The Discipline of Children

I’m now a grandfather. The raising of small children is in my past. I’m proud of our children who are both Christians and hardworking, productive people. So, I will venture to say a few things on what I’ve learned about disciplining children.

I have learned that sometimes a child acts up in order to gain attention. The way to fix that problem is give them the positive attention he or she is seeking. Of course, this means recognizing the problem in yourself that maybe you’ve been too busy.

I have learned that sometimes acting out has to do with stresses in the child’s life. We need to know what’s going on in our child’s life. We may have to sit and talk, ask questions and explore. Otherwise we are only treating one side of the problem and maybe making things worse. We are adding a stress rather than discovering and dealing with the stress. A problem at school can manifest itself with acting out at home, and vice versa.

I have learned to distinguish childish behavior from rebellious behavior. The latter received the greater punishments. By the way, I include lying with rebellious behavior. Part of our teaching, training, and disciplining children should results in a person who respects authority.

I have learned that children will try to divide and conquer, so it is important for Mom and Dad to be on the same page which means consulting one another.

I have learned to start small. The danger is that we will give a snap decision of a punishment that we will later decide is too severe, and then we will change our mind. Best to start small, and if the same infraction occurs, build slowly with greater punishment.

I have learned that children will test boundaries, but if you are inconsistent in your boundaries, the testing of those boundaries will be worse. I’ve seen children out in public that seem to push their parents buttons all the time. If you are always using anger to discipline your child, you are doing it wrong. The problem probably lies with your inconsistency.

I have learned that corrective discipline needs to be unpleasant, so we avoid repeating the offense. “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11, ESV). What works for one child may not for another.

Discipline is more than correction. We also teach our values and beliefs about God, and those values and beliefs need to be seen in our daily lives.

The goal is consistent, fair discipline, which involves knowing what is going on in your child’s life. This goal includes the positive sharing of values and beliefs. The reward is wonderful times and conversations with your adult children who are moral, spiritual, and responsible adults.

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