As I go into restaurants and malls, I see parents struggling to maintain control of children. They beg, bribe, and get angry. The “little one” seems to come out victorious. Sympathetic onlookers are tortured as they put themselves in the identical position. What are the secrets that make it seem EASY?
Melanie and I raised our six children on these principles. Everyone has a unique approach, but these are what worked well for us:
1) We maintained a spiritual routine in our home.
- Parents must realize that you must “train up a child in the way they SHOULD go.” The picture is a vine tied to a trellis. You need to establish a structure, a system of spirituality for them to walk in. For us, the minimum was:
- Prayer at meals.
- Bible reading and prayer at bedtime.
- Church on the weekend.
- Children with a “trellis” like that have an inner structure to interpret life. They are not confused and rebellious. This does not mean they will never turn from God. It does mean, however, that all discipline will become a part of this “framework.”
2) We disciplined carefully at each sign of disobedience or rebellion.
- Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, had a massive crime problem. His approach? Go after the small offenders (jaywalking, panhandling, etc.) and you will catch the big criminals. They cannot resist breaking the law, even at the lowest level!
- Don’t ignore any disobedience or rebellion. Take the time (15-20 minutes) to thoroughly discipline a child who “acts out.” This will take you hours in the short run but save you years in the long run. Don’t wait for a “nuclear meltdown” at the mall! Discipline them over something as simple as ignoring your instructions.
3) We understood “boundaries and consequences.”
- The “Boundaries for Kids” series (see it HERE) helped us to understand that discipline was totally unemotional. It is simply drawing a clear boundary and attaching a consequence. When a child disobeys, they have crossed that boundary and you immediately enforce the consequence.
- When you do this, discipline is over their choices. They make bad choices, they suffer bad consequences. Sort of sounds like the criminal justice system, doesn’t it? A judge does not ever get emotional, she simply enforces the penalty the law has already set out.
4) Discipline can be postponed until a later time with equal effectiveness.
- Discipline in public is almost impossible. Our children knew in advance of the consequences of acting out in public. When they acted out anyway, a simple word reminding them of what was going to happen when they got home did the trick!
- Postponing the discipline worked quite well. Their mind replayed the anticipated discipline over and over before it actually happened. They knew (for sure) that there would be no escape. And there wasn’t.
Try these four for starters. I will deal further with this subject at a later date.
Let’s raise a godly generation!
Comment: Do you have a question about child discipline or a method that has worked very well for you? Share it below with our readers!