Cheerful Discipline

Boise Trip-HQ-11“Cheerful” isn’t usually the word most people use to describe when disciplining their children. A lot of the time we tend to think of discipline as stern and angry correction. And at times it rightly is. But because raising kids is largely training, we don’t need to be coming down so hard on them as often as we do.

Kids are still learning how to do life. They don’t know that what they are doing is unacceptable (okay, sometimes they do). Pulling your kid aside, and saying, “Hey, I know blowing bubbles in your milk is fascinating, but we don’t really do that because it makes a huge mess” will be more readily absorbed than barking at them, “Hey, stop that!”

Let’s say they do something that’s outright defiant. They respond to you by angrily chucking a toy and screaming, “NO!” That kind of behavior is unacceptable, and definitely merits a consequence. But we can correct them without losing it. Calmly take them aside, explain what they did wrong, then lovingly explain what their consequence will be, and swiftly carry it out. You might hold their hand, or affectionately have an arm around them as you explain to them, “Hey, throwing toys and screaming ‘no’ at Mommy is not okay. Every time you do that, XYZ is going to happen okay?” Your patient and loving tone will go a long way because it communicates that even though you won’t tolerate their defiant behavior, you believe in them, and are aiming to teach them–not get back at them.

…that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance      Romans 2:8

How To Not Freak Out

20130829-113208.jpgOh, the guilt after losing our temper with our children. We may have said some harsh words, grabbed a little arm too tightly, muttered a threat between clenched teeth, or spanked in anger. Whatever you did to cause your mean-mommy-guilt, there’s hope through repentance and forgiveness. 

I really appreciate Michelle Duggar’s (mother of 19) advice on not losing it as a parent. Here’s a little video she did on how to not freak out on your kids. 

I always encourage parents never to hesitate to apologize to your kids if you’ve sinned against them. Nothing heals that relationship like a parent humbly asking their child for forgiveness.

 

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.     Colossians 3:8

The Message You Send

Boise Trip-HQ-11If [the father’s] verbal and nonverbal language is saying, “Get away from me,” “Don’t bother me,” “I prefer the companionship of adults,” “I don’t have time for you,” “I think you’re stupid,” “I don’t particularly like you,” “You’re a nuisance,” “I won’t consider your views or feelings,” he will alienate himself from his children and force them to search elsewhere for the comfort and support they need.

Josh McDowell, The Father Connection

Spanking Doesn’t Work With My Child

I appreciate Tedd Tripp’s perspective concerning children who don’t seem to respond to spanking. Here’s his wise and insightful advice for those who would say, “Spanking doesn’t work with my child.”

“This objection requires further examination of a parent’s specific practice. Years of pastoral experience have persuaded me that cases of the rod not working can be summarized as follows:

  1. Inconsistent use of the rod. The child never knew what would elicit a spanking. Therefore, he was always testing the parent.
  2. Failure to persist. Some folks never try anything long enough for it to work. They give the rod a couple of days. Their children are not transformed overnight. They give up in discouragement.
  3. Failure to be effective. I have witnessed spankings ministered through a double layer of diapers to a child who never stopped moving long enough to know he had been spanked. The spanking was ineffective because the parents never made the rod felt.
  4. Doing it in anger. I have always been amazed at the innate sense of justice in a child. children will not yield to correction administered in unholy anger. They inwardly resist submitting their hearts to a parent who bullies them.”

From Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him. Proverbs 22:15

What Do You Allow?

Yellowstone 2011 - Anthony's Pics (31)I often get frustrated and think, “Why are my kids doing this?!” Like when they talk back or argue, talk disrespectfully, or even just jump on the couch. “Don’t they know what they’re doing is not allowed?!” The simple answer is, I’ve allowed it. I let them do it once, or a few times. I’ve allowed it. I let them do it with no consequence whatsoever. In my mind it’s definitely against the rules, but according to my actions, it’s totally permissible.

Before I freak out, I need to reign it in, and think through if I’ve actually taught them not to do that. If I haven’t taken the time to discipline that sort of behavior, then now’s the time to begin.

