God has blessed us with four children: Spencer (13) Faith (12) Seth (8), and Shane (6).
Naturally with raising four kids comes plenty of discipline, but the nice thing about discipline is that, if you do it right, it tapers off with age. The child in our home who gets the most discipline is most often our youngest, then his older brother, then his older sister, and the person who gets the least amount of discipline is our 13 year old.
That’s not because our older children don’t ever misbehave anymore, but simply because we have lived out this simple principle – “more control now, less control later.”
Why do I discipline my two younger boys who are 6 & 8 quite frequently, but rarely do I have to discipline my 12 and 13 year old? Simply put…
“If you’ll deal with more while they’re younger, you’ll deal with less when they’re older.”
Unfortunately, too many parents get this backwards. They tend to give more leniency in the early childhood years, oftentimes even making excuses for their children and the way that they misbehave. Then they try to pull back the reigns with more control as their child gets older, but much to their disappointment, as they find that it just doesn’t usually work.
Here is some wrong thinking that many parents have when it comes to this:
They’re just kids… they’ll grow out of it.
Sadly, many parents fall into the category of those who mistakenly think that their children will just naturally grow out of these bad bahaviors as they age, but that is just not always the case. Instead of growing out of them, when they go unchecked, we are actually allowing those bad behaviors to develop right under our noses.
“Behavioral issues not dealt with from the start don’t get easier with time, but harder.”
Another type of wrong thinking parents sometimes have is this…
If I let it go… it will keep the peace in our home.
Yes, our kids are so cute and cuddly and “innocent” when they are toddlers and kindergartners, but we must remember that they too are sinners with a sin nature that must be kept in check.
One of the things that I struggle to understand is why parents of my generation are allowing their kids to yell at them, kick them, and defiantly say “no” to them, somehow thinking that they’re “just being kids.” Let’s clarify, they’re just being “sinners”.
Overlooking offenses will not ultimately bring peace into our home, but in the long run, strife and resentment. However, dealing with offenses promptly and consistently will bring both peace and harmony.
Proverbs 19:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
Proverbs 29:17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
If you want a peaceful home for the long haul, follow this principle – more control NOW, less control later. (Here’s some insights on How to Have a Balanced and Biblical Approach to Discipline in the Home)
This third way of wrong thinking can be the most deceptive of all…
I still have plenty of time… I can deal with it later.
Parents, let’s recognize that according to the statistics, we have such a small window of opportunity to influence our child’s early foundational worldview from the ages of 2-5. What they learn about life in those three years will either be a springboard or a stumbling block to their future. So be intentional in your strategy, be firm when necessary, discipline regularly, and pray always. Because everyday that we don’t win the battle over the sin nature, the stronger it becomes.
“What children learn about life between the ages of 2-5 will either be a springboard or a stumbling block to their future.”
I’m thankful that I can (within reason) trust my 11 and 13 year old without having to worry much about them. Yet, they still know that if and when trust is broken, there will be consequences. It’s refreshing as a parent to know that because we’ve instilled character and discipline into them while they were young, we are now reaping the benefits as they continue to grow older.
If our goal is to help our young people grow up to be a mature adults who can make their own decisions, then let’s give them some opportunities to prove they can do it before they get there.
“Training up your children right in the younger years will set you up for parenting success in the older years.”
I’ll be the first to admit that the ages of 2-5 were some of the hardest parenting years we experienced with any of our kids (and boy, do we have some stories to prove it), but looking back now, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m glad that we stuck to our guns when it was tough, and that we won the small battles while they were still small, because now we get to experience the blessing of reaping the benefits.
While we are far from perfect parents, as we’ve seen our children grow, my wife and I have never regretted following this one important principle – more control now, less control later.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
If you have children anywhere between the ages of 2-12 years old, have you been guilty of believing any of these wrong types of thinking? How could you apply this principle now, so that you can reap the benefits later?
Feel free to let me know if you agree, disagree, or have something else to add. I’d also love to hear if you have practiced or proven this principle to be true in your own family.