As a parent, one of the most important and often difficult facets is disciplining. Most of us have seen the result of an undisciplined child, such as a screaming kid lying on the floor of the grocery store because his parent won’t give him the item he wants to buy. It’s also a facet we tend to avoid because we naturally love our children and don’t want to appear to be denying that love.
An interesting Biblical verse is Proverbs 29:17, “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” What’s interesting is that this verse points that not only do we need to discipline our children when needed but the result promises to bring us delight. At the same time, I would add that how this disciplining is done should not be neglected as well.
From my experience as a child, parent and teacher, I have found the following principles help in effective disciplining:
1. Tell the child in advance what your expectations are and what are the consequences. Children will often “test” you if you have said nothing about what you expect. However, telling what is important and what will result from bad behavior prevents testing from being necessary. For example, my father told me something that would never be allowed would be to hit my sister. That would result in my receiving a spanking. That got my attention and worked.
2. Have the consequence “fit the crime.” A spanking need not be the punishment for everything a child does wrong.The consequence may very well be a “time out” or the loss of a privilege.
3. The consequence should “fit the child.” Know your child and what would most appropriately fit him or her based upon his or her personality and interests. The age of the child is important to consider. You shouldn’t discipline a teenager in the same way you would a young child.
Finally, consider why you are disciplining. The reason should be more about the child than about you. Basically this should be an act of love. While it’s true that it can be frustrating to see your child misbehaving, why you are doing this most importantly is helping to shape his or her character for the future. A well-disciplined child will be more likely to study hard for his or her school lessons, not be late to work, and more successful in his or her marriage. As you see your child succeeding in life, that will be for you “delight to your soul.”