How to Discipline Your Kids (Guest Post by Donna Donaldson)

Kid in TroubleDare to Discipline (a book by Focus on the Family’s James Dobson) was a helpful tool for me when raising our three children. Discipline takes time, love, patience, prayer and consistency. Parenting is NOT for cowards is a true statement! Dobson states that respectful and responsible children result from families where a proper combination of love and discipline is present.

Biblical References:

  • Ephesians 6:1-4: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother. Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
  • Proverbs includes much practical wisdom on discipline. We’ve all heard “spare the rod, spoil the child.” The Message translation of Proverbs 13:24 states: “A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them.”
  • Hebrews 12:5-11 teaches that just as our parents discipline us, God disciplines us for our good so that we may share in His holiness. Discipline is a training ground for maturity and responsibility. Verse 11: “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.”
  • Other references:  Proverbs 1:8-9; 3:11-12; 10:17; 12:1; 13:18; 15:5, 10, 32; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:17; I Timothy 3:4-5.

Practical Advice for Toddlers – Age 10

  • Safety is of utmost importance at all ages! Toddlers and preschoolers often need repeated instructions and redirection.
  • Set clear limits and guidelines. Children will take charge if parents don’t!
  • Punishment administered away from curious onlookers.
  • Timeouts may be effective for some children. But if little Johnny is having a tantrum in the checkout because Mommy didn’t buy his requested snack or toy, it’s often more effective to just walk out of the store empty handed.
  • Spanking reserved for outright defiance. As Dobson states, the parent has “drawn a line in the dirt and the child has deliberately flopped his big hairy toe across it.”
  • Pray with your child daily; will help build this spiritual discipline.
  • Daily hugs and physical affection.

Tips for Handling Teenagers

  • Parents need to be united in their discipline tactics. Teens will manipulate one parent against the other and cause marital discord.
  • Set clear expectations and consequences that fit the crime. Follow through on the consequences or they will become repeat offenders.
  • Communication is crucial with teens. Family dinners and one-on-one time with them will encourage positive relationships.
  • Teens need supervision! Parents should be home when friends are over. Communicate with other parents too. Not a good idea to leave teens home alone overnight…often leads to parties, poor choices.
  • Do not overindulge. Proverbs 19:18: “Indulging them destroys them” (The Message). It’s often a good idea for teens to work part-time to help with gas, insurance. This will promote maturity and responsibility.
  • Get your teens involved in Youth Group and Volunteer Ministries. Be plugged in to your church as a family and make attending church each week a priority. Support your Youth Pastor with prayer and encouragement. Christ in Youth conferences were beneficial to each of our teens in their spiritual walk.
  • Counsel with older Christian adults. Their wisdom and experience is invaluable.
  • Lift up your teens in prayer daily! Forgive them as this teaches them to forgive others.
  • Daily hugs and affirming words. Teens want to know that they are loved unconditionally!
  • Never give up on your children! God has a specific plan for each child (Jeremiah 29:11).

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