What the True Purpose of Discipline Should Be
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Why do you discipline your children? Or, do you?
Personally, I believe that discipline is essential when it comes to raising children. However, the purpose behind it can vary from family to family. Many who are anti-discipline see it as a tool that is used to shame and punish children.
For us, this is not how we would define discipline at all. Discipline is carried out from a place of love and nurture. It is something that is done with balance and fairness.
Find out what discipline should look like, the key principles it should be made up of, and how tips for implementing it in the following points.
1) It’s Personal
As I mentioned above, discipline and your attitudes towards it will vary from person to person. Not only does it look different in every family, but it should look different for each child.
Because each child is different. They have different personalities, different love languages, and different traits. Because of this, your method is going to have to be tailored to suit each of your children.
I’m not bothered about how other families choose to discipline (or not). Their children are theirs to raise. My responsibility is to be concerned for the children in my care. Equally so, I am not concerned about the opinions of others about how we choose to discipline in our home. Again, my children, my choices, my responsibility.
2) It Isn’t Really About Behaviour
I can understand why it would be easy to assume that discipline is about teaching children to behave in a certain way. There is some amount of truth to it, however, that’s not really what it is about at all.
Anyone can be made to obey if enough force is used. That is not what my intention is when it comes to my children. I don’t want to raise children that are basically robots.
If all I’ve strived for is to create children that are respectful and obedient then I may achieve that while they’re under my roof, but the moment they are granted freedom their behaviour may change significantly.
So, what is it about then? What really is the purpose of discipline?
The simple and yet complex truth is that it is to win their hearts. Because, while good behaviour is wonderful and certainly makes life more enjoyable, it is only as pure as the heart that it stems from.
As a Christian, I see it as even more. My job is to guide my children towards Christ. I can do my best to teach them to have good characters, but it is ultimately all useless if they are without Christ.
So, that is what the purpose of discipline is. Not to create good people, but to show my children their need for a Saviour.
3) There’s More to it Than Punishment
There is so much more to discipline than punishment. So, SO much more.
I explain more about the ‘ingredients’ of discipline in this post –> When to Start Discipline & How to Do It
However, for the sake of this post, I specifically want to talk about how important it is to have a balanced approach. Punishment is important, but it is damaging if that is all that your discipline consists of. Conversation is VITAL but without consequences, it isn’t nearly as effective.
Learning how to talk to your child and have a balanced approach to discipline doesn’t necessarily come naturally. Below I’ve listed some posts that can really help you in this area, especially in regards to dealing with toddlers and their rather over-the-top emotions.
4) It’s a Marathon
Discipline is not about instant results. If that’s what you’re expecting then you’re going to feel defeated and frustrated at both yourself and your child.
It is a marathon.
I know how tempting it is to feel as though it’s useless and isn’t working because your child’s behaviour isn’t changing. I mean the simple nature of disciplining is exhausting in and of itself. If you’re doing it correctly then the consistency that is required takes a lot of stamina.
Not only that, but true disciplining requires an emotional investment on your behalf. That’s not to say that you should allow those emotions to dictate how you’re disciplining, but only that you care. You care when your child’s eyes hold a look of defiance. You feel saddened by how difficult they’re making the situation for themselves.
It’s difficult as a parent to see your child behaving in selfishness because you know the heartache that it will bring them.
Yes, evaluate what is most effective when it comes to disciplining your child, but don’t mistake it for not working just because you don’t see change overnight.
Your child will learn if you remain consistent and fair.
5) You Can Only Do Your Best
This is the most difficult part of parenting. Letting go.
Knowing that no matter how much you try, you can only do your best.
You cannot change your child.
This can be applied to so many areas – sleep, eating, play, work, etc. You can teach and you can provide the best possible circumstances, but you can’t force your child to be something or someone that they are not.
Personally, I feel as though this is a good thing because it allows me to lean on Christ more. I know that while He has given my children to me to raise, they are ultimately His.
And as frustrating as it is when they don’t behave as we would hope they would, there is something wonderful about how unique and individual each of us ais Without free will we would be a bunch of somewhat boring robots.
I think another thing that should be noted is that we are not perfect. It is not possible or necessary for us to raise perfect children. They are going to fail because you are going to fail. We all need grace.
Before having children of my own I often thought that by doing ‘xyz’ with your children you would get the result you were looking for. The reality is quite different. Discipline, parenting, and life just aren’t black and white like that.
Discipline isn’t about having a child that behaves like an angel. If you have that but not their heart, you have nothing at all.
Until next time!