Posts Tagged ‘Discipline’

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. Hebrews 10:35 (NKJV)


Dr. Justin Coulson[i], the author of What Your Child Needs From You: Creating a Connected Family, suggests that rather than using carrots and sticks, try to instill motivation within your child. That’s not a quick fix thing but rather a slow process that you develop through having conversations with your kids and setting a great example.

As we look at a few areas of concern, here’s what you may do.  Let’s say, for instance, that your teenager is reluctant to study.  Help them look at the big picture. Ask them something like, “what do you want to be/do/have?” Coulson suggests that once they’ve got a vision for the future, then you’re on your way.

On the other hand, if your teen doesn’t have specific academic or career goals yet, find out what interests them.  You can encourage them to volunteer at a car shop, nursing home, or the music store.

A very common area of conflict for parents of teenagers is how to get them to clean their rooms and pick up after themselves.  Talk with them in terms of your values and their responsibility.  Remind them that everyone at home is expected to abide by a minimum standard, talk about what that minimum standard is, and how you can achieve it.

Don’t forget the power of appreciation. When your teens have done as they were asked, let them know you’re grateful. This motivates kids of any age — we all like to hear that we’ve made someone happy or grateful.

One other source of conflict with today’s kids may be exercise.  See if you can find their interests and their strengths and encourage them to pursue them.  If your child exercises better with others see if they can take part in team sports.  If they prefer individual challenges you can help them track their progress.  Success on the field, on the scale, or the weight room can be very motivating.

The research is clear: the more we can encourage our children’s autonomy and internal motivation, the better the long-term outcomes will be.


Father God, help to guide my teenage children during these challenging years of their life.

[i] http://family-studies.org/motivating-kids-without-carrots-and-sticks/?utm_source=IFS+Main+List&utm_campaign=c522b8ed26-Newsletter_100&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c06b05f1ff-c522b8ed26-104541745

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It’s a school of hard knocks for those who leave God’s path, a dead-end street for those who hate God’s rules. Proverbs 15:10 (MSG)


Dr. Justin Coulson[i], the author of What Your Child Needs From You: Creating a Connected Family, writes that we often try to motivate teens with rewards and punishment—but there are a lot of problems with that approach.  What motivates a teenager is fun stuff such as friends, music, friends, electronic devices and social media, friends, sleeping in, and, yes, friends.  On the other hand, we know what doesn’t motivate a teenager…anything boring such as cleaning up, studying, practicing musical instruments, exercising, etc.

The most often used approach to discipling kids is with carrots or sticks, that is, with rewards or punishment.  For instance, if the kids haven’t done their chores, they don’t get their electronic devices. If they have done their chores, they get pocket money (and devices, etc.). In theory, this could work just fine. But parents struggle every day to put it into practice.

Coulson suggests that rewarding and punishing children based on their actions can send the message that our love is conditional.  Taking ideas from Alfie Kohn’s book Punished by Rewards, Couldson explains some possible other problems with the carrot-and-stick approach:

  1. The promise of a reward is also a promise of a punishment. As he explains, “Implicit in every promise of a privilege is the threat that the privilege or reward can be taken away.
  2. Using rewards and punishments is bad for your relationship. Because children often perceive that rewards mean approval, and approval means love, we may be sending them the message that our love is conditional.
  3. It ignores reasons! When we use this method we fail to recognize the reasons why our child may not be motivated.
  4. Intrinsic motivation is undermined. When children are motivated for the reward, or to avoid the punishment, they’ll put in the smallest amount of effort possible, and as they put in less effort and become even less motivated, the rewards have to increase. (will continue)


Father, we need all your wisdom to help disciple our children.

[i] http://family-studies.org/motivating-kids-without-carrots-and-sticks/?utm_source=IFS+Main+List&utm_campaign=c522b8ed26-Newsletter_100&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c06b05f1ff-c522b8ed26-104541745

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Scripture: Just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 1 Thessalonians 2:11 (NASB)

Observation: Paul likens the conduct of the missionaries to the loving, unselfish care of a nursing mother (v. 7), and he now compares their behavior to that of a father. What he implies here is that they trained and instructed the Thessalonians in the same way that a responsible father disciplines his children. The Greek work for children emphasizes the believers’ immaturity as well as the apostles’ affection for them..

