Trying to figure out how to correct a child is a difficult, but a brilliant story was told to me by the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi as an example of how it is best done.
Gandhi was born in South Africa, and after his university training, he went to India to lead the struggle against British colonialism. He had every intention of returning to South Africa to lead the struggle against apartheid, but sadly, as we all know, he was assassinated before he could do that. Gandhi's son took up his father's commitment to end apartheid, and so the family returned to South Africa to work toward that end.
His grandson Arun Gandhi told me that one day his father asked him to drive him to a meeting in Johannesburg.
"My father asked me to drop off the automobile at the repair garage and then be back at five o'clock to pick him up," he said.
The grandson went on to say,
"I dropped my father off for his meeting and got the car to the garage by one. Since it was a long time until five o'clock, I figured I could go to the movies, which I did. That day there was a double feature being shown, and when I got out I checked my watch and realised that it was past five o'clock!
"I rushed to the corner where my father had said he would be waiting for me, and when I saw him there, standing in the rain, I tried to think of excuses I could make. I rushed up to him and said,
"Father, you must forgive me. It is taking them longer to repair the automobile than I thought it would take, but if you wait here I will go and get the car. It should be ready by now."
"My father bowed his head and looked downward. He stood for a long moment and then he said, "When you were not here at our meeting time I called the garage to see why you were late. They told me the automobile was ready at three o'clock! Now I have to give some thought as to how I have failed, so as to have a son who would lie to his own father. I will have to think about this. So I am going to walk home and use the time during my walk to meditate on this question."
Arun Gandhi said,
"I followed my elderly father home that rainy, misty night, watching him stagger along the muddy road. I rode behind him with headlights of the car flashing ahead of his steps. And as I watched him stumbling toward home, I beat on the steering wheel and said over and over,
"I will never lie again!
I will never lie again!
I will never lie again!
It was obvious that this was a way of correcting a child that did not involve punishing the child directly, but showed the child how much hurt a parent feels when a child does what is wrong.