Discipline With Love

I will never forget that Sunday when I was in 1st grade. There were five of us sisters and it was a handful to get all of us dressed for church. My mom was stressed and trying to get herself ready when we girls were being silly and not cooperating to say the least. She was at her wits end and finally called my dad in to see to the matter.

Well, Dad happened to be a fun mood that day, but knew he had to make Mom happy. He came into our room and shut the door. He got us all together and said, “Girls, Mom is getting upset and wants you to be good and get ready for church. Let’s make Mom happy. When I clap real hard, you start crying so she thinks I am spanking you. Then I better see you quickly get dressed and ready for church.” Well, the planned worked! Dad clapped, we pretended to cry, we got dressed in a flash and everyone was happy! (Oh, how I miss my loving parents.)

We’ve spent some time over the past few weeks talking about discipline. Although this is the last blog on this subject, I feel it’s important.

We must not make discipline the main thing children think of when they are grown and reminisce on their childhood.  

If done properly and with love, it is the love that will stand out. If your children are going through a phase that requires lots of disciplining, then that’s the time you also spend emphasizing all the good decisions they make. Sometimes that is hard to do when they are trying your patience day in and day out, but it’s still important. If all they hear is correction during this season in their life, they can develop a feeling of low self-worth. In creating a masterpiece, discipline must be surrounded with love.

There are different ways to discipline a child.

Effective discipline is different for different children and methods can change as they get older. Whether the discipline is restriction, time-out, spanking…it will be way different for a 15 year old than for a 3 year old. But no matter the discipline used, it should be done the Bible way…in love. When a child is physically or emotionally abused, it affects them for the rest of their life. Many times an abused child will either grow up to either not discipline their children at all or will follow in the abusive path of their parents. In all forms of discipline, do it the right way and not in anger. Wait until you have cooled down and then allow love to be in control.

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26

Believe me, as a parent I know that kids can do things to stir up righteous indignation. You would not be human if you didn’t get upset when your child embarrasses you in front of your friends or continuously does something when being instructed not to. The question is what will we do as a parent when we are angry? The answer should be: get control of ourselves.

“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”  Proverbs 16:32

How in the world can we expect our kids to control their anger when their mom or dad can’t even do so? Parent: Cool down before disciplining or blurting out words that could stay in your child’s mind for years. Get a grip. Control yourself. Be a godly example to your children and teach them how to control anger so that when they are one day parents, they will want to follow in your footsteps. God is against abuse of any form.

“Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”  James 1:20 NLT

When does a young child need discipline?  

When a baby is born they will cry to communicate one of 3 things:  

  1. They are uncomfortable or sick.
  2. They are hungry or thirsty.
  3. They are sleepy.

When you go through the process of elimination and find the reason for the cry, then you can give them what is necessary. A pet peeve of mine is listening to a baby or toddler crying or screaming in a store while rubbing their sleepy eyes and the parent is disciplining them or telling them to shut up as the child continues. I want so much to walk over to them and politely tell them to take them home and put them to bed. They are sleepy and should not be drug around shopping during nap time and then disciplined because her body needs sleep! Or maybe it’s past lunchtime and they are hungry and are getting grumpy and we want to react. To discipline a child for being fussy when they need sleep or are hungry is unfair and incorrect. Take time to make sure your child’s needs are met first and foremost.

Proper disciplining is punishing a child for what they did and never for who they are.  

Be certain that your child knows exactly why and what they are being punished for. Be sure they know even as a toddler why they are being popped on the hand. They must be disciplined because they did something wrong, not because they are a bad person. The punishment is for their behavior and what they did, not for who they are. Please do not tell your child they are bad, but rather what they did was a bad choice. This is so important.

Use much wisdom in disciplining stepchildren.

Stepchildren take you on a whole new road in parenting and requires much wisdom. It’s important when going into a second marriage where stepchildren will be involved that your role as a stepparent is discussed and your responsibility is clear ahead of time. It is not fair to the child or yourself to go into that relationship not knowing the guidelines that are expected of you. Raising a stepchild can be awesome and rewarding and you can bond like the birth parent, but you must be wise, full of love and not overstep your bounds.

Constant nagging, begging and yelling are emotionally harmful to a child.

Nagging is basically trying to get someone else to come up to your standards by telling them the same thing over and over again. Nagging is provoking.

“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they get discouraged.” Colossians 3:20

Nagging or telling a child to do something a hundred times is pure ridiculous in my opinion. They often turn you off after the second or third time. All they hear is this voice that keeps bugging them, “Stop playing that game and do your homework.” The Lord refers to nagging like a dripping faucet. That is what kids consider their parents when they keep on and on and on and on. Why not give yourself a break and teach your child with proper discipline. Say it once and if you have to say it twice, let there be consequences that go along with it if not done. If that consistency is kept up then it won’t take but a time or two when they take you serious the first time and nagging is not necessary. Try it for a week and just see what a difference it will make. It’s time to turn parenting into a joy, Mom and Dad!

To Do: If you are a stepparent or married to a stepparent, have a heart to heart with your spouse and be sure to know the discipline boundaries expected.

Suggested Family Time: Riding in the car with the kids? Cleaning the kitchen together after dinner? Start a fun, fictional story and have the kids take turns making up what happens next in the story. Keep it going and enjoy some imagination time! This is so much fun! I have recorded stories from my grand kids and can’t wait for them to hear them when they are grown up.

Time to Smile: A retired man named Jim started attending a beginning watercolors class. During one session, the instructor asked what they planned to do with their paintings. Virtually all the students were undecided, but Jim knew exactly what he was going to do with his. “I am going to send them to my children,” he said with a smile, “so they can put them on their refrigerators.”

Recommended Reading: I’m Not your Kid: A Christian’s Guide to a Healthy Stepfamily by Kay Adkins

Previous Recap: Disciplining the Bible Way. We have been reviewing the scriptural teaching on properly disciplining our children and creating a masterpiece. There certainly is a right and wrong way to correct our kids. We want to do it the Bible way!