DISCLAIMER: This is directed to those Malaysian Indian parents who either neglect or trust their kids too much, the kids end up being a part of social degradation.
Lately, we are seeing many discipline problems in our Indian school going boys and girls, especially in secondary schools. Most of us overlook those discipline breaches as not significant but all the quandary the Malaysian Indian community faces now stem from discipline disobedience from school.
What are the discipline problems Malaysian Indian students have?
Well, first of all, the intentional breaching of simple school rules. Schools forbid eyebrow threading, dying hair, long fingernails and dress anomalies. First of all, why do you think the Malaysian Education Ministry give uniforms to school kids? It is to uniform them so that there will not be inferiority and superiority complex among school kids – that they are equal. (teachers making racist remarks are another story altogether)
Schools especially have detailed rules for female students – I went to all girls schools all my secondary school life, and the rules revolved from the size and colour of scrunchies, wrist watch and earrings, folded tudung to the size of the pottu. I was the school prefect and my duty was to handover aberrant students to the discipline teacher. Punishments, were, well, creative not to mention harsh. The heads of those girls who dyed their hair were covered in shower caps, long nails get clipped there and then (prefects carry nail clippers as part as our arsenal), threaded eyebrows got shaved and big and colourful scrunchies, watches and earrings were confiscated and parents were summoned.
Some Indian girls in my school would come to school with their faces yellow. No, they didn’t have jaundice – they had turmeric on their faces. They will be ordered to wash their faces with soap. That took care of the Arundhati yellow colouration.
Now, for boys, apart from school uniform stand out anomalies, eg, not tucking shirt in or hanging necktie, discipline problems like drinking and smoking, playing truant as well as wearing studs flout school rules.
A discipline problem both school going boys and girls have in common is disobedience. They refuse to relent to authority, being rebellious and intractable.
And then there is love.. Indian school boys following and disturbing Indian school girls and both coupling up in the name of love. There is a reason why love in teen years is called cinta monyet. The boy does not love the girl because she can take care of him and his parents in the future. The girl doesn’t love the boy because he can provide her a secured life in the future. Both of them GO TO SCHOOL. This is due to raging hormones and the love feel or rather attraction and infatuation is fleeting. Before you defend that it is deiviga kadhal because it comes without any expectations, let me ask you, how many people marry their first crush or high school sweetheart? It is always Indian students with discipline problems and those in the last classes who have boyfriends and girlfriends. Those students who study well and phlegmatic don’t have time for boyfriends and girlfriends. That is why most Indian parents and teachers oppose love in the adolescent stage – it is not because they are against love but because teen age is the AGE TO STUDY not the AGE TO LOVE. I realized this when I was 14; I was precocious because I grew up around much elder siblings and I was a school prefect. I had to set an example.
More serious discipline problems are fighting, smoking, alcohol consumption and doing drugs. These misconducts can get students be expelled from school and I don’t need to say what will become of their future.
Parents, step up and discipline your kids
As a school prefect, I saw that none of the parents of the disobedient Indian students show up despite summon from teachers. When the teachers ask the students on why their parents didn’t turn up, they buat bodoh. When their parents did show up, it was either during recess or after school. But, the parents don’t meet with the teachers of their kids; they’d meet with their kids’ friends and the meetings were nothing less than a cacophony. The parents will be doing arbitrary, assuming the role of Naatamai. They’d round up the friends of their daughter, all of whom, have discipline problems and ask them whether they called their daughter thevudiya or not among other slurs and shrill squabbles would ensue. I always wondered what’s the use of such arguments. I suppose asking ‘Nee epdi en pille eh ipdi sollelam’ bests the slipping education and deteriorating discipline of their child.
School rules are made for students to be simple, natural and unpretentious. It takes time and effort as well as money to dye hair and thread eyebrows. That time spent on such endeavours that are not allowed in school should be spent on homework and studies, the money, on books and school equipment. Parents, are you blind and not see your kid dye his or her hair? From where do your kids get money to dye hair and thread eyebrows? Are you too busy to keep a watchful eye on your kids? If you define your occupation with Tamil mega serials and movies addiction, then you are squarely to be blamed on your kids’ discipline problems. As parents, it is your responsibility to control your child; do not give in to their every whim and fancy.
Don’t be violent and bash up your kids if they misbehave. It will have reverse and adverse effects. Be firm and engaging. It is okay to raise your voice at your misbehaving kids once in a while, not all the time because your kids will get impervious. Establish authority and exercise it. Make it clear to your children that it is their responsibility to behave properly. You, parents have the responsibility to keep tabs on your child’s behaviour at home which will reflect their behaviour in school. Also, lead by example – action speaks louder than words.
Some kids are clever – at home, they will be angels. Some Malaysian Indian parents be like, “En pulleh maari nalla pulleh ulagathileye paake mudiyathu.” But, once outside, they transform into devils. In order for children being obstructed from wearing such sinusoidal situational masks, one for home and another for school and outside, parents should meet up with the teachers of their kids, be it school or tuition teachers from time to time. Get to know your kids’ friends. Get to know if your child is in bad company. Show up in your kids’ school or tuition center when they least expect you. It is also an effective way to ensure that your kid is still where he is supposed to be in school or tuition hours, that he or she is still where you or the school bus left them. This in itself, quells truancy.