Application: It is interesting to note the three words Paul uses here to show his fatherly love for his Thessalonian spiritual children: Exhort, encourage (or console), and urge (or implore). Each of these words have a different aspect of parenting.
Exhorting: Webster’s online dictionary includes several definitions for this word which include to incite by argument or advice, to urge strongly, to give warnings or advice, or to make urgent appeals.
The other two words are more commonly used in today’s language – console or encourage, and implore.
Think of the times as parents when we have had to reprimand, discipline, or punish our children. The goal we have is not to be vindictive or vengeful with them but rather to “exhort” them to do better and act differently for their own benefit. No child enjoys being disciplined by his/her parents and they may even feel as if their parents do not love them at that moment – why else would they be treating them that way? That’s why consoling or encouraging them immediately following the application of discipline is so crucial for the well-being of the child. They need to be corrected but they also need to be assured of their father and mother’s love.
Exhortation/discipline/correction has its place,. And consoling/encouragement also has it’s place, but they are not complete without the third element – imploring, which can also mean to urge or to charge them to do what is right. So the process of disciplining our children must involve these three steps or ingredients:
– Correct them when they do wrong (exhort, punish, discipline)
– Console or encourage (or assure them of your love for them. . . a hug and loving, comforting words)
– Charge (implore or urge) them to do better next time.

A Prayer You May Say: Father God, thank You because at times You have to discipline us, but You always do it with the greatest love and guidance. Help us as parents to follow the same principles so our children will love us and love You as a result.

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Scripture: (Judg 11:30-31 NKJV)  And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, {31} “then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”

Observation: Jephthah led the Israelites to defeat the Ammonites, but before he went to war with them he asked God for the power, the strength, the ability to defeat them, and then promised that if he would indeed win he would present God an offering of the first thing that came out of the house.  I’m not sure what he thought would come out – an cow, a goat?  Or if he thought that maybe one servant might come out.  But great was his distress when it was his only daughter who came out to greet him and to celebrate his victory and great her disappointment when instead of a great joy, her celebration turned into great sorrow.

Application: Just as careless as Jephthah was with his vow, so are many parents with the promises or threatened discipline.  We have observed many parents, specially parents of small children, threaten discipline unless their children change their actions, but they do it in a way that the children know are vain words.  Some  count: “Jimmy stop that!  One. . . two. . . two-and-a-half. . .”  Children know that counting doesn’t really mean anything until it gets to three.  Others would threaten by repeating themselves: “Sussy, come here. . . Sussy, I told you to come here. . . Sussy, I’m not going to tell you again, come here. . . Sussy, I’m getting upset, you better come here. . .” and on and on.  Other parents use their staccato voice and the children’s names to show the escalation of their command: “Ronny pick up your toys. . . Ron, pick up your toys. . . Ronald, pick up your toys, Ronald Arthur, I told you to pick up your toys. . . RONALD ARTHUR SMITH YOU COME RIGHT NOW AND PICK UP YOUR TOYS OR I’M GOING TO. . .”  It is finally at this point that children take their parents more seriously and begin to either move in the direction of complying or rebelling further to see how far they can push their parents.
When it comes to discipline, it’s best to follow these steps:
1. Set clear limits and consequences, according to the age and understanding capacity of each child.
2. If the child crosses the limit, apply discipline immediately.  This does a number of things.  First of all, you as the parent applies the discipline without losing your temper.  Secondly, the child learns to comply with the pre-defined limits.
3. Immediately after applying discipline, reassure your children of your love for them.
In the same way, don’t make threats that will affect you or the rest of the family because you will end up punishing everyone else or you will find yourself in the position to break the threat.  For instance, if your child comes home later than they should have and you tell them something like: “You’re not going anywhere for a month!”, you may have to stay at home for that month and therefore the entire family is punished with the transgressor.
On the other hand, don’t make promises you can’t keep.  Don’t say, “if you get good grades I’ll buy you a new car,” when you may not be able to afford the car and all related expenses, and if your child does get good grades, then you may not be able to fulfill that promise and therefore give negative messages to your children, such as: My parents don’t keep their promises, it doesn’t matter if I do well in school, etc.
These things are part of what Jesus meant when He said, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no” (Mat. 5:37).

Prayer: Father, help us to make no promises or threats we cannot keep.

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