Discipline - Part 3

Discipline - The effective equipping of a child by a parent for successful living.

I suppose someone other than a parent can discipline a child but God makes it clear that parents are the ones responsible for it. 

Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
Hebrews 12:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?
Proverbs 19:18  Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death
Deuteronomy 8:5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.
Proverbs 3:12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
Proverbs 29:15 A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.

Lots of things to notice in these verses -
Parents discipline children because they love them.  If we fail to discipline, it's as though we contribute to their death.  (See Proverbs 19:18 again)  Conversely, a parent that's willing to discipline imparts wisdom to the child.  And wisdom is the key to a successful life.  REAL success.

I shared in the earlier post that discipline has four components -

All four components involve "goal".  Which leads to the question - "what is the goal?"

The foundational goal of discipline is to teach the child to obey until they can learn to discipline themselves.  And what is obedience?

Obedience is
Doing what you're told to do
When you're told to do it
With the right heart-attitude

If any of those aspects are awry, it's not obedience.  Doing part of what you're told to do is not obedience.  Delayed obedience is not obedience.  And doing what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it but screaming all the while is not obedience.

Children need to be instructed that obedience is comprised of all these parts.  They must be trained how to include all three.  Set that as your standard of obedience. And set it early.

In our home, the standard is God's Word.  That's what we strive to obey and to have our children obey.  All directives flow from that.  When God's Word is your authority, the child sees that you both are to submit to it.  This prevents a dictatorial approach to parenting.

There are an awful lot of instructions in God's Word so it helps me to simplify things down to what Jesus said  in Matthew 22:37-40 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments

Love God. Love others.  That's what our lives are to look like.  That's the goal for our kids as well.

Instruction - explain what obedience is.  And, yes, they can comprehend this when they are little.  Oh yes they can!  Their little hearts know the difference between putting the toy back in the toy box and throwing it across the room.  They know the difference between waiting a few minutes before responding.  (Note - DO NOT COUNT.  When you tell your child to do something, do not count to 5 or whatever before expecting compliance.  I know AWANA does this but that's helping a large group transition from loud to soft.  Don't do this with your child.  If you do, you are training him/her to wait until #5 to obey.  The goal is immediate obedience.  The reasons should be clear - their life can literally depend on it some day) And their hearts know the difference between lying still for a diaper change and kicking Mommy  in the face.  They know.
Training - explain (more than once) how to do what you are requiring.  Instruction makes it clear what the standard is and training shows how to reach it.  For instance, we required very early that our children speak to people.  To look them in the eyes and speak.  To answer when spoken to, without mumbling.  We set the standard (which did not include "shyness" as a reason not to speak to people)  and then we demonstrated how to do it. Literally, we practiced answering questions (including answering the phone!) and greeting people.  We reminded  the children of the standard before encountering an opportunity to demonstrate obedience and then we expected them to comply.  If they didn't, we refused to excuse them by claiming they were shy (because not speaking to people is rude, not shy).  Instead we might say something to the other person like "we're still working on this" and then lift their precious little face to look at the person.  We didn't belabor the point and make everyone uncomfortable but you can be sure we revisited that moment when we were alone with that child.  After a few training sessions and real life opportunities to put it into practice, we didn't keep training.  It was time for correction.

Correction - Correction should be gentle but decisive.  I will do a whole post on this component of discipline so I won't go into a lot of detail here.  Just to remind us that correction is different than punishment because the purpose is clearly to remove things that hindering the reaching of the goal of obedience.  To reform the wrong actions into the right ones.  If we do a great job of instructing and training, the need for correction is reduced.  But it will not be eliminated.  Kids have the same bent as their parents - to do things their own way!  Our job is to straighten out this bent so that our child will respond in obedience.  Correction of any behavior that falls short of obedience is essential.
Results - The result of discipline is wisdom.  Whether or not the child has responded to your discipline will be evident in his/her life.  (Note:  the response of the child is up to him/her, not the parent.  This is very important!  We parents are so prone to guilt if we perceive the child has not "turned out right" but their response is not up to us.  We are only accountable for parenting, not responding)
If, by God's grace, the child matures into a disciplined adult, the result is oh so very sweet.  Not just for the child, who gains wisdom, but also for the parent.  Oh how sweet it is! 

Last night (I promise I am not making any of this up!!!) I received a phone call from one of my adult children.  In that 10 minute conversation, she thanked me profusely and specifically for the training she received growing up.  She was grateful for being trained to speak to people and honor them, to serve others even at someone else's house, and to be cheerful and friendly even when feelings of insecurity and intimidation threaten to eclipse good manners. She thanked me for spanking her when she didn't do these things!!!!!!!!!!  I am serious!!!  This kid is about to graduate from college with numerous honors to her name, a great job to head to, and the accolades of scores of folks she's shown God's love to through the years.  And she credits her success to her training.

I credit it to God's grace and her response.  And I am on my knees in praise.