“Little children should be seen and not heard” was an arrogant and misguided belief held in the Victorian era in UK and probably across the Western world. I don’t think it was much better in China or India where discipline for children was considered essential and freedom of expression strictly controlled. “Speak only when spoken to” was another catchphrase of astonishing adult arrogance.

Now the tide has turned. Long gone are the days of corporal punishment, or being told to “stand in the corner till you see the error of your ways” or being sent to bed with no supper as a punishment. The “Dunces Hat” for stupid answers in school has been trampled on, the “100 lines” saying “I must listen to my teacher” are banished. It’s all sweetness and light, harmony and understanding these days. No thought of discipline and punishment.

But is it working? Certainly the fear of punishment is a great incentive but cruel and painful punishments are certainly not a good idea, whether they are physical or mental. So how to keep discipline and order without reverting to draconian measures? This is today’s challenge.

NOW Bali with Kids

Judging by the number of parents I see (in airports, hotels and malls mostly) who have lost control of their little kids, and are subjected to hysterical screaming demands and tantrum displays, the current “softly-softly” approach isn’t working.

Kids need lines of demarcation, they need to know the limits and if parents aren’t brave enough to draw those lines and enforce them then chaos reigns and honestly no-one wins. The kids themselves are miserable, and the parents distraught, depressed and stressed.

But one simple way to keep kids happy and engaged is through travel and new discoveries together. Yes it’s great sticking them in the pool or kid’s club for the day, but what’s needed is to take them to parks, museums and adventures. Get active, get inspired, go to the botanical gardens and do the Tree Top’s Challenge, go to the Safari Park and the Elephant Park.

Hit the museums and learn about art (and take the art lessons), walk along beaches, learn to surf, learn to waterski.

Kids will love learning and will mature much more quickly when absorbed and engaged in a wide variety of things.

Alistair G. Speirs

Alistair G. Speirs

Alistair G Speirs, OBE, is the Publisher of NOW! Magazines. He has been in the publishing, advertising and PR business for the last 25 years. He started both NOW! Bali and NOW! Jakarta as each region's preferred community magazine.