(Whether a parent yourself, or a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a neighbor, a teacher, a scout leader, or whatever your role in the lives of the children around you, this important series will give you valuable tips on how to influence those kids for the Lord! To access the entire “Bringing up Kids God’s Way” mini-series, please click here.)
When most of you started reading this series, you may have been surprised that I didn’t put this topic in first. You may have figured it would appear second, or third, or maybe as low on the list as fourth! But certainly not in Part 12 of a 14 part series!
So why have I made this part 12 of a 14 part series? Is it because it isn’t important?
No. Absolutely not. Disciplining your child is one of the most important things you, as a parent or caregiver, can do. Remember the words of the world’s wisest man, Solomon? “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” (Prov 13:24 NIV
Discipline is vitally important for the following reasons:
1. It teaches children the concept of right and wrong. If they are never disciplined, kids will never learn when their behaviour is unacceptable. They will never learn the difference between right and wrong.
2. It teaches boundaries. Children who are not disciplined will never learn there are boundaries that must not be crossed. And if they never learn the concept of boundaries, they will never learn to set boundaries in their own lives!
3. It teaches a respect for authority. If your kids always get their way with you, they will learn that they are the “big boss”, that they are the ones in control. It will become very difficult for them to accept other authority figures, such as teachers, pastors, even authorities of the law.
4. It teaches them to accept God’s discipline. And God does discipline us! We are told to welcome God’s discipline, but we will never be able to do so if we have never learned the concept of discipline!
5. It allows for discipline in schools. Without the concept of discipline being established at home, it is very difficult to have a disciplined classroom, which is a prerequisite for learning.
6. It teaches them good social skills. No one likes to be with someone who always insists on their own way.
7. It helps them to develop good habits. No concept of discipline makes temperance an impossible thing to learn. It leads to children who have no boundaries, children who easily fall into the traps of poor eating habits, poor personal hygiene, and the more deadly traps of drugs, alcohol and sex.
8. It helps them learn good decision making skills. You can’t guide those kids into good decision making if what they say is the law, if they have no respect for your authority.
9. It sets the ground work for a mature, Godly adult. Remember, an undisciplined child grows up to be an undisciplined adult!
Again in the words of the world’s wisest man: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” (Prov 22:15 NIV)
So if discipline is so important, did I put it near the end because I figured everyone knows about discipline already?
Certainly not. In our day and age, discipline in families is on the decline. Instead of parents being the “big boss”, more and more children rule their homes. My husband, who has been teaching elementary school for the past 20 years, finds that as a group, his students no longer have any concept of discipline. This impacts all areas of their lives, from the classroom, to their social interactions, to their developing habits, to their decision making, and to their future lives.
Okay, then why DID I reserve this important topic for near the end of such a long series?
Simply this: Because discipline can only be effective if the previous things we’ve covered in this series are in place! In order to discipline effectively:
1. You, yourself, must know the Lord. If don’t know the Lord, you cannot turn to Him for wisdom in discipline.
2. You must be in the habit of praying for that child. If you don’t seek God’s guidance through prayer, your discipline will lack wisdom and divine leading. It will be much less effective!
3. Your child needs to know the Lord. If not, he or she is likely to look at disciple as a bunch of rules from parents who are trying to control them.
4. You need to have a good relationship with your kids. If you don’t, then your attempts at discipline will be perceived as trying to control them.
5. You need to be in the habit of showing affection to those kids. If not, then what usually happens is that the only attention they get is when they are disciplined. This creates the scenario where a child will act out just to get your attention!
6. Finally, you need to be in the habit of explaining yourself. If you always say “no” to a child, without explanation, then your discipline will be received as nothing other than “nagging”. It will not be taken seriously.
Only with these prerequisites firmly in place can you hope for your disciple to be effective.
But there are other important considerations as well for administering effective discipline, things such as “how”, “when”, and “in what spirit” you discipline. I’ve divided these up into a list of “Do”s and “Don’t”s that I have found to be useful in my home, and these will be the topic of upcoming devotionals.
Please join us next week for Bringing up Kids God’s Way, Part 12B: The “Don’t”s of Discipline!
God bless each of you abundantly as you seek to guide the kids in your life in the ways of the Lord!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, www.scripturalnuggets.org , a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .
(To access the entire “Bringing up Kids God’s Way” mini-series, please click here.)