Today’s question was submitted during our “You Asked for It” midweek series in December, but we weren’t able to answer it then. A CLC writes, “I really need help with disciplining my son. I failed utterly w/my older son & don’t want to make the same mistake. I’ve tried everything I can think of – I need help!”
Since it’s been so long since I’ve had to discipline children (and my wife will tell you it wasn’t my best area, even then), I’ve asked our KidsLife Director, Brent McQuay, to be our guest today in responding to this very important question:
That is a great question, and one we like to talk about a lot on the Kidslife Blog. We actually have 3 posts on Discipline you can check out: “Time to talk about the “D” word”; “Creative Discipline Ideas” & “Top 10 Things Children Want Their Parents To Do With Them”
The Bible is pretty clear on the benefits of discipline and even the dangers of not disciplining our kids, one of my favorites is Proverbs 29:17 ESV. How does that sound as a parent: to have a child that gives you rest instead of stress, and brings joy instead of frustration!
I could talk about this subject for days but for the sake of time I believe that “healthy” discipline really requires two things, LOVE & CONSISTENCY.
Love has to be the motivation and foundation of your discipline. It needs to be communicated clearly to your child repeatedly. “I am doing this because I love you” As your child grows, add to the statement, “I am doing this because I love you, and I want you to succeed in life” or “I am doing this because I love you, and I don’t want you to repeat my mistakes.” Be open and honest with them and above all let them KNOW, not just HEAR that you love them, especially when you are disciplining them.
I have seen well-meaning parents discipline out of principle, and out of frustration, or out of a desire to enforce the rules, and while I don’t doubt that they love their kids, they simply failed to express their love in the midst of discipline. I have seen this “discipline without love” lead to rebellion, especially in teenagers!
The second thing I believe your discipline needs is consistency. This applies to both WHEN you discipline and HOW you discipline, and needs to be the same no matter WHO is doing the discipline; i.e., Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, whoever!
Consistent discipline means every time you see a certain action that you have decided needs correction, you discipline the child and you use the same type of discipline. If talking back to you on Monday earns the child a 5-minute time out, but on Wednesday it earns a “Go to your room without dinner” there is no consistency and it can create confusion. And even worse is when on Monday it earns “X Discipline” and on Wednesday it is ignored. This creates a mentality that this behavior is sometimes ok, or the feeling that sometimes they can get away with it.
Sit down with your kids and let them know what behavior is NOT OK, and let them know what to expect when they misbehave. When there are clear expectations it is easier for you as a parent to discipline because their are no surprises. It even removes a lot of the argument that typically takes place when disciplining older children (although nothing can remove all chance for argument from a teen)
Setting up clear expectations and pre-defined consequences can also help you when you start to lose your parenting cool. Let’s say Johnny has picked the wrong day to misbehave, you are already tired and frustrated and then he goes and does the 1 thing that bothers you more than anything else. Sticking to the pre-defined consequences can protect you from “going off” on your kids.
Discipline is rarely easy to receive or to give for anybody but there are a lot of resources out there. For my own parenting journey I use the resources provided by Focus On The Family almost daily! They have an incredible series of articles on “EFFECTIVE BIBLICAL DISCIPLINE”. If you are really struggling in this area, take the time to read some of those articles. Also know that the Kidslife staff is here for you, if you ever need someone to talk to give us a call, shoot us an email, or just stop by, We are here for you!
Hope that helps! For all you parents, my son posts regularly at his blog, and I encourage you to subscribe here – just add your email in the “Follow by email” box and submit.
By the way, financial pressure affect even our children, too – it’s not too late to sign up for the Financial Learning Experience on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 5pm
Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?