On Disciplining Kids

To be successful, we have to set clear expectations for our kids to follow. They need to understand that if they participate in a certain kind of misbehavior, they will be punished accordingly. If we don’t follow through with our stated consequences, we begin to relinquish control; when that happens, we sacrifice our normal, and the normal we want to give our kids.

For example, you tell your five-year-old he can’t have dessert if he doesn’t finish his dinner. He doesn’t finish everything, but still asks for dessert, whining, pleading, eyes welling up with tears. You first say no, but then feel your resolve melting as you start to question yourself; ‘Did I put too much on the plate? Did I encourage the effort he did make? He is tired right now, am I expecting too much?’ Next thing you know, you’re setting a bowl of ice cream in front of him, and suddenly gone are the tears and pouts- as well as your control as a parent. The longer you let your children systematically whittle away at your normal, the longer it will take for you to regain control and operate once again within your normal.

While wrestling back control from a 10 year-old may take a while, it could take even longer with a 16 or 17 year-old –so much longer that many parents succumb to the temptation to throw in the towel. As adults, we need to maintain the upper hand in situations that arise with our children. For a variety of reasons, too many parents end up giving control to their children. They may feel guilty about a divorce, or feel a need to be liked by others, prompting them to give in to their kids in hopes of being adored by them. Allowing factors like these to motivate the determination of consequences for disobedience can result in eventual anarchy.

Start bracing yourself early on for the times when your children will be angry or upset with you. Their displeasure won’t be terminal for them, but if you habitually give in to their desires based on fear of their response, you will gradually kill any prospect of them respecting you. The key here is consistency. You need to follow through every time in every situation when you have set up consequences for disobedience. Persevering in the minor scuffles is key to eliminating more serious clashes later on.”

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” –Hebrews 12:11


Blessed are those whose attitudes are shaped by their hopes, not their hurts.

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