I have had more trouble with this post than anything I've ever written! I spent forever on it and then apparently hit something wrong and it disappeared without my knowing it. Then I rewrote it and somehow it published before I was through. I have no idea why it was so hard to write but here it is and I hope it is helpful. :) Blessings!!
Correction. A vital component in the discipline part of the parenting machine. It's so very vital and so very important to get it right. As right as we possibly can. Correction is the tool to modify behavior. It's how we remove hindrances to the goal. By correction, we strive to eliminate harmful acts and attitudes, as well as put in place the desirable ones. Correction is not punishment.
The foundation of correction is a heart check of the parent. Scripture makes it very clear that we are to assess ourselves before correcting someone else. Matthew 7:3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? and Galatians 6:1 if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
First, remember instruction has to be clear. Correction consists of words and actions. Issue a warning/reminder to the child, at least initially. If this is a continually repetitive offense, there have probably been too many words and not enough action.
Then, check your heart. Isn't it incredible how these little objects of our genuine love and undying devotion can make us so upset??? So I find it not only beneficial but completely necessary to take and moment and check my own heart. Do not administer corrective words or actions if you are angry. Great harm can be done. (If you've messed up in this area - and Lord knows I have - then you need to ask your child to forgive you. Get your heart right before attempting to train another's)
Next, get the child's attention. Not by screaming (unless they are about to step in front of a bulldozer. Then it is fine to scream and grab them by the hair to move them out of harm's way) Turn their little face to look at you and tell them to look you in the eyes. Remind them of the command and state that it has been violated (ok, use age appropriate words!). Don't ask why they did it just ask for agreement that they disobeyed. This step is important because you are training them to accept personal responsibility for their actions. We need to help them avoid excuses or "victim mentality".
Then, you remind them that God tells us to obey and that there are consequences if we don't. Explain that because you love them so much, you are going to help them learn to obey God. Because that is the way of joy and blessing and you want that for them!
Consequences - methods of correction -
Consider these factors - age of child, the offense, and repetitions of offense - and always administer correction in private. I will repeat that 10000 times. Praise publicly but correct privately.
1. Verbal rebuke - sometimes a firm "NO" is all that's needed. (If you have a child that will always respond to this without further action, get on your knees right now and thank God profusely).
2. Time out - Removing a child from the situation is often an effective solution. Set a timer so the child knows this is not permanent and then put him/her in a room where there is nothing to entertain them. At all. When the timer goes off, they are not allowed to hop out of the chair. They must be released by the parent. My husband and I had the policy of whoever put them in, got them out. No "good cop, bad cop" routine. At this point, take the time to discuss the offense, remind them of the command they are to obey, lead them in asking God and you for forgiveness (and anyone else that they sinned against), hug them and it's over.
3. Withdrawal of privilege - this is especially effective with older children. Whenever possible/reasonable, tie the loss of privilege to the offense. For example, if the child gets a speeding ticket, no driving for a week or whatever. (Yes, this inconveniences the parent. That's part of the correction -- learning that our sin affects other people)
4. Work - My kids have so much work to do for me already that I rarely used this but it can be a great option. Pulling weeds, scrubbing baseboards, washing windows, etc. Try not to imagine violations just so you can get your kids to do this work........ :)
5. Spanking - I know this can be controversial so I want to say strongly and clearly that I am vehemently against child abuse. Slapping and hitting a child (or anyone, for that matter) are not options for parenting. A parent out of control that vents frustration and anger on a child will do great damage. For sure.
That, however, is not what the Bible exhorts. Calm, firm, controlled correction in the form of a spanking is what Proverbs 13:24, 23:13 and 29:15 describe:
He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.
The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother
Here's some guidelines for spanking we used in our home -
- "spank spoon" instead of our hands. Hands are for nurturing and cuddling, not for correction. We found a rubber spatula worked better than a wooden spoon. I was "reared" with a paddle but I don't know where to find those anymore!
- privacy. Did I already mention that? :) Administer spankings in private. Do not involve anyone but parent and child. Privacy We sent the child to our room to wait for us. This gave us a chance to check our hearts as well as to let the child think about the situation. Of course this doesn't work with really little ones! They might escape!!!
- go through the steps mentioned previously (state offense, have child admit responsibility, explain that disobedience brings consequences so that correct behavior will replace disobedience) and tell them you are grieved that they have disobeyed because now you must correct them
-explain what you are about to do, including a limit on the swats. If child cooperates, that is all he/she receives. If, however, child kicks, screams, resists, explain that there will be additional swats.
If the child is out of control, hold him/her firmly and remain calm. If you start to lose it, separate from the situation until you can regain control of yourself.
- have your child lay across your lap
- then spank. Chip Ingram explains the procedure well in this article from Focus on the Family. I haven't read the book it is taken from but this is a great article.
- when child is sobbing gently (not screaming wildly - that would mean the correction did not affect his/her heart and you have more work to do), hold them close and love them. Lead them in asking God's forgiveness and yours. Assure them of your love and that you have confidence they will do it right the next time
- I learned this step from my husband. I think it's profound. After a spanking (or any other correction) he issued a "command" to the child. Something as trite as "please hand me that piece of paper" but it was a chance for the child to walk in obedience. An opportunity for them to demonstrate repentance and a heart of compliance. Doing this reset the equilibrium of the relationship. Wise man, that husband of mine!
You may be thinking, wow, this takes a lot of time. You are right. Effective discipline is hard work. For the child and the parent. It's time consuming and difficult and downright painful for all involved. If you will be diligent early on, it is much easier later. Much less need for correction and Hebrews 12:11 promises
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.