to end physical and humiliating punishment against children in all settings organized by children including children’s representatives of others in the CVT grassroots groups with children representative of others in the government children established forums in May 2018  supported by Children’s Voice Today (CVT) for stakeholders including Civil Society Organizations (Csos) and faith-based organizations representatives, school Head Teachers, Incuti Z’umuryango(IZUs), Community parents facilitators working with AJEPHRODO in Sida-funded project, Police and other local leaders of Kirehe district.

In the first year of the implementation of the the Accountable Governance that Protect and Deliver Children’s Rights in Rwanda(AGDCR) project in that district during consultation sessions conducted by CVT on physical and humiliating punishment against children in December 2017, found that children often face those punishments throughout the community including at home, and at school.

Based on those findings, the project team organized the sensitization session that has encouraged Mr. Innocent to mobilize other parents to use positive discipline in their daily parenting.

The sensitization session was organized in the implementation of the Accountable Governance that Protects and Deliver Children’s Rights in Rwanda(AGDCR) project by CVT in the partnership with Save the Children Rwanda under the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency(Sida). The project facilitated participants to attend the session by providing them with transport refunds and also the project provided them with copies of flyers and posters contains the message to fight against physical and humiliating punishment in all settings.

The AGDCR project has been implemented since 2017 in four districts including Burera district in the Northern province, Kirehe in the Eastern province, Nyarugenge in the City of Kigali and Ruhango district in the Southern province and most of the project activities have engaged children themselves to advocate for their rights in the community.

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