Contrary to what many people think, discipline is not a negative word. Discipline comes from a Greek word that means “to train.” Discipline involves the long and vigilant task of guiding a child from infancy to adulthood. The goal is that the child would reach a level of maturity that will allow him one day to function as a responsible adult in society.
disciplining without love is like trying to run a machine without oil. It may appear to be working for a while, but will end in disaster.
The common, popular definition of discipline is the establishing of parental authority, the developing of guidelines for behavior, and then helping children live by these guidelines.
Love looks out for the interests of another; so does discipline. So discipline is certainly an act of love. And the more a child feels loved, the easier it is to discipline that child. The reason is that a child must identify with her parents in order to accept their guidance without resentment, hostility, and obstructive, passive-aggressive behavior. This means that we must keep the child’s love tank full before we administer discipline.
If Michael felt secure in his father’s love, he would know that the discipline he received was, at least in Paul’s mind, for his well-being. But since he does not feel loved, he views his dad’s discipline as an act of selfishness.
Some parents think a child should try to earn their love and affection with good behavior, but this just isn’t possible.
it does not make sense to demand good behavior from a child without first making sure he feels loved.
The second question we must ask in order to discipline with love is, “What does my child need when she misbehaves?” Instead, when a child misbehaves, many parents ask, “What can I do to correct her behavior?” If they ask that question, the logical answer is, “Punishment.” This is one reason that punishment is so overused, rather than parents’ selecting more appropriate ways of training a child.
A child who misbehaves has a need. To overlook the need behind the misbehavior can prevent us from doing the right thing.
When your child misbehaves and you have asked yourself, “What does my child need?” the next question should be, “Does this child need her love tank filled?”
The second most common cause of misbehavior is a physical problem, and the younger the child, the more behavior is affected by physical needs. “Is my child in pain? Hungry or thirsty? Fatigued? Ill?”
“Does my child feel sorry for what he has done?” When a child feels genuinely sorry for what he has done, there is no need to proceed further. He has learned and repented; punishment now could be destructive. If your child is truly sorry and shows genuine remorse, you should rejoice. This means his conscience is alive and well.
What controls a child’s (or adult’s) behavior when he doesn’t have to behave appropriately? Right, a healthy conscience. And what is the raw material from which a normal conscience is formed? Guilt. A certain amount of guilt is necessary for the development of a healthy conscience. And what will wipe away guilt, as clean as a new slate? You guessed it—punishment, especially corporal punishment.
When your child is truly sorry for her misbehavior, instead of punishing her, forgive her.
In your example of forgiving her, you are teaching beautiful lessons about forgiveness she can take into her adult years. By experiencing forgiveness from her parents, she is learning to forgive herself and later to forgive someone else.
Here are five methods you can use to effectively control your child’s behavior. Two of these are positive, two are negative, and one is neutral.
1. Making Requests
Requests are pleasant to the child and help to ease the anger that may be stirred by a parent’s commands. And it is so much easier for parents to be pleasant when using requests, thereby remaining “kind but firm.”
2. Issuing Commands
The more you use authoritarian techniques such as commands, scolding, nagging, or screaming, the less effective you become. But if you normally use pleasant requests, then the occasional use of commands will generally be effective.
As parents, you have only so much authority. If you waste it being negative, you will not have enough left for the difficult, critical times. Being kind but firm not only conserves your authority, but it enhances your authority, because you are gaining your children’s respect and love as well as their gratitude.
3. Gentle Physical Manipulation
do not use punishment as your primary way of disciplining your young child or teenager.
5. Behavior Modification
Because discipline is most effective when it happens in the context of love, it is wise to give a child a conscious expression of love both before and after administering punishment. We have noted that the most effective way to communicate love is by using the child’s primary love language, so speak it even when you must correct or punish the child.
Be careful. If your daughter’s primary love language is quality time, you don’t want to discipline her with isolation, such as sending her to her room each time she misbehaves. If it’s physical touch, don’t discipline by withholding your hugs.