NOTE: This article was first published on January 4, 2017, but has been updated.
There are many reasons parents avoid discipline:
It doesn’t seem to work.
It’s easier to let the kid have its way.
They feel guilty when the child accuses them of being mean.
It doesn’t feel good. After all, who wants to make their kids cry?
Sometimes we avoid it because of the way our parents disciplined us – harshly or not at all. Maybe the problem wasn’t the correction but how we were corrected.
Proverbs 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. (NIV)
True love disciplines. It does not tolerate wrong-doing because it destroys relationship.
Without discipline, children feel insecure and even unloved.
Discipline should be redemptive. We want our children to learn from consequences, to be motivated to change course. We want them to obey from the heart, not from fear or force.
A child will accept correction if he senses love from the one giving it. So, while it is loving to administer discipline, how we administer it makes all the difference.
Angry discipline neutralizes the effect of correction and creates rebellion in a child’s heart. The secret to disciplining without anger is to be under the discipline of God yourself. (Note: if you fail and discipline in anger, apologize. Children are forgiving. I have apologized to my kids many times!)
To tackle discipline without prayer is dangerous. Without God’s guidance, we’re likely to stir up rebellion.
Discipline is about winning your child’s heart and gaining willing obedience. This will show in their outward behaviour. Don’t settle for outward compliance.
If your child:
then there is a heart issue and the consequence has not reached the level it should.
Outward behaviour is an index to the heart. Body language is a good indicator of what is happening inside your child.
Too often we see discipline as a “this for that”. You did this so you get that. We think the job done because we gave a consequence. Go deeper. Look at the heart of your child and aim to win it.
Don’t be satisfied until you see a change in your child. This may require more time than you expected but it will be worth it.
Pray with and for your child. God is able to soften the hardest of hearts. Don’t be afraid to give more consequences until you see the change.
Balance your correction with loads of hugs, smiles, affection, and encouraging words.
What creative discipline ideas do you use?