What does discipline mean to you? It is often misinterpreted to mean punishment, when in reality, it means teaching. We are God’s children. God, as our Father, disciplines us. He teaches us how He wants us to behave- lovingly, as He modeled to us in sending His own Son to die for us (John 3:16). Throughout Scripture, we find examples of God correcting His children or issuing warnings for “bad” behavior that, if left unchecked, would destroy individuals, families, and nations.
As parents, it is in our job duties to correct behavior that has potential to be destructive to any area of our children’s futures. It is our responsibility to teach them Biblical principles and we have the opportunity to do that on a daily basis. You may not realize that when you enforce the boundaries in your home (“You may throw the ball outside, not in the house.”), you are doing much more than simply protecting your breakables.
As you give your children boundaries, you are teaching them about meeting expectations and following instructions. When your children follow your instructions without backtalk, it is much easier to keep them safe from harm. For example, if you tell your children, “Stay in the yard away from the road,” it is important for them to be in the habit of listening.
For this week, I would like to share with you some information I often provide to my clients.
Tips for Effective Discipline
1. Once you have your child’s attention, give instruction clearly and firmly.
2. If your child does not follow instructions, give ONE warning (Time Out, removal of privilege, etc.)
3. If your child still does not follow through, issue consequence warned.
1. Come to your child’s Eye Level
2. Tell your child, “You are going to Time Out because …” State the reason in 10 words or less, no lectures please! Example: “You are going to Time Out because you did not listen to Mommy.”
3. Take the child by the hand and lead them to Time Out, telling him/her, “You are going to sit here for __ minutes. I will tell you when you can get up.” (suggested: 1 minute per year of age, time starts when child is seated)
4. If child gets up, pick him up and sit him back in Time Out – No words, No eye contact. Continue this as long as your child gets out of Time Out… it’s exhausting but worth it in the end! If you give up now, all energy and efforts to this point are wasted!
5. When time is up, return to your child and restate why they were in Time Out (no questions please)
6. Your choice whether you want to ask for an apology or not
Follow through EVERY TIME or it won’t be effective!!
God is a firm, consistent Father who provides discipline for our benefit. Have you ever been in a spiritual Time Out?
What discipline challenges do you face?
Keri Kitchen is a devoted wife and mother, volunteer youth pastor, and licensed mental health counselor. To read more about what God is doing in her life, visit her blog at www.aftertherainn.com.