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The foundation of discipline

February 26th, 2008 / 6 Comments

family timeThis is the second article in the series on Discipline.

Honestly, no one likes to be disciplined, isn’t that right? Whether you are an adult being disciplined by the law or by your boss, or you are a child disciplined by a teacher or by a parent, it’s definitely no fun.

Does the source of discipline matter? Consider yourself being disciplined by a stranger, who is only interested in eliciting certain behavior from you, someone who doesn’t really care about your well-being. How well would you respond? Now consider being disciplined by someone you trust, someone who has your best interest at heart. Within a loving context, aren’t you probably more likely to be cooperative?

So it is with our children. As I said in my previous article on discipline, the job of the parent is to disciple our children. The foundation of discipleship is a loving relationship. The picture of Jesus discipling his followers is a familiar one. Jesus taught his disciples through a loving relationship with them, teaching them by his example as well as his words. Effective discipline is not a set of methods, but rather it is a part of a relationship.
At this point, you are probably thinking, “Well, of course every parent loves his children. Of course discipline from a parent is always out of love.”

But the question is, does your child perceive it that way? Do you know any adults who say they never felt loved by their parents? Do you know any adults who tell you they’ve never heard their mom or dad say to them “I love you”? I hear that quite often. I know many teenagers resent their parent’s discipline because they say, “My parents don’t care about me. They just don’t want me to embarrass them.”

A parent may very well love his children immensely, but he has to show it in ways that is perceived and understood by the children.

Here are 3 suggestions to show your love to your children alongside our disciplining. If you are a step-parent, this is especially important.

1. Spend time with your children.

This seems too obvious, but you’ll be surprise at how much anger I hear from children who are disciplined by parents who spend little time with them. When my husband comes home from work, he only has about three hours with our kids before they go to bed. The last thing I want him to do is to talk to them about their bad grade at school. The short time could be better spent on positive time together. I do not want my kids to grow up with the image of a strict and cold father. Since I am have plenty of time to spend with our kids during the day, I prefer to be the bad guy.

2. Affirm your love often.

When my son was in his first year of middle school in the 6th grade, he would come home quiet and moody. I responded like a drill sergeant to get him to do his homework, clean his room, etc., etc. One day he said to me, “Mom, you always see the things I do wrong. You never say anything when I do something right.”

I was floored! I was so convicted! My son was absolutely right. In trying to get him to do the right things, I neglected to show him tenderness. I am so thankful he was honest with me and showed me the error of my ways.

When our children are little, we hug them, kiss them, and say all kinds of lovey-dovey words. As they get older, even into the teen years, our children need to hear and see our expressions of love more and more. There is plenty of negativism and peer rejection at school all day. How much more they need our affirmation when they come home. Don’t be shy about hugging your teenagers and saying “I love you.” They need to hear it.

3. Say “Yes” as much as possible.

When my daughter was in 5th grade, she wanted to hang out with her friends at the mall. At that age, I wasn’t about to let her go without my supervision. I wanted to say, “No you can’t go.” I happen to hate the mall; I don’t enjoy shopping. I’d rather be anywhere else but the mall. But what can I do? I took my daughter there to meet her friends, brought a book, and sat at the mall to read for several hours.

When we make special considerations to say “Yes” to their requests as much as possible (within reason), we’ve earned the right to say “No” to them on the things that really count.

No one really likes to be disciplined. But if your children know you are on their side, they are more likely to respect and obey you.

Read the previous article on Discipline:

It’s not always about discipline

Photo by merfam

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  1. Your first two suggestions really do go hand in hand. How you spend time with your kids and how you show them love is so important. We really need to find the right balance of discipline and love. It’s so easy to forget that they look to us in formulating a “world-view” from a very early age and we are their role models.

    I’ve often heard and seen misbehaving kids and kids with values that seem out of whack to me. Makes me wonder how they developed into “little monsters”.

    Then you see the extreme case of the doting parents spoiling their one and only “golden” child, making the kid the center of their universe … until the poor kid comes to believe they really are the center of everyone’s universe. Once you see this, it all falls into place.

  2. Insight comment, Michael.

  3. […] The Foundation of Dicipline […]

  4. […] The Foundation of Discipline […]

  5. on comment 1) i have to ask the question, “…is your husband viewed by the child(ren) as the “good guy” who never addresses the “negative” aspect of the child’s life? 2) i agree that we must include love and affection when disciplining our children. often times we punish the rebellion without reminding them that we still love them. 3)i find that the more we say yes to our 2.5 y/o the more she expects us to say yes. when we say no, she goes into a tantrum and does not how to “take no for an answer”. on the other hand, i do understand that saying “no” to 9 out of 10 things is the other extreme. i think that it would be prudent to say yes when it is reasonable, not harmful and will somehow benefit the well-being of our child. i’m trying to teach our daughter that the world does not revolve around her and that she does not always get it “her way”.

  6. Spedrunr, great comments.
    No one actually likes to “take no for an answer.” 🙂 I don’t blame daughter for trying to get her way with a tantrum. From her point of view, hey, it’s worth a try! She’s got spunk!

    As long as you stand firm on a decision that was well made, your child will eventually respect you.

    I think sometimes it’s too easy for parents to say no to our kids based on our own convenience or personal preference. It would be better to say NO on those issues that really matter. Then if your child throws a tantrum, so be it. But she will eventually understand and respect you for it. But a child will eventually lose respect for a parent who says no or even yes, inconsistently or with no thought behind the decision.


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