Last week, I wrote about 3 Reasons I Still Practice Biblical Discipline With My Kids. I’d encourage you to read it if you haven’t already, as it lays the foundation that this post builds on.
The purpose of this article is to lay the groundwork for some practical and proven principles that will help make your discipline more effective. While these are not “chapter and verse” principles, they are guiding principles that have been found helpful to ensure that when discipline in enforced, it’s done with a balanced, yet biblical approach. These principles represent well the character of God as seen in the Scriptures to help you parent as effectively as possible.
Here are the 5 C’s (to help you better remember them) of a balanced and biblical approach to discipline in the home…
A discipline approach that is both balanced and biblical needs to be:
A parent must never discipline out of anger. If you are angry with your children, you are not in a position to be administering discipline. Period. This is in the best interest of both you and your child.
There may be times as a parent when you need to wait to discipline your children so that you can calm yourself and your emotions down before dealing with them. Because in the heat of the moment, your tendency would be to discipline them out of frustration rather than solely out of love.
Remember that if you discipline out of anger, your children will know it, and they will have a right to be scared of you. You want your children to have a healthy fear of you as their parental authority, but you never want for them to be afraid of you because you are angry.
If your child ever feels that the motivation for you disciplining them is anything other than love, you have just negated the real purpose of disciplining them in the first place. No discipline should ever be done as a form of revenge for bad behavior, retaliation for embarrassment, or an avenue for venting frustration.
If you ever question your own motives in the heat of the moment – Stop! Wait. Then proceed only when your heart is right and your motives are pure.
Anger is never an effective approach. A calm approach is an effective approach.
If you’ve been a parent for very long at all, you’ve probably already found that nothing will destroy your efforts as quickly as a lack of consistency. Decide in advance what you’re going to discipline for, and the extent to which your going to discipline, and then stick to it.
If children are disciplined one day for something but not disciplined for it the next, they may very well learn to take their chances. However, when rules and expectations are enforced with consistency, life goes smoother for everyone involved, because the kids know what’s to be expected and the parents know what’s to be enforced.
God designed all of us, including our children, with the need for structure and predictability. Our kids need to be able to bank on our expectations, our enforcement of those expectations, and our consistent mood and approach with which we enforce them.
Nothing frustrates me more than seeing a parent dragging a kid out of a room with one hand while trying to spank them repeatedly with the other. Effective discipline is not a “fly off the handle” response to every little thing your child does that annoys you. There needs to be a calm response that is consistent in the way it is handled and controlled in the way it is enforced.
What does controlled discipline look like?…
- A prepared composure as a parent. Don’t feel bad sending your child to their room until you can gain your composure as a parent to discipline them biblically. You can’t afford to fly off the handle, as that will work against the very purpose of what you’re trying to accomplish – disciplining out of love.
- A predetermined number of swats. Don’t just spank until you feel better, or until you think they’ve ‘had enough.’ Have a predetermined amount of swats based on the seriousness of the infraction and the age of the child, so that you know in advance what’s ‘enough’.
- A proper tool for spanking. The Bible refers to the proper tool as being “a rod.” We’ve found that a wooden spoon or a thin board works well. I would strongly discourage you from using your hand or even using a belt. Your hands are to be a symbol of your love, and a belt is the equivalent of a whip. But a rod can be easily and consistently controlled.
When your tempted to give your kids more than is necessary, remind yourself that the purpose of discipline is to break their will without breaking their spirit. That happens when there is much consistency, much control, and much love.
4. COGNIZANT (aware of)
From time to time before I spank one of our children, I will hand the paddle to my wife and ask her to give me a swat or two as hard as she would if she were spanking one of our kids. For me, it’s a good and necessary reminder of how painful my discipline is.
I don’t want to just take for granted that I still remember how much it hurt to get a spanking as a child. I want to be aware of what I’m responsible to apply, because if I truly want to discipline with balance and justice, it’s hard to do that without knowing the severity of the discipline I’m using. (So, if you haven’t spanked your spouse in a while, maybe it’s about time. 🙂 It may be good for both you and for your kids.)
The main motive of discipline is to love your child through correction, and when that is the case:
- Discipline will not be done out of anger, but out of love.
- Discipline will not be done to punish, but to correct.
- Discipline will not be about making them suffer for doing wrong, but about teaching them how to choose right.
Discipline that is both balanced and biblical is always done with your child’s best interest in mind, not your frustration to be vented. And when it is done this way, it truly is an act of compassion.
Times of discipline should always end on a positive note, with prayers, hugs, and confirmation of your love for each other. This needs to be an intentional time of apology, acceptance, and restoring of the relationship.
And when discipline is done with such love and compassion, some of the sweetest times between parent and child can be experienced in those moments. They are precious moments. They are bonding moments. They are life-giving as well as life-changing moments in time.
When it comes to disciplining your children, you can’t afford to get it wrong. And you equally can’t afford to just wing it. You’ve got to have a detailed plan, and hopefully these practical tips will help guide you to do just that.
I’d welcome your thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Or have something to add to the list? You can share your thoughts by leaving a comment.