Disciplining In Love

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“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” 

-Proverbs 13:24

Anyone here like Andy Griffith? I remember the first time I watched the TV show, laughing at Barney and falling in love with that small little quiet town of Mayberry. What I loved most were the moments between Sheriff Taylor and his little boy, Opie. It seemed like Andy always knew how to handle his son, as well as manage a town full of disorderly adults.

Andy taught me that when dealing with kids, we should “simmer down.” Don’t react in anger, raise your voice, or feed the flames of chaos by adding your own emotional stress. In other words, the more loud and upset a child gets, the calmer you should become. You set the thermostat of emotion in your home.

Andy taught me that when a child has wronged you should talk it out. Anytime Opie got in trouble, it was often due to the influence of others or even simple matters of misunderstanding. After Opie had cooled off, Andy would always sit with him and calmly explain why Opie’s actions were wrong. This is how kids learn and grow.

Andy taught me that we can be both loving and firm. Andy sticks with what he says, and Opie has a respect for his father because of it. It isn’t so much that he fears punishment, but that he fears to disappoint his father. That is parenting done right! Boundaries and rules should be clear and unbending to the child’s will. In this way, children feel safe and loved.

Lastly, Andy taught me that the best way to teach and correct a child is through example. Opie, like many children, look up to adults and like to mirror them. Watching how Andy treats people, how he handles situations, and how he even apologizes when he makes a mistake, in turn, influences Opie who sees Andy as his hero.

In particular, boys learn from their fathers what it means to be a man. How they are to treat women (Episode: Ellie for Council), how they are to handle confrontation, as well as how they are to control their emotions lest they control them.

I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent yet, but I’ve worked with children at a daycare, multiple church kid ministries, and now I am the director of our church’s preschool class. At the daycare, I watched kids from 2 years-5th grade, from 7am-7pm Monday through Friday.

The daycare systems have sadly become “parents” to many children who come from broken homes or foster care. I’ve seen how divorce affects children, how neglect and abuse affect their emotional and social development. And most of all, I’ve seen what a lack of proper discipline has done to these kids, and the lasting damage it ultimately causes them.

Undisciplined children do not learn as quickly, struggle to develop friendships, have trouble coping with their emotions, often are starving for love and security, and ultimately find “growing up” very challenging.

The children I disciplined the most became the children who needed me the most. They were the ones who craved my attention and wanted to sit in my lap.

I remember watching these twin 4-year-old boys. When one got in trouble, the other would scream and do all that he could to get in trouble also. This feeding off of each other led to them being separated.

The one who fed off of the other did well without his brother around, the one who often started the trouble only escalated. The teachers told me he was too much, and they carried a tangible stress about it as their efforts to re-direct or calm him didn’t seem to help.

One day I was walking by that class and heard the young boy causing a commotion, he wanted to leave the classroom and go outside but he wouldn’t listen to the head teacher. I walked in, held the door closed, told him that he must be quiet and stand in line, then I waited. He tested my resolve by turning the lights on and off. When that didn’t elicit a response, he went around knocking all the chairs over, I responded by shrugging at him, “that won’t get you outside, nor will it get you out of this room.” I stayed calm and so the rest of the class was also calm and waiting, some of the kids even picked up the chairs he had knocked over.

I remember him staring in shock at me, he was completely confused at what to do, apparently making a scene and tantrums had won him attention before. He laid on the floor and I picked him up and put him in a chair, “if you can sit there quietly and apologize then we will go outside.” I placed him back in that chair probably 15 times before he gave up and said he was sorry.

After that, he hugged me and I told him I loved him. I then asked him what was wrong because I know he is a good boy and he told me he just wanted to be with his brother, I said that he would have to behave better, which I know he can do, before we would consider moving him back and after that day he became much better, wanting to sit with me every time I was in there and read to him.

This is just an example of a time I know I handled discipline right. As adults, we still are learning, and we still are being disciplined. Maybe we make a mistake at work and get chewed out for it, maybe we said something out of anger and have to apologize to the one(s) we wronged…the list continues. No one is perfect, no parent is perfect, and so all we can do is the best we can, raising our children under the guidance of God’s Word. Through God we all practice disciplines and obedience. What greater example is there than that?

Oddly enough, kids have taught me a lot about life. They have made me face my anger and anxiety, as well as reminded me of what it means to really believe. Child-like Faith is more powerful than we give it credit for. And despite the stress and challenges of child-rearing, the times when tantrums involved kicking and screaming, the times when all respect had gone out the window and I felt underqualified to take charge. I have discovered a deeper love within myself for each and every child I meet, and a heart that understands those who need love most.

Some of you may be reading this thinking, “yeah, I’m not called to work with kids so…”

I used to say the same thing, then God called me. The children are our future, and they carry the future of the church as well as the future influence of our world. That is why it is my firm belief that everyone is called to serve, teach, give, love, protect, discipline, and sacrifice for their sake. They are the “king” of this nation.

And they need you.

 

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4 thoughts on “Disciplining In Love

    1. Haha yeah, I didn’t think I was either, but after spending more time with them God really was the one who did a work in me. I grew up without siblings, so honestly I preferred being around adults growing up.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My daughter does the same thing at the school she works at. She tells me all the time how the kids who act up the most seem to need the most love. It is like they are missing something in their home lives. She also ignores bad behavior and praises the good. She told me it seems like some of these kids love to be punished because they are getting attention and even bad attention is something to them. That is so sad.

    Liked by 1 person

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