Have you ever noticed…it can seem like everyone is an expert on how you should raise your kids. And especially, those who have no kids. I can remember my pre-children days…I would see children horribly misbehaving (from my point of view), and would boldly think to myself…’my children will NEVER act like that’! And then…my wife and I had children!
Parenting can be a struggle some days! You can at times get that overwhelmed feeling! But then when they’re sound asleep, you quietly slip in their room, and watch them sleep, appearing so innocent! Children are a blessing…I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I want the best for them.
Psalm 127 3-5 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them…
We live in a world that teaches that children should only be rewarded, and that punishment is not an option. A few years ago my wife and I attended a course on discipline, in which the instructor began to teach that discipline does not involve punishment, only choices and rewards. Her concept was punishment is completely negative and should not be involved in child rearing.
Proverbs 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
Unfortunately, there are several issues with the philosophy of no punishment! First of all, life is full of consequences! If you don’t perform adequately at work, you get fired. If you get fired, you get no paycheck. If you get no paycheck, you don’t pay your bills. If you don’t pay your bills, you lose your house and your car. My question would be, are the social workers going to be there to bail the children of today out of their financial struggles when their child rearing philosophies produce a nation of adults that are unable to face the consequences of life?
Second, as I watch children who face no punishments, or consequences, and as I observe the parents beg and plead with their children to behave, it becomes quite apparent to me that the philosophy of no punishment is NOT working by any stretch of the imagination!
Of course, one must be careful and have a healthy balance in the forms of discipline utilized! The goal is to raise a child into a responsible, participating, contributing to society adult who has morals and convictions!
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Discipline: Discipline would be a healthy balance of expectations, rewards, and punishment. Along with the expectations should come a good role model. While there are some activities or behaviors designated for parents and not children, at the same time a parent needs to model expected behaviors for a child. In example, if I don’t want my children to swear, why would I swear? If I want my children to exercise, I should exercise! If I want my children to clean their room, I should clean my room! Children learn by the example of their parents!
Rewards: I do believe in rewards…but not everything in life comes with a monetary reward! I eat healthy so I feel good…I shower so I don’t smell…I take my medication so I don’t get sick…I pay my tithes because I want to do right by God! No one pats me on the back…no one gives me a cookie…there is no immediate reward for some expected behaviors. I also don’t get an allowance from my wife when I do the dishes, or sweep the floor. She may say thank you and give me a pat on the back…but this is my house, so there is an expectation! When it comes to children though, if an allowance is offered, there must be an expectation of what is required to gain the allowance, and when the chores aren’t completed, there must be a follow through! No chore = No allowance!
Punishment: Sometimes parents can get too ‘punishment happy’! There should be NO thrill attached to punishment! You should NEVER be happy punishing your child! And, if you find that you are constantly punishing, you need to take a step back…your child is not getting the concept you are trying to push! Why? NO child enjoys punishment, and no child will pursue punishment! So where is the break in communication that is causing you to feel the need to constantly punish?
Are the expectation clear to the child, and are they constant? (What I get punished for today, do I get away with tomorrow?)
Is the child at an age of understanding the expectation, and the punishment?
Does the child ever get positive attention? Children CRAVE attention, and if they don’t get positive attention, they will misbehave just to get attention, even if it is negative!
Does the child feel loved by their parents?
Does the child see others get away with behavior they are punished for? (This includes mom and dad!)
When you feel like all the attention you are giving your child is negative, take a step back! Evaluate the child’s behavior. Evaluate your behavior. Evaluate the circumstances. Evaluate the other influences in the child’s life. And keep in mind…there is no ‘one size fits all’ method to raising children! Every parent has a different personality, and every child has a different personality. What works for one family, may not work for another.
And don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help or guidance!