Many years ago, when one of our children was little, we stopped by Sonic. As I looked in my passenger side mirror checking on the children, this unnamed child was picking their nose and then putting their finger in their mouth. GROSS!
I quickly blurted out, “Don’t do that! It will make you sick!”
The child replied, “It didn’t when I did it last week!”
Now you tell me – what would you have said in response to that???!!
I don’t really recall what I said because the reply shocked my husband and I so much! We were both trying not to laugh, but I’m pretty sure I explained to my child that germs can sometimes make you sick and that sometimes they don’t, but that it was still yucky, anyway.
I thought about discipline in a different way after that episode. Sometimes we blurt out demands or consequences, but we don’t really think about what we’re saying. Could that have made the child sick? Sure it could have, but it isn’t definitely going to make them sick. If so, I think toddlers might constantly be sick all over the world!
Another time I put one of our children (our first child – our only daughter) on the “naughty chair”. She was little and I thought maybe I’d trying this time out stuff and just see how it worked. Well, it didn’t. When my husband got home, I told our daughter to tell her daddy what she had done. Instead of telling him about her disobedience, she blurted out with great excitement, “Daddy, I got to sit on the naughty chair!!!” Her excitement proved to me, early on, that time out didn’t work for discipline. I’m still convinced it doesn’t, but maybe it has with some, so you might disagree and that’s perfectly okay, of course!
Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. – Proverbs 1:8
These episodes taught me a few lessons about discipline:
1. Discipline has to be fair.
The punishment should fit the “crime”. As a parent, it’s easy to let our emotions get out of control and over or under punish. Neither extreme is good for the child – or for the parent.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4
[Tweet “As a parent, it’s easy to let our emotions get out of control and over or under punish.”]
2. Discipline has to be used as a teaching moment.
The word discipline means to train. As a parent, that is your God-given job and obligation. It is your responsibility to train your child in the right way. Part of that training is teaching them right from wrong and giving appropriate consequences for continuing to do wrong.
Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6
3. Discipline has to be consistent.
The worst thing a parent can do is to be inconsistent. Being inconsistent undermines all previous discipline and sets the child up to misbehave. Parenting is hard work, but it’s a lot less hard when the discipline is consistent.
It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself if his conduct is pure and right. – Proverbs 20:11
[Tweet “The worst thing a parent can do is to be inconsistent.”]
4. Discipline has to be done in love – always.
No matter how you choose to discipline your child/children, it must be done in love. Not disciplining a child, in my opinion, is just as much child neglect as not feeding them or clothing them. And, of course, over-disciplining them to the point of physically abusing them is the other extreme. Both extremes are harmful to the child.
He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently. Proverbs 13:4
[Tweet “Not disciplining a child is just as much child neglect as not feeding them or clothing them.”]
5. Discipline should begin early.
This lesson was first told to me by my brother-in-law when we were expecting our first child. I remember that our first child was about 9 months old when she began trying to exercise her own “free will”. From that moment on, discipline began early with each of our children when it became evident that they needed it.
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness .All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. – Hebrews 12:7-11
6. Realize that each child is unique.
What a blessing to know that God created each of our little blessings so unique! He knit them together within the womb! What a wonderful thought! My four children have all been so very different and unique. Each required us to discipline a little differently, respond to them a little differently, and react to situations a little differently.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully
Lori Waugh is a stay-at-home wife and mother from Tipton, Oklahoma. She is has been married to Joe for 28 years and they have four children. The Waugh’s worship with the Tipton Church of Christ, where Joe serves as a deacon. Lori enjoys teaching ladies’ Bible class, speaking at ladies’ days and retreats, and organizing ladies’ events and volunteering her time for Quartz Mountain Christian Camp (QMCC) the week her husband and son serve as directors and the annual fall ladies’ retreat. Lori writes a devotional/family blog (Shine Like Stars: www.weewaughs.blogspot.