To discipline a child takes courage. How to positively discipline children?
- Mold the child’s will without breaking the spirit: A child’s will is molded by applying proper discipline when the child seeks to go in a direction contrary to the will of the parents. A child’s spirit is uplifted by being valued as a unique creation of God and by being treated with kindness and respect. A child’s spirit can be broken in an atmosphere of overreacting or too many rules, criticizing or teasing, false accusations or inflexibility, impatience or harsh punishment. “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21)
- Communicate your expectations clearly to your child: Get on your child’s eye level. Prior to any problems, describe in detail what you expect of your child about structure and limits. Form an agreement with your child and ask for a statement of his or her understanding of your expectations. When it is time for your child to obey, give one gentle reminder. “We instructed you how to live in order to please God.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1)
- Establish negative consequences for misbehaviour: To establish effective consequences, know your child’s likes and dislikes. If possible, choose a consequence related to the behaviour. Clearly communicate the consequence. Prior to a problem, get your child’s agreement to the consequence. Allow your child to experience the consequence for disobedience. “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” (Proverbs 19:18)
Encourage and develop your child’s responsibility: Allow your child to make choices and decisions. Permit your child to experience the consequences of wrong choices and the benefits of right choices. Give increased freedom when your child is responsible. Restrict freedom when your child is irresponsible. “A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him.” (Proverbs 17:25)