If I silently disapprove of a behavior for too long, eventually I will explode, resulting in mean-mommy guilt, and a confused and hurt child. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of our children’s behavior. Stay engaged and on top of the situation at hand. Manage the misbehavior as it comes, so that you can constantly be at peace with your child, or presently working towards it.

A Poem For Uptight Mothers Like Me

LOVE

If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place, but have not love- I am a housekeeper, not a homemaker.
If I have time for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements, but have not love- my children learn of cleanliness, not godliness.
Love leaves the dust in search of a child’s laugh.
Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints in a newly cleaned window.
Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk.
Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys.
Love is present through trials.
Love reprimands, reproves, and is responsive.
As a mother there is much I must teach my child, but the greatest of all is… LOVE.

A Love That Multiplies, by Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar

The Opportunity To Sin

IMG_3323One of the most effective strategies of training my children to behave is by allowing them the opportunity to sin.

Especially when I’m busy, I find myself correcting my children, and then taking away their opportunity to sin. “Don’t touch this!” I say, then I take it away and set it on top of the shelf where they couldn’t touch it if they wanted to. It’s immediately convenient for me because I don’t want to have to deal with their disobedience. However, I’m also taking away their opportunity to practice obedience.

When I’m focused on getting stuff done, I remove my children from situations where they can get into mischief. When I’m focused on training them to obey, I let the opportunity for mischief stare them in the face. Because an opportunity to sin is an opportunity to obey. 

As my toddler attempts to topple my pile of freshly folded laundry, I tell him, “Don’t touch…” I don’t redirect his attention. And I don’t remove his temptation to destroy my hard work. I leave it all there right in front of him and wait to see what he will do. He ignores my warning and grabs the pile. He then receives the reproof- a spank on the  hand. I remind him, “Don’t touch…” and I wait. I wait to see if he’ll obey. He goes for my folded pile again, and I spank his hand a second time- a little harder. I’m ready to discipline disobedience, and ready to praise obedience. Each time he grabs the forbidden pile of laundry, he gets spanked. It’s not even about keeping my stuff orderly or completing my tasks anymore. This moment is all about training him to be a good boy, so even if it all ends with laundry strewn about, it’s worth it. Finally, he submits. He sits back in his new-found self-discipline, and leaves my laundry alone. Whew! 

There was no anger. No drama. Just training. Training them to obey by allowing them opportunities to sin.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16

Hitting

IMG_4170[1]Yesterday my one-year old son took a brave swing at a 30-year old man. It wasn’t a cute “Oops, I was just playing, and I didn’t know hitting was wrong.” It was a definite, “You took my laundry basket, and now I will get my revenge by physically assaulting you.”

Occasionally hitting can happen out of curiosity, or by accident. But usually it’s because the child is angry and wants to hurt someone for wronging him. It’s easy to overlook when the blow you endure is delivered by a tiny chubby arm, and hardly felt past the fabric of your pants. But what will take root in his little heart when he gets away with vengeful hitting is violent selfishness, and violent revenge. If allowed to grow, that weed will ruin his life. Just consider any adult you know with those negative characteristics.

We follow this model whenever we see our kids hitting:

  1. Immediate Correction.
  2. Prompt Discipline.
  3. Opportunity for Reconciliation.

As soon as I caught my one-year old attack our house guest, I scooped him up and took him to a private place. There, I firmly corrected him, “We do not hit!” He then received his discipline, a spanking. (There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to spanking, so let me just say that it needs to be hard enough that he feels a quick sting. But not so hard that you’re being mean.) And then came his opportunity for reconciliation. I reaffirm my love and forgiveness for him by hugging and kissing him. After all, it was my rule he was breaking. Then we approach his victim, and I encourage him to apologize for hitting. His vocabulary is limited, so his apology is not much more than offering a hug. But that’s okay because repentance comes from the heart. Not just words.

