In our last article, we identified four categories of inappropriate behavior: Not-minding, Self-indulgent, Routine Not-minding and Aggressive behavior. Each of these requires a different type of discipline in order to properly direct the child to a new and better way of acting and relating to others. Knowing these corrections and applying them faithfully will result in children that have the self-control and life skills that will prepare them to better navigate the adult world. Firmly, consistently and lovingly using these corrections is one of the greatest gifts you can give you children.
Here are some examples of how to correct the Not-Minding Behavior:
The Corrections for Not-Minding:
1. The “Physical Assist” is a correction for Not-Minding. It is a way to help children learn to follow reasonable commands. This correction is more appropriate for young children.
How to carry out the Physical Assist:
When the child does not mind the first time say, “No.” Then restate the command as you physically lead the child through the task. There are a wide variety of ways to physically assist a child: from walking toward a child, to standing very close to the child, to touching the child lightly on the shoulder, to actually picking up the child and removing him or her. The main idea is to use your own body in a non-verbal way to help the child do what you have asked her to do. Use as little physical force as you possibly can. Very often, just the knowledge that the adult is right there, only a few feet away and ready to step in, is enough of a physical assist to convince the child it is time to carry out the command. Do not restate the command more than once. Say nothing else throughout the physical assist procedure. Try to remember not to get too emotionally involved. Remember this is not a punishment. This is a teaching method. There should be no non-verbal message of anger. The non-verbal message to the child should be a matter-of-fact statement that, “This must be done. This is the way things are.”
When the physical assist is finished, go back to whatever you were doing. Do not mention anything about what just happened. Talking about the misbehavior is perceived by the child as demeaning, a way of “rubbing their face in it.” Talking about the misbehavior in any way will set up a power struggle in which the child will attempt to protect their inner integrity by disobeying you again. When the incident is over, let it be over. As soon as the child exhibits the slightest neutral or positive behavior, immediately reinforce the new behavior with friendly eye contact or touch or word.
Chastisement is also a correction for Not-Minding when a child does not obey even with the physical assist or the child is too old to need a physical assist and is choosing to willfully disobey.
1 Samuel 3:13-14 “For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”
2 Samuel 7:14 “I will be his father and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men.”
Proverbs 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope: so do not be willing party to his death.
*Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
*Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not withhold discipline from a child: if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.
*Proverbs 29:15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.
These verses make it clear that chastisement is biblical. “Punish him with a rod” and “with floggings inflicted by men,” is not just guiding him with a shepherd’s staff or protecting him from wolves, it is a spanking. I don’t believe that every Christian has to use chastisement, as long as they are able to restrain their child (1 Samuel 3:13-14). There are plenty of methods available for godly parenting, accomplishing the goal of providing children with the desire and ability to follow God. But chastisement is a biblical method, condoned by God.
However, the Bible does not condone all types of spanking. Sometimes parents spank as a “last resort,” after the tension of the situation has gotten very high, and the parent is very angry. In this case spanking is done more for the parent than the child, the parent is fed up and feels the need to express the extent of their anger towards the child. The parent then feels a sense of release through the spanking. This is completely inappropriate and unbiblical. Biblical chastisement is for the child’s training. The parent must never chastise out of anger or frustration. The parent must always exhibit self-control. The parent must never swat a child in public or in front of other people at all. Chastisement is only to be done in specific circumstances with a specific goal of changing the child’s mind about who is in authority and his attitude of willfulness.
I believe this is a balanced view. Here are some instructions for those who choose to use chastisement.
Chastisement is a correction for children who have already learned what is expected of them but refuse to obey. It means to inflict pain with controlled force to amend an inner attitude and is needed when a child refuses to obey. Chastisement should only be done with the righteous goal of shaping the child’s heart. The parent needs to explain to the child that they are going to receive chastisement to help them remember to obey next time, in a calm and matter of fact way. Chastisement should only be administered to the hand or bottom, never anywhere else on the body. When it is over, it’s over, consider the matter closed and move on. You can tell the child that you love them, give them a hug and tell them that they can come out when they are ready. The discipline is over, they do not need any relational distance as a punishment. Don’t sabotage yourself by bringing up the disobedience again.
The next blog will address the corrections for Self-Indulgent behavior.