NUGGETS OF GOLD a monthly Blog by David Nofziger
The Art of Discipline
June 1, 2020
As parents, we often discipline our children in a way that was similar to how our parents disciplined us. That was our example, and few of us have had any training in child-rearing to change that pattern. If your spouse was disciplined differently than you were as a child, it can often be a source of conflict in the marital relationship. Also, it is quite common for one parent to be more of a disciplinarian and the other a nurturer, and that can also cause conflict.
Therefore, it can be very valuable as young parents to get some parenting education to better prepare for all the challenges your young children will bring. You can do that by attending parenting classes, reading good books on parenting, and joining support groups for parents. Hopefully, I have motivated you to do some study and research, but let me offer a few suggestions in this short article to help you begin your journey in learning the art of discipline.
The first thing we often do when our children misbehave is yell at them. That gets their attention, and they will often listen if they are afraid of us. We think of that as our children respecting us, but unfortunately, the very act of yelling is disrespectful. Thus, even though they might obey out of fear, they are building a disrespect of their parents, which will often erupt into rebellion at a time when the child decides they no longer have to be afraid of their parent.
Parents often think of discipline as punishing their children when they misbehave. But if there is not a balance of nurturing and correction, the child may again obey out of fear rather than love and respect. Plus, with no explanation, the child may not fully realize what they did wrong or why they were punished.
Learning the art of discipline begins when we remember that the word discipline comes from the root verb “to disciple.” We must always teach before we apply any consequences. When I was a child, I loved the television show about a collie named “Lassie.” I know I am showing my age. When young Timmy got into trouble or misbehaved, the very next scene always had dad and Timmy at the kitchen table with his dad helping him understand what he did wrong and what he could learn from that experience. Punishment or correction for misbehavior works best if the child fully understands what they have done wrong, and the consequences of that misbehavior are logical and congruent with the misbehavior.
With this said, let’s examine a three-step process that you can practice with your children to improve your balance of love and discipline as you teach your children to behave respectfully.
First, make sure that you are in control of your own emotions when your child has misbehaved, and then sit down and talk to them about what they did wrong and why that behavior is unacceptable. There are three “f’s” to remember at this step: be fair, be firm, and be friendly.
Next, make sure that your child can clearly state back in their own words what they did wrong and have them apologize to anyone they may have mistreated or wronged.
Finally, to help them remember not to do that again, give them a consequence for that wrong behavior. Try to make it a consequence that fits the “crime” (is logical and appropriate for the misbehavior) and will cause the child to think before they misbehave in that way again. Always let them know that you are doing this because you love them and want them to grow to be healthy, responsible adults.
Proverbs 22:6 reminds us to, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” NKJV
Remember, we are God’s children as well. He also disciplines us because He loves us and teaches us through the Bible. If we are obedient to His Word, we avoid some of the natural consequences caused by our misbehavior or sin. Hebrews 12:5-6 reminds us of this truth, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” NIV
Nuggets of Gold is a monthly Blog focused on Personal growth, Marriage Improvement, and Parenting Issues. Your comments can be entered below. They are always welcome and suggestions for future posts are appreciated. Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts with you.
David Nofziger has been the director and lead counselor at Hope Alive Counseling Services in Defiance since 1989 and author of “Brain Washed, Transforming Your Self-Image through the Amazing Love of God.” He and his wife, Sue, attend Family Christian Center in Defiance where they head up the church’s mission program. Visit HopeAliveCounseling.com for more information.
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