5 helpful tips to discipline your children
“It should always be kept in mind that what you are after with your child is not that he should learn obedience but that he should learn how to govern himself.” Author unknown
Discipline is a vague and broad subject for many, and if you asked a hundred people about their view on disciplining children, I’m sure you would get a hundred different answers. In this post, I will deal with five helpful building blocks on this topic. These building blocks strengthen the foundation of your family.
Discipline expresses love
If you love your children, you will care to discipline them appropriately and well. Remember, one of your goals is to protect and grow your relationship with your child all through their youth. When you discipline your children in love, you help guide them into being the person they were made to be. Discipline and discipleship go hand in hand.
All behaviour reflects the condition of our heart
Proverbs 4:23 reminds us to: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” The direction your heart is tuned to is the direction you will go. Teach them that their behaviour reflects the actual condition of their heart. For example, when a child chooses the biggest piece of cake for themselves, they are actually saying that they are more important than the other person. It generally doesn’t come naturally to prefer one another. This is something for training. It’s also important to differentiate between childlike behaviour and foolish/rebellious behaviour. Childlike behaviour is spilling your milk because you just weren’t careful or stumbled – kids mess (a lot). We need to be okay with that. When we discipline children out of our frustration or unrealistic expectations, then we need to re-assess as this can hurt a child’s heart.
Rebellious behaviour is when you instruct your child to sit at the table and drink his milk, and he chooses to disobey you by walking around the house and then spilling its contents. There is a difference. We do not discipline childlike behaviour but rather when they choose to disobey your instructions.
We discipline our children with corrective actions and wise words
In an excerpt from my book, Parenting with Courage, I write the following: “The word, ‘discipline’ refers to actions, while the words ‘corrects’ refers to words of rebuke. As parents, that’s exactly how we are to discipline. We bring both words and actions with warnings and consequences in our children’s lives to keep them on course.” Words have the power to release and bring joy or to bring harm. Choose your words wisely and carefully.
Parents need to be consistent
Consistency brings stability and freedom in your children’s lives. Let them grow up knowing that your yes is your yes and that your no is your no. They don’t need to guess or feel insecure wondering how you will act based on your mood on any given day. The rules in your home shouldn’t be more strict because you’re tired or frustrated. Conversely, they shouldn’t be more lenient because you are having a great day.
Discipline is not punishment
This is a crucial point – discipline is not punishment but rather training for correction and maturity. We discipline our children with a heart of compassion and understanding. Punishment implies that our kids are getting what they deserve. It is past tense focused while discipline is future-focused and points toward redemption. It maintains a relationship, and it builds on love.