Raising Healthy Kids: Discipline Your Kids Before Someone Else Does

It’s not easy being a parent since parenting often times summons a mom or dad to do the hard things like disciplining those they love the most. Allow me an example, I remember telling a young man one day, “If you don’t appreciate and accept discipline for your life, others will discipline your life for you.” By “others” I meant law enforcement officials. Sure enough this young man got into some trouble with the law and was taken to the local detention center. He learned his lesson (or discipline) the hard way.

Discipline is a form of instruction that teaches and trains a child to think about their choices before taking action, thus, shaping moral conscience and character. Discipline is a word denoting “instruction given to a disciple” (a student, learner or pupil), and discipline helps a young person learn the right things before making the mistakes he or she will later regret. Much later on discipline evolved to mean the “treatment that corrects or punishes.”[1]

If a child does not learn to live the right way up front – he or she will end up learning life the hard way on the back end. As a parent you may want to avoid the grief later on. Discipline is necessary because it balances a child’s life by teaching them the importance of thought, choice, action and outcomes.

The Spectrum of Healthy Discipline:

a. Instruction – Teaching moral values and reinforcing them by being “living” examples of these values in your home.

b. Correction – A mild reminder of what has been learned. Example: “Johnny, remember what we talked about.”

c. Reprimand – A stern form of verbal correction with a strong warning only after many reminders of what was previously learned. Example: “Johnny, your behavior is unacceptable…”

d. Corporal Punishment– Slight physical pain administered appropriately with the final objective of shifting a child’s thinking and evenutally repeated, and unwanted behavior.

The wisdom of King Solomon is evident in Proverbs 13:24;

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.”

King Solomon was certainly not an advocate of permissive parenting. Corporal punishment is not an easy subject to deal with; it polarizes many people. If you examine the passage above the emphasis is on “love” and “careful”. The word “careful” in the Hebrew culture means to “seek a way in or break in”, which strongly suggests “to break into” unhealthy thinking and reasoning sensors, which control impulsive choices and actions. Spanking sets limits of unwanted behavior in the child’s mind, eventually shaping character, setting appropriate boundaries and right conduct.

Parents, if you don’t take the time to discipline your child(ren) starting with “instruction” (educating values, etc.), then one day you may find others like law enforcement officials and the courts disciplining your child for you. Many prisons are filled with men and women who were not properly disciplined by their parents; many of them came from broken and severely dysfunctional homes. My advice to young parents is discipline your kids before someone else does.

What’s your opinion of the Spectrum of Discipline?

[1] Online Etymology Dictionary. Discipline:
http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=discipline&searchmode=term, accessed December 1, 2009.