“Discipline sounds hard.  I’m not sure what to do.”  Do these thoughts sound familiar?  We show love to our children through disciplining them well.  But how do you actually do it?

Discipline well through the ages and stages

What age is your child at? In my book, Parenting with Courage, I speak into the ages and stages a child goes through. Based on the age your child is at, the parenting stage you are going through, you adapt your style of discipline accordingly. For example, when your toddler wants to stick his finger into an electric socket for the third time, you don’t sit him down and explain why the consequences for this action are dangerous to his well-being.   You command him with a firm ‘no’ and remove him from the wall socket.  You speak and he obeys.  During this stage of life, you are a like a commander-in-chief.  You are not his best friend or coach.  You are teaching your child to obey your instructions. 

As your child matures (and so do you), you move into different roles.  When your teenager doesn’t clean her room before going to a party according to your agreement, you have to stand strong and allow the natural consequences to follow.  It could be that she doesn’t go out before she’s cleaned her room.  Consistency to follow through is key at this stage. Actually it’s important from when your child is born.  When you coach your teen through life, you let them experience the consequences for their actions.  You see, the style of discipline is different.  We, as parents, have to intentionally adapt the way we discipline as our children grow.

Authority vs Influence in disciplining children

Authority vs influence are aspects that affect your relationship with your children.  When your child is young, your authority over their lives is high.  However, your ability to influence them is just about zero.  You wouldn’t talk to a baby and encourage him to let you change his nappy because the smells emitting from his rear end are just too awful.  You would just lay him down and change his nappy.  Your goal through the parenting journey is to raise your child into a healthy adult who still has a great relationship with you and would listen to your advice because of the influence you exert in his life.  Not out of duty, but by choice and because of relationship.

Choices & consequences

In life, we all experience natural consequences for our actions.  This could mean that if you don’t put sunblock on, you could get sunburnt after surfing all day.  These are natural consequences for our actions.  There are times when we need to let our children experience these natural consequences.  This could mean that they could get a lower mark for a test because your teen didn’t manage their time well (again). 

A second type of consequence is a logical one.  These logical consequences are those set by your child/teenager and are agreed upon together.  For example, together you agree upon a curfew times and a consequence if this is not adhered to.  Some parents even sign an agreement together with their teen and when these are not adhered to they simply bring this document out.  No arguments because the teen has agreed to these terms in advance, even setting her own terms out.  

From my previous blog article, 5 inspiring tips to discipline your children, I explain that discipline is like discipleship and training for future benefit.  It is not punishment but always relationship focused.  With logical consequences you are training your child to take responsibility for his actions.  This is of great benefit for them later in life.

Pick your battles

You cannot win every battle if you are to win the war. I would urge you to discuss with your spouse which battles are important to fight and which ones you can let go.  You don’t want your home to be a war-zone but rather a haven for the whole family.  Have a look at your family values and discuss which ones are crucial to your family’s well-being.  When you look at disciplining your children, consider what kind of adult you want your child to be one day, then head in that direction.  

Let your children know that you love them, you celebrate them and that you will discipline them because of your love for them.Parenting With Courage book








Photo’s of children and teens courtesy of Unsplash

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