“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1 NIV).
I have heard it said: “Discipline is the forms placed around the wet concrete of life.” So discipline must be put in place before the concrete sets up.
Discipline is not doing something to a child; it is providing a structure of restraints for the child. Discipline gives the child boundaries. Boundaries in turn give the child the feeling of security. When crossing a bridge, I seldom use the curbs and the fence, yet they make all the difference in my feeling of well-being while crossing. Your child is crossing from this life to a better place and needs your discipline.
Discipline begins in the cradle. It does not take you long to realize this sweet baby was born with a will. His will must be channeled. Parents soon can tell the difference between the cry for food and dry diapers to the cry of anger. Never ignore the first and never pamper the second.
I still remember the temper tantrum one of my daughters had before she could walk. She got angry and threw her bottle out of her crib screaming all the time. I took the bottle and gently and firmly, put it back in her mouth. She took it out and threw it; and thus began a battle of wills. I knew that if I did not win it, I would have to face it again. I was not angry, just determined. After fifteen minutes of picking up the bottle and placing it back in her mouth, she took the bottle and her screams of anger became a cry of resignation. I won that one, but there were more to come.
The prime time to teach discipline is when a child is still a toddler. He usually will assert his will especially during the terrible two’s. I have heard it said that if you do not channel a child’s will when they are two or three, you will certainly face it again, with the addition of thirteen—plus age hormones.
My pastor tells of watching his son take a handful of dirt out a potted plant and throwing it on the floor. My pastor then slapped his son’s hand. His son looked him in the eye and took another handful and threw it. His hand was slapped again. This continued until his hand was red — but his will was checked. Was this cruel? No! This was ‘loving discipline’.
A child’s will, if left unchecked, will rise up against parents, then authority and then, even God. A parent does not need to break the spirit in order to control the will. In training a horse, the trick is to bend and control the will— not break the spirit. The formula is to be kind, firm and consistent.
Have you ever-wondered why even strong self-willed child, will after a short period of time, accept being placed in a seat belt – without screaming?
It is because:
- The parent must do it or face a fine.
- The parent sees it as a safety act of love.
- The child knows it happens every time they go for a ride in the car
- The child knows that no screaming will change the parents mind.
The reason it works is that it is done with kindness, done firmly and done consistently. No crying can change the parents mind!
Hopefully, there will be many times you can say, “Yes.” However, when you say, “No!” mean, “No!”
Say, “NO!” –With an exclamation point!
At this young age you do not have to explain your reasons for your “No!”
God gave your child you to decide what behavior is correct. Your child needs to know you are in charge and he must learn to obey.
If you win the battle early, the battles will decrease in number and intensity the older the child gets. The opposite will happen if you don’t!
Pay the price now or you will pay it later—you decide.
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