If you think this whole thing is going a little overboard with a one-year old, consider the social skills, spiritual disciplines, and ability to deal with conflict that you are teaching him at a young age. So young, that he will probably be unable to remember a time where he wasn’t practicing repentance, forgiveness, and self-control.

His trouble shall return upon his own head, And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown.   Psalm 7:16

When [Jesus] was reviled, [He] did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed [Himself] to Him who judges righteously…   1 Peter 2:23

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.   Proverbs 22:6

What Spanking Is Not

If you’ve seen the video of the Texas Judge, William Adams beating his daughter with a belt, you were most likely appalled at this man’s sense of cruel justice. If you haven’t seen it, please be warned that it is a disturbing 7-minute scene of a father relentlessly whipping his 16-year old daughter.

It’s tragic when parents empty their rage upon their children, and then call it a spanking. The Bible is clear that spanking is an effective tool used in disciplining our children. But ‘spanking’ has been so closely attached to child abuse in our culture, that many parents forbid the thought to enter their parenting philosophy.

As a mother who successfully uses spanking in her parenting, I’d like to clarify that spanking is not smacking, intimidating, or abusing. What occurs in the video of the Texas Judge is abuse, not spanking.

Spanking is not a beating.

The number of spanks or swats depend on the severity of the crime. Usually for typical disobedience it will only be one. But if it’s something severe, like maliciously attacking a sibling, it will probably be more. It’s not “losing it” on your child. You should verbalize the number of swats your child will receive so that they know what to expect. They should recognize a consistency when it comes to the number of swats and the severity of the offense.

The point of a spanking is to give a quick sting. If spanking “doesn’t work with your kid,” it’s probably because spankings are given too inconsistently, or because it doesn’t hurt them. By giving them a quick sensation of pain, you are teaching them this message: Sin has negative consequences. They can’t comprehend this at a young age, and that’s why Proverbs says:

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him. Prov. 22:15

The pain should not be severe, as it’s not punishing them for their sin. Christ has already paid for their sin on the cross. It’s just a quick sting, to help correct their thinking; to train their behavior.

Spanking is for small children. Not for teenagers. Hopefully we have enough of our children’s respect that by the time they’re 16, all we need is to have an “I’m disappointed in your behavior” talk.

Spanking is not bullying. 

Don’t intimidate your child into submitting to you. It’s just mean, and they will hate you for it. No one likes it when authority figures to push their power into your face. Don’t “beat them into submission.” Be a humble disciplinary. Don’t spank to control your child’s every action. Spank to help them make good decisions. For their sake, and for the good of their own future.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.  Colossians 3:12 

Spanking is not getting revenge. 

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Romans 12:19

Who’s really going to want to admit that they are seeking revenge when they spank their child? Perhaps it’s revenge for making you so angry, ruining your stuff, or embarrassing you in public. We know revenge has become part of our disciplinary process when we don’t care if the child has learned his lesson. We just want him to pay for what he did.  It’s crucial to realize that it’s not our job to punish them for their sin. We believe all our sin was punished in the body of Jesus. Spanking isn’t payment for the child’s sin. It’s a tool to train their behavior.

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 2:2

Spanking is not for satisfying your anger. 

Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah Psalm 4:4

You’ve had it up to here, and your child still just. won’t. listen. There will always be that temptation to take your anger our on him either verbally or physically. Don’t do it! You will wound your child’s trust in you. If your patience has been exhausted, it’s better to let them get away with it than to angrily punish them.

A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back. Prov. 29:11

A spanking should be given by a patient and calm parent. Would you believe that it can even be done with a smile on your face? Not a smile because they are finally getting what they deserve, but rather, a smile that looks forward to how these little corrections are going to shape them into the responsible, considerate people they will grow to be!

There’s no perfect parent. We’ve all lost our tempers, and done things we regret. If you are thinking that you’ve really screwed up in this area, just say you’re sorry. First to Jesus, and then to your child. I am convinced that the best thing you can do after a mean-mommy moment is to apologize for losing your temper. Their hearts will be healed as they see your remorse and humility.