Discipline can be discipleship

“My seven-year old is struggling with anger and is fighting with everyone, even at school.”  My teenager keeps on telling me:  “‘You doesn’t like me, you only like my baby brother’ and then she uses that to manipulate me into doing what she wants.”  “My child will not listen to me in public.”  Do any of these sound familiar?  One of the questions that I receive most often is how do I discipline my children?

Ok, so take a deep breath.

If you are wondering how to discipline your children, you are in good company.  Most parents out there have that same question and I know I have asked it as well.

There is no easy answer and right off pat, you should realise that it starts with you.  You are a 24/7 parent and when you understand how you were parented and ways that you discipline your children, you are on the journey to learning to discipline well. 

You won’t catch measles if I have mumps

This means that you will reproduce who you are in your children. Children learn primarily through imitation and you are their prime example.  If you are an angry person, you are unknowingly teaching your children that anger is ok.  If you lie in small areas, you are teaching your children that telling untruths is acceptable.  It’s not true that your child won’t pick up on your language, mannerisms and attitudes. Think about what you would like your children to ‘catch’. Then, live that out.

But, wait a minute!

That’s quite heavy, you think.  Well, being a mom or a dad is a responsibility and equally so, a joy.  You didn’t have much of a say about your child’s personality, strengths and weaknesses, but you do have a say how you are going to raise him/her.  There is absolutely no pressure for you to be the perfect parent.  There are no perfect families and there are no perfect children.   There are, however, a few principles that you can apply in your home during those years that your kids are under your roof:

Number One:  Accept that you and your children will make mistakes.

I have made so many mistakes over the years.  Some, I’d rather forget.  I need to be kind towards myself and my kids when I make mistakes.  Give room to learn and to make right.  Part of raising a healthy person is teaching them to take responsibility for their actions and allow the consequences to play out.  Obviously, age appropriate consequences.  Allow your children to ‘fail forward’ and to not be scared of making mistakes.  This is fertile ground for learning.

Number Two:  Learn to ask for and give forgiveness.

When we model forgiveness for our children, we teach them to extend forgiveness too.  This is a powerful life lesson.  Be quick to say you are sorry and be specific.  You will not only earn your children’s trust but you will show love too.  When we forgive and extend forgiveness, we live lightly.  Teach your children to forgive by showing them how.  Role play if you must.

Number Three:  Up-skill yourself 

Children thrive in a home where their parents are consistent.  No child should grow up in a completely permissive environment.  During their formative years, you, the parent, are externalizing your values so that they can internalize them later on in life.  Part of that is establishing what is acceptable or not in your home.  All behaviour stems from what is going on in one’s heart, and your child, is no exception.  They kick and scream because they want their own way.  They try to manipulate one parent against the other, because, they want their own way.  Don’t we all generally want our own way.  In my next post I will share practical tips on disciplining your child.

Image courtesy of Unsplash: Bekah Russom
Number 4:  Discipline and discipleship are linked

Every conversation with your child is an opportunity for discipleship.  You are the key influencer in your child’s life;  moms and dads are given that privilege.  The Latin root of the word, discipline, is ‘disciplina’ meaning teaching or instruction.  But, ‘disciplina’ is derived from the Latin word, ‘discipulus’ which gives us the English word disciple. Therefore, as a parent, when you instruct your children and with love and compassion, you will need to discipline then.  

So what if we changed our perspective and started to look at discipline as discipling? It changes the focus. It becomes less about punishment and anger and more on correction and guidance. What a blessing for our children when we discipline in love, according to God’s perfect wisdom!  

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