When their children are this young, parents often overemphasize "leadership development" in their training. The truth is, a child cannot learn to lead unless he first learns to follow.
Parents must be proactive in teaching their children to willingly submit to authority (more on this in a future post). But, when a child fails to follow God's command (such as Ephesians 6:1 "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."), there needs to be consequences.
Remember that the purpose of consequences and discipline is not to bring about punitive punishment, but the goal is life change. Having said that, here are 4 practical consequences for training your young child to submit to authority: warnings, loss of privileges, time-outs, and spankings.
Be careful about warnings – how you think about them, and how you use them. A warning like, “You had better start cleaning up before I count to 3 . . .” actually trains the child to ignore your first command. Avoid those types of warnings.
Additionally, avoid making empty threats. I’ve made this mistake before. When my daughter was about 3, we were all at a social function. It was time to leave, and I had told her two or three times to come to our vehicle. Finally, I half-jokingly said, “Hannah, if you don’t come now, we’re going to leave you.” Joanna (rightly) called me out and reminded me not to do that. You need to say what you mean and mean what you say.
However, a warning can take the form of pulling your child aside and saying, “Your behavior is not right. You are being rude [or selfish, rude, destructive, etc]. You need to rethink the path that you are on, and make some better choices.”
Loss of Privileges
The amount of freedom and privileges a child (or an adult, for that matter) should have should increase with his proven responsibility. This principle is known as “parenting inside the funnel” and can be explained by the parenting video in this post.
When your child fails to be responsible with the freedoms that she has, her privileges should be reduced. As discussed in Teaching Stewardship, you need to lead your child to the level of responsibility (and freedom) that she is mature enough to handle.
You can read more about this concept in a previous post about us taking away our kids' Legos.
When your child is exhibiting foolish behaviors and attitudes, it is wise to pull him out of the situation for a moment. Giving him a time-out gives you the quietness you need to speak to his heart and head, and allows him to feel the discomfort of isolation. Additionally, what your child may need is a few minutes to “cool his jets.”
The duration of a time-out should vary based on the age of a child, and according to her temperament. Be sure to include an intentional heart level conversation at some point during the time-out, to ensure that the child understands the reason for and purpose of her being isolated.
The topic of spankings will definitely bring out strong opinions on both ends of the spectrum. The purpose of this post is not to give a full discourse on this issue. But I will say that we have used spankings as a disciplinary tool, and I disagree strongly with those who say that spanking is always wrong.
Here’s what we need to remember: Rebellion must not be taken lightly. We need to remember that training our children is not about us, and about our own position of power. This is about a God-ordained responsibility, that parents are to lead their children. So, when your child defies your command, he is not just rebelling against you, but against God.
This is that serious. Do not shrug-off the seriousness of a child’s rebellion and foolishness against God. Your job as a parent is:
- To help expose that rebellion,
- To help the child realize his sin and rebellion against God
- To lead your child towards the Cross, to help him trust in the grace and sufficiency of Jesus.
Without going into the details of the methodology of a spanking, I know that nothing gets my child’s attention like a spanking. The point of a spanking is not to vent my frustration, and it’s not a punitive action. The point of any method of discipline (such as a spanking) is to use a physical reality (pain or discomfort) in order to expose a spiritual problem (sin). A spanking is usually the most effective way to help a young child understand the seriousness of his sin.
Do you have anything to add to these types of consequences? Let us know in the comments.
- Biblical Parenting vs Gospel Parenting
- Is My Slow-to-Respond Child Being Disobedient?
- The Dangers of Spanking, and of Not Spanking
- Cruel and Unusual Punishment in Parenting
- 2 Dozen Pieces of Advice for Parenting Young Children
- Where Parents Go Wrong When It Comes to Discipline (from EpicParent.tv)
image courtesy of stay4while via sxc.hu