Parents should be unanimous when disciplining their kids. Mother and father should have the same standard of strictness. Disciplining fails when one parent spoils the child and the other parent is strict with the child. Don’t create a home environment where when the father says NO to his kid, the kid runs to its mother because the mother would defy the father and speak in the favour of the kid.
Talk to your kids, discover them, get to know them. This is especially important when kids are in the teen stage. Children tend to get aloof from their parents once they hit puberty. They get shy and self conscious and also rebellious. It is up to parents to keep their teenage kids close to them and teach them family values. Don’t let your teen kids drift away from you. Indian parents always make this mistake of letting their teen kids go, especially adolescent boys. This scenario can well be seen during Thaipusam. How many adolescent boys tail their parents and family during kavadi processions? Close to next to nothing. Such boys prefer to hang out with and walk with their friends and rock the boat on the auspicious day.
Humble down your kids. Take them to orphanages and old folks homes and make them realize how lucky and blessed they are. Automatically kids would cease from being obstinate and demanding to understanding, helpful, appreciative and thankful.
What parents should not do in the name of disciplining their kids
Being too strict, dictating, verbally abusive and nitpicking is a no go. That will make kids be apprehensive in doing anything at all because they don’t know for what they will be scolded for if you rebuke them for every little thing. For example let’s say your child missed a hair when sweeping the house. Instead of saying,”Unakku veede kude olunga koote teriyatha? Angge paaru, oru mudi irukku. Yenthe veleyum olunga seyyathe, maremande, maremande,” say,”Nee nalla veede kootene ma.. Angge oru mudi irukku, atheyum kooti eduthuru.” Which is shorter and more pleasant? After all, it’s just a split hair.
Giving too much freedom and relenting to your kids every whim and fancy is also bad. In the guilt of not being able to spend time with your kids, don’t give them stuff and money to make up for your absence. Instead of sitting in front of the idiot box, spend some time with your kids. Sit with them when they study and check their homework. My mom, no matter how exhausted she was, would check my homework and punish me for every red cross by rapping my left palm (I am lefthanded). But don’t punish your children by giving them extra studying to do – that would make them feel studying like a punishment and self initiation to study whittles. Punishments like doing all the dishes or washing their clothes manually are suitable – menial tasks. Or, tell them to jog around the house or do sit ups and push ups – exercise.
Also, one parent hiding the wrongdoings of the kid from the other parent and leaving all responsibility of disciplining to one parent are incorrect. My nephew behaves differently when his dad is around – he’ll be very well behaved if his dad is around and turn completely anarchic when his dad is not. If my brother is not at large, my nephew would eat in the living room while watching cartoons, wouldn’t do his homework, wouldn’t have siesta and be very disobedient towards his mother and grandma. His mom won’t tell his father of his bad behaviour. Neither does his grandma nor me. We’d threaten him that we’d report his anarchy to his dad and he’d beg, being ever so cute that we end up not telling his dad. Another reason why his grandma and aunt (me) don’t tell his waywardness to his dad is because parents, especially Indian parents, don’t like it when anyone at all say anything bad about their kids. Above all, he’s 5. Let him enjoy his childhood. He is an only child and I’m sure that if he has siblings, he won’t watch the telly so much. My mom was completely the opposite; she’d whack me first at complaints from relatives then reason.
Avoid reprimanding/scolding/yelling at your kids in front of others, especially in front of relatives. That just annihilates their self esteem and self worth. Do that and watch your kids develop inferiority complex and hate you and distance themselves from you.
Why is it important to abide by school rules
KIDS and STUDENTS, you may follow the mantras ‘Meyh lyf, meyh rulez’ and ‘Only Goat Can Judge Meyh’ and apply them in school but it’s bad for your life in the future. Once you finish Form 5, you’ll be given the ‘surat berhenti sekolah’ and there is a column ‘Kelakuan’ and your whole life ahead of you depends on that tiny column besides your SPM result. If the words in the column on your surat berhenti sekolah is anything but ‘Sangat Baik’ or ‘Baik’, your whole reputation goes down the drain. You will be eyed with scepticism and prejudice when you further your studies and find work. The word ‘Sederhana’ or ‘Tidak Baik’ in the Kelakuan column devalues your CV significantly and employers will think twice before employing you.
Why do you think there are rules in school? It is to prepare you for life after you finish school. There are rules everywhere in the world. Traffic rules, civil rules, office rules, workplace rules, etc. If you cannot adhere to school rules, you are going to have problems living in the outside world.
Also, errant behaviour of Indian students in school makes them cherry picked to be recruited in gangs. Schools are the hives where gangs recruit members and run their extortion business.
You can thread your eyebrows, dye your hair, have multiple piercings, put manjal masala on your face once you are out of school. You can wear eyeliner, mascara and lipstick etc. You will have time to do all that you want LATER. Some companies give allowance to their subordinates for grooming. You can take extra time to do smoky eyes or fish tail eye liner style. Pothum pothum alavukku puruvathe pichikelam.
But, in school, do follow the rules. IT IS ESSENTIAL. DISCIPLINE in school is important. Your very future depends on it. Even if you didn’t do well in SPM, if your school attendance is complete and you have a ‘Baik’ in the Kelakuan column in the surat berhenti sekolah, you are good to go.