In our class (Growing Kids God’s Way) we talked about how we are to give admonishment when a child needs correction that stems from his childish behaviours, and the 4 tools of correction for behaviours that stem from foolishness.
Childish behaviours in this sense are related to mistakes or accidents that a child commits, but without the presence of evil motives or malicious intent.
In order to differentiate the motivation, parents need to STOP, THINK, PRAY and ACT to know what is the cause of their behaviour – as we need the wisdom to know these internal issues of the heart…since the very same offence committed by a 3 year old and a 7 year old may stem from very different reasoning.
It is within this context that we as parents can avoid the sin of under punishing or over punishing our children. We as parents need to also understand the power of providing a way of escape when the temptations to sin are too overwhelming for our children, lest we fall into the danger of legalism.
Remember that before we apply a consequence, we need to determine:
- the frequency of the offence
- the age of the child
- the context of the moment
- the characterisation of the behaviour
And we need to also bear in mind that we are still faithfully applying these basic principles in our home. Without all the healthy ligaments that make for a loving, positive, cohesive atmosphere at home, our discipline would not be as effective. Moms Notes Vol 3 (Finding the Balance in Biblical Parenting) talks about these fundamentals:
- Are you demonstrating the priority of the husband wife relationship? (Are you frequently touching your spouse affectionately in front of the children and showing that you enjoy each other’s companies, and seeing you resolving conflicts amicably, walking your talk and going on dates without them?)
- Are you consistently practicing couch time during your family time? (Remember how important it is to train your children to respect these non negotiable times between mum and dad and to learn to play contentedly knowing that mum and dad’s relationship are strong and secure)
- Are you meeting your child’s love language need? (Remember that no amount of discipline is effective enough if your child’s emotional needs are not being met. We talk about skin hunger and the importance of verbal and physical encouragement. No child will ever have enough of their parents’ lavish love)
- How are you doing at building family identity? (Remember that peer pressure is only as strong as family identity is weak. Do you work hard at building your family identity and is dad taking the lead in creating the unique blue print for your family? Spending time together as a family is more than just watching a movie together, the goal is to create heart connectedness to each other that set them apart from other individuals/friends).
- Do you have appropriate structure in your day? (Don’t underestimate the value of a good structure and routine as children thrive on it and many discipline problems will disappear if you have a good structure attached to training goals in your family’s day)
- Do you encourage your children? (How do you work on enhancing your children’s natural skill, talent, gifts and abilities and are you consistent and systematic about rewarding them for their good behaviour. Remember to differentiate rewarding from bribing).
- Are you defining the difference between childishness and foolishness? (To know the difference, keep it simple. Ask yourself “Have I given instruction prior regarding the behaviour prior to the situation? This is what is meant by laying the boundary – if you are unsure yourself then you have to deal with it as childishness. Sit your child down and clearly instruct him. Next time he does it again, treat it as foolishness. Treat foolishness as sin.)
- Are your children characterised by first time obedience? (Remember that this is the fulcrum on which your other training effectiveness hangs. Parents are encouraged to keep working and maintaining FTO obedience until 90% obedience – 9 out of 10 instruction given is complied with FTO. You can lose FTO quickly if you don’t maintain it.)
- Do your children follow through with repentance forgiveness restoration? (We will cover this in the future posts)
- Are you considering context? (Mom’s Notes explain that context explains behaviour, but does not excuse it. If you are characterised by using ‘context’ to frequently explain your child’s behaviour, then perhaps you need to re evaluate your consistency in discipline, your daily routine etc. On the other hand if you tend towards legalism, then you need to consider context more frequently as context brings balance.When considering context you need to remember that the standard in and of itself DOES NOT change)
- Do you require them to do what you are not asking of yourself? (Are you having double standard on your own part that breeds lack of trust from your children? Are you morally contradicting what you are preaching? Or are you complementing your parental instruction with strong parental example?)
Childishness = honest mistakes; unintentional; no ill intent. Correcting childish behaviour begins with ADMONISHMENT (warning the child that the action or lack of action is unwise and that it may bring calamity upon himself or others). Sometimes some mistakes bypass the warning stage and require immediate consequences. These are related consequences that are both natural and logical in nature and are usually related to PROPERTY, PRIVILEGE and PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.
Parents can help structure related consequences that deal with stewardship training over property, responsibility with privilege and making restitution a part of personal responsibility training.
Foolishness = wilful, intentional defiance, open rebellion. Folly – deception, trickery, disobedience, lacking in wisdom or rebellion
How are we to deal with Foolishness?
(Need not be repeated everyday. Remember you would not punish a child for a single infraction if he is normally characterised by immediate compliance…ie you need not go to the full weight of punishment but the fair weight of justice).
- Warning + ACTION
(Action here means a swat on a hand or on the bottom and a general rebuke – this is to catch their attention. This is the place to use reflective time out)
3. Consequential punishment
(Natural Consequence, Logical Consequence, Isolation and Chastisement).
Natural Consquences are natural and defiant acts that will sometime produce their own pain as the natural outcome of foolish behaviour. (GKGW, pg 159).
An example from Mom’s Notes…
Mom tells her son not to run on the sidewalk. He runs, falls and scrapes his kness. He cries. This is a natural consequence. The fall produces its own pain. Take this opportunity to explain – “I am sorry that your knee hurts. (hug) Now you can see why Mum told you not to run on the sidewalk. What are you going to do the next time you want to run on the sidewalk again?” No additional consequences for disobeying is needed.
Natural consequences are effective only if parents allow the child to ‘feel the pain’.
When a child misuses something, the logical consequence would be he losses the freedom of using it. If he didn’t do his chores because he was watching TV, he loses the freedom of watching tv. I hope this helps clarify some of the issues you may be thinking through in the issue of discipling your child with correction