Disciplining Children

Proverbs 29:17 says, “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” Discipline is a proof of our love and there are many ways to discipline, but every child does not respond the same way to the same discipline. To know which of the following forms of discipline is appropriate for each child requires an understanding of your children and seldom is it appropriate to apply the same discipline to each child all the time.

1.      Communication: Communication is the most common form of discipline. Parents should make a clear statement of their expectations and the consequences for disobedience. A rule should be definable, defensible, and enforceable. Verbal communication after disobedience is a powerful form of discipline. Even parental silence communicates volumes. Knowing they have disappointed their parents can be more painful than a spanking.

2.      Natural Consequences: Allowing children to experience the natural consequences of their disobedience and irresponsible behavior is very effective, especially for strong-willed children. Some children just have to learn the hard way. Rescuing the child from their own mistakes can seriously impede their growth. They need to understand the connection between cause and effect.

3.      Logical consequences: Assigning chores or restricting privileges that are logically connected to the sin or disobedience effectively teaches them to be responsible.

4.      Reinforcement: Reinforcement is catching your children doing something right and rewarding their good behavior. Good behavior that is rewarded is more likely to be repeated.

5.      Extinction: Crying or throwing a temper tantrum can be a way of getting attention. If you just let them have their tantrum; they begin to realize that it isn’t working. The child is training the parent when it works. The wise parent doesn’t honor such manipulative techniques by paying attention to it.

6.      Spanking: The Bible does teach that spanking can be used to distinguish negative behavior. Spanking should not be used for punishment, but for the purpose of shaping future behavior. You don’t spank children to get even; you spank them so they don’t do it again and it should always be done in love using an instrument other than your hand.

Dr. Neil

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