Saturday, August 3, 2013

Toddler Time III

Although this is the third (4th if you include the Father's Day) post on raising kids, it may not be the last, but is the last of the series for this summer.  I trust that what has been mentioned so far is of value.  This post is on what has become a controversial subject - that of corporal discipline.  I use the word discipline instead of punishment for a specific purpose.  As we learned in the last post, discipline comes from Latin, meaning 'to learn.'  When spanking you child your purpose should have as its motivation to teach rather than to punish, although punishment is definitely part of it.  And I should know.  It has been many years since I was on the receiving end of the 'board of education,' but I can assure you that the pain that was inflicted was punishment!

First please never use types of punishment that God did not intend you to use.  There are some parents that feel they need to use extreme forms of punishment because their child is incorrigible.  This is usually the case of not starting to discipline early enough in life or of waiting until the child is really testing your patience.  In the next couple paragraphs, I will address both of these failures of proper discipline.

If you have waited until your child is three or four before exercising the paddle, you have waited far too long.  These first formative years are critical in setting boundaries.  The boundaries that you set should be reasonable - set with love and your little one's best interests in mind.  An example would be to expect your child to stop when you tell her to.  She may not see the danger of a moving car, and if she doesn't mind you, the result could be horrible.  To teach obedience to this rule is an act of love. 

Kids will push against the boundaries set for them, seeing how far they can stretch them.  It is your job, as the parent, to make sure the boundaries stay firm.  There are two aspects to obedience: instant and complete.  When you ask your little one to do something, you should not have to ask them three times.  You may give them the benefit of not having heard you the first time you requested.  But if they still ignore you after the second request - they are pushing against those boundaries - they may know they will eventually have to do as told, they are going to find out how many times they can ignore you!  So as a general rule, do not allow your kids to refuse to do as they are told after two requests from you.  Once they learn this, they will not be trying your patience as much.  Then you should expect complete obedience.  Young children should learn that the chores they are given should be done to the best of their abilities.  It will stand them in good stead when they get a job.

It is very important to talk to your child after administering discipline.  He may want to run to his room and shut himself away, but that is not best.  He should be told why he was spanked and asked if he was sorry.   After repenting, he should be loved and hugged.  Pray with him.  Notice that this doesn't include any shouting or anger on your part, although perhaps disappointment.  Please make sure you discipline before you lose your temper.  The discipline is so much more effective if you are calm.  Remember this should be a time of teaching. 

I don't remember when I stopped receiving spankings, but I was told by Dad years later that he didn't remember spanking me by the time I turned eight.  And as a parent I don't remember spanking my kids after that age - give or take a year.  The early years spent in consistent discipline produce good results.  If you wait, your child will likely become the incorrigible brat you will dread to discipline.  Just remember that God made a place on the body where the spanking is to be applied.  And aside from swatting a baby's hand when they attempt to touch things they shouldn't, you should never use any other parts of the body to inflict the punishment.  It is cruel to slap a child on the face.  It is evil to use other forms of 'discipline' on children, some that I would refer to as torture.  Too often the failure of parents to lovingly discipline their young children results in older brats.
May our Father, who disciplines us in love, give you the wisdom to deal well with those He has put in your care.