Disciplining our children is probably THE most difficult aspect of parenting. It requires so much patience and consistency on our part that it can be totally draining. Let’s admit it there are times that we all take a deep breath and wonder if we’re really doing a good job at this parenting thing.
We all realize that we need to discipline our children, and we all do that differently because our children are different. But in the end we all have the same goal, we want our children to honor and respect us. So how do we discipline our kids in a way that leads them to have honor and respect for us?
We tend to look at someone with a slender, athletic build and think, “They must be really disciplined.” We also know we’re called to discipline our children, so what does discipline really mean anyway?! When we discipline our children we apply appropriate consequences now in a way that helps a child choose correctly in the future. How is this different that punishment? Punishment is repaying someone for something they’ve done wrong. The root of punishment is retribution. This is the opposite of discipline. The root of discipline is love.
In Hebrews 12 we get a beautiful glimpse at how God disciplines us. God’s discipline to us is proof that He loves us. It’s the same with our children. We discipline them because we love them. Take a moment to read Hebrews 12:1-13 now.
So what does disciplining with honor look like? Here are a few practical tools to assure you and I are disciplining with honor:
- Set realistic expectations. Know your children well to know what he/she is capable of. Push them to be the best them.
- Never threaten. Take a moment to think through consequences before you throw them out there. Only give a consequence that you KNOW you can stand behind.
- Don’t discipline in anger. It’s OK to send your child to their room and tell them you need to calm down (or send yourself to your room) before you speak with them regarding their misbehavior.
- Be consistent. Don’t dismiss misbehavior one day and punish it the next.
- Don’t be afraid of consequences. We live in a world with rules and consequences. For every action there is a consequence. Real discipline teaches this union.
- Set limits. Discipline and boundaries illustrate love and safety to our children. Don’t be a pushover parent.
- Don’t get caught in the cycle of using words to correct behavior. Children are not miniature adults who understand the heart behind what we do. Employ logical consequences.
Discipline is basically short-term pain for long term gain. It’s not easy to discipline. In fact it takes personal discipline to discipline our children. God has uniquely created our children, and our desire should be to help them become the person God intends. We do that when we discipline with honor!
I grew up in a home with three brothers and there were many times as boys we might have gotten out of control and we might possibly have disobeyed our house rules. When we got in trouble my mom would always immediately step in and give us a consequence. There might also have been times that we three boys may have disrespected our mom and continued to do what we wanted to do. I’ll never forget the first time we crossed that line one too many times and she pulled the ultimate discipline card. Mom pulled the dad card. With determination she sat us down and let us know that dad would handle our punishment when he got home. That move was always a behavior miracle. We all three would immediately become saints for the rest of the day. We knew what was in store for us…a tired dad at the end of a workday was not fun to face.
When I think back on those discipline moments growing up I now realize that the real issue behind getting in trouble was that I was disrespecting my mom. She had warned us, corrected us, helped us, and still I was disrespecting her by selfishly choosing to do what I wanted. That is still the same with every child today. Disrespect is the root of disobedience. This is why when your kids make mistakes it makes you so angry…you feel disrespected. This is why discipline is so difficult for every parent. In the moment our child disobeys we all take it personally and we forget that our goal in discipline is not behavior modification but rather character formation. Our goal when we discipline is to help our children learn to honor others and not just to follow our rules. In the book of Proverbs we discover an incredible thought from a parent named Solomon. I love learning from other parents even when I read the Bible. Solomon said this…
Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.
As parents this is a great reminder. God has placed us in this role of mom or dad to direct the path of our kids. This is critical because as humans if we are not directed and challenged we will always choose the selfish path over the right path. Every child needs someone in their life to show them the way. Solomon says to direct children in the way they should go; not the way I think they should go, but in the way God has designed them to go. The “right path.” That right path that we so often forget is the path of honor and respect. Putting other’s needs before our own wants. When it comes to teaching our kids about honor through the way we discipline our primary responsibility is to give our children what they need, not what they want. It takes patience and consistency but pays off over time!
In this month’s online parenting class we want to invite you evaluate how you are doing with this issue of discipline with your kids. Evaluation and self-awareness are important parts of becoming a better parent. Is the way you discipline your child teaching them how to honor others?
When it comes to the topic of discipline we all have opinions because we were all raised in unique homes with parents of our own. We tend to become very defensive when we talk about the topic. We promise this month we will not give you the right or wrong of discipline plans or strategies. Our goal is help you fight for the heart of your child as you discipline them in a way that teaching them honor!
This week we want to ask a few challenging questions…
What frustrates you most when your kids disobey?
When you identify what really frustrates you the most in moments of disobedience then you have a shot of staying in control when your discipline. We all just have to admit it…as parents we get out of control at times. We say things we regret and we don’t act rationally. You have to identify what makes you lose focus of the goal of building character as you discipline.
What are my kids learning from me when I discipline them?
I tend to get angry pretty quickly when trying to discipline my kids. Because of that I can dishonor my kids quickly when I dishonor them and that is the opposite of the goal. Over time I have learned this but it’s really hard to overcome. I have to remind myself over and over the goal is building character and not just obedience. Look at your last discipline moment and evaluate what your kids learned from you?
How are each of my kids different and what do they need from me?
If you are going to teach what honor looks like through the way you discipline then you need to realize that every child is unique. Not every child can be led the same way just like not every one in your work office can be communicated with in the same way. Effective discipline begins with understanding the child. Stop trying to be fair and fight to be effective as a parent.
Have the courage this week to really ask yourselves these hard questions. In a few weeks we will email you part 2 of this online parenting class and help you with some practical Dos and don’ts of disciplining with honor!