Last week we kicked off the discussion on correcting misbehavior with a question, “What is the Goal of Discipline?” I’d encourage you to read that post when you have a minute, but here’s the Cliff’s Notes — we want to teach our kids to identify and make good choices.
Discipline or correction is all about teaching and training. That’s why we called this post Filling the Training Toolbox. We want to help parents brainstorm some tools that can help them train their kids to identify and make good choices.
Hang with us long enough, and you’re bound to hear us say:
- Good Choices = Good Results
- Bad Choices = Bad Results
Of course we know that bad things sometimes happen to good people and that good things sometimes happen to unscrupulous people. Matthew 5:45 says, God “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
But as a general principle, this one is sound. Chances are good that if I work hard, save money, invest wisely and have a giving heart, I’m not going to live in financial turmoil. (Good choices equal good results.) On the flip side, if I refuse to work regularly, and I live beyond my means, I’m going to face debt and stress. (Bad choices equal bad results.)
The tools we’re going to talk about this week fall into one of the following categories:
- 1. Natural Consequences
- 2. Negative Reinforcement
- 3. Positive Reinforcement
- 4. Preventative Measures
- 5. Corrective Conversations
Before using any form of discipline, check your own heart. Is your goal to train and correct, or is it revenge (i.e. you’re mad and you want them to know it!)?
Once you determine that your true motivation is to educate or train, pray and ask for wisdom and then ask yourself a series of questions:
- What was the root of the misbehavior? (i.e. laziness, pride, selfishness, anger, rebellion, sensory issue)
- How is this behavior wrong?
- What would happen if an adult behaved this way?
- What other negative outcomes could this behavior produce? (someone could have been hurt; an item could have been lost, stolen or broken, child could be alienated from others)
- Was the child somehow set up for failure? (tired, hungry, overstimulated, pushed to incompetence)
- Does your child need a motivator to overcome the misbehavior?
- Is your child missing a tool that could help him to be more successful?
- Is he mature enough to benefit from a discussion about the situation?
If you struggle to answer any of the questions or to choose a good teaching tool, talk to your spouse or another trusted adult, but be sure to honor your child in the process. Don’t gossip about your kids or air their dirty laundry in public. We all make mistakes, and just as we wouldn’t want someone broadcasting our faux pas to the world, our kids don’t like it either.
Stop by tomorrow for an in-depth discussion on Natural Consequences — what they are and how and when to use them.