Children and Discipline: What’s the Best Way?
Sadhguru: Essentially, in English, the word “discipline” means “a learning” or “to learn.” When you say, “I am disciplined,” that means you are always willing to learn. You are not stuck in some mode. Discipline is not just doing something in a particular way. If you constantly strive and are willing to learn how to do everything better, you are disciplined.
You cannot impose learning but you can force people to do certain things. But once you start forcing people, if it's for a short while it can be done, but if it is long-term, your life will go, their life will go. In trying to enforce it your life will go. Their life will go in trying to dodge it.
In my own childhood, whatever my family tried to impose never worked. But whatever was brought in as a kind of a culture in the family worked and it has benefited me immensely in many ways. It was just simple things. For example, wherever we were, we always went back home for lunch and dinner. It wasn’t possible for breakfast because people were leaving at different times but lunch and dinner, the whole family always ate together. If one person didn’t come, the whole family would be waiting. So, you could not “not go” on time. This was not an imposition. An atmosphere was created where you had to be a part of it.
Essentially, it is about doing what is needed in a certain way. If you want to have a certain quality of life you have to have a clean space. To keep the place clean you have to do certain things. If you're not willing to bend down and do that then you will live in a dirty place. So, first let's set our priorities right. If you make people understand why something has to be done, I'm sure every sensible human being is willing to do it. If you are a sensible human being you understand what is best and you do it. If you don’t understand, if someone tells you, at least you will listen and understand. If you don’t get anything, you are a donkey. Donkeys will get treated like donkeys. Even if people don’t treat you like donkeys, you will live like a donkey.
In the house, it didn’t matter what, even if the maid did not come, my mother would sweep the house twice, in the morning and evening, and swab the house once. She would not have her bath and eat unless the house was swept and swabbed. How will you let your mother do the whole thing by herself? So everybody pitched in to whatever extent they could. If only the maid was doing it and when the maid was not there my mother did not do it, we would have never thought of doing it because it would have been the maid’s work. But whenever she was not there, without hesitation my mother was doing it, so there was no question of not doing it. Everybody had to do it.
It was these little things that made all the difference. Simple things like the way you leave your bed when you get up in the morning to where you leave your coffee cup – these things are not there in many families unfortunately. No one ever yelled at us if we didn’t do these things. My mother would sit and do it. When you saw her doing it you had to pitch in and do it yourself.
Civilization has disseminated not through textbooks or preachers. It is essentially the way a family lives. Everything, from a bathroom to a dining table, how you leave them, these things were all set and it had to happen that way. Whether you participate or not, no one asked but how long can you just simply be like that? You cannot be. When everyone is doing it you also become a part of it and do it.
If you bring yogic practices into a child’s life there is no way they cannot be disciplined. Practicing yoga brings discipline into life because you have to do certain things in a certain way. Otherwise it does not work. The way yoga is taught is so meticulous that once you start doing it with that sense of meticulousness, there is no way you cannot be disciplined.
Editor’s Note: The ebook “Inspire Your Child Inspire the World” has more of Sadhguru’s wisdom on childhood, parenting and education.