A young mother worked to get her children ready for a shopping trip. She bathed and dressed her infant and then began the task of getting her two year old daughter ready. The little girl was playing with her toys when her mother told her to come and get ready to go. As usual, the little girl disregarded her mother’s commands and continued to play. The mother gave several warnings which also went unheeded and finally the mother walked over to her daughter but the child ran down the hall in rebellious disobedience. The mother ran and caught the child and took her, kicking and screaming, into the bedroom to get her dressed. It was a familiar seen that had become quite common in their household.
After getting her children ready, the young mother took them shopping and parked the family car on a busy downtown street. She first got her two year old daughter out of the car seat and held her hand as they walked to the other side of the car. She gave her two year old daughter clear instructions to stand still at her side and do not move. She then leaned inside the car to get her infant child from the car seat.
As soon as she turned her head, the two year old girl disobeyed her mother and walked away, heading toward the busy street behind the car. The mother looked back to find her daughter walking toward the street and shouted for her to stop, but the girl, as usual, paid no attention to the mother’s words.
Before the mother could react, the girl walked into the busy street into the path of unsuspecting motorists. The sound of the mother’s screams and the screeching of tires announced the tragedy that day…I’ll leave the outcome to your imagination.
The above story is fiction. If it resembles any actual incident, it is purely co-incidental. But the story depicts the tragic results that could occur when a child in not properly disciplined. I have personally witnessed parents having to chase their small child because he or she would not stop and come to them on command.
While this kind of disobedience may seem harmless, it demonstrates a gross lack of discipline and there are obviously situations where this lack of discipline can be deadly. I have seen parents whose children are so disobedient and undisciplined that they must literally put them on a leash when taking them out in public because they fear such a tragedy.
The importance of proper child discipline cannot be overemphasized. Solomon states in Proverbs 19:18, Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death. Yes, proper discipline is truly a matter of life and death for a child and loving, responsible parent will be diligent in the discipline of their children.
There are four major components to good child discipline. The first is CLEAR COMMUNICATION. Parents should communicate instructions to their child in a way that is age appropriate and understandable. With young children, this requires repetition and it also helps to have the child repeat the instruction to make sure he or she fully understands. Without clearly communicated instructions and boundaries, it is impossible to have proper discipline.
The second component of good child discipline is IMMEDIATE OBEDIENCE. Many parents believe they are being “patient” when they give their child a command followed by several warnings and then, when the child still does not obey, to take the child by the hand and manually force the child’s obedience. This is not “patience”! It is not “discipline”! It is “neglect”! There are situations where a child’s immediate obedience to a parents command can be the difference between life and death.
The third component of good child discipline is swift and sure PUNISHMENT FOR DISOBEDIENCE. Children should never be punished for misunderstanding or for making a mistake, but when parental commands have been clearly communicated and understood by the child, no response, other than immediate obedience, should be acceptable. Deliberate refusal or even hesitation to obey is a form of rebellion and should be met with “the rod of correction”. A well-disciplined child will respond to parental commands immediately and without hesitation. When a child does not respond in this manner, it is a reflection, not on the child, but on the parents and their failure to discipline.
The forth component of good child discipline is CONSISTENCY. It is so important for a child to have consistent boundaries. Parents should realize that all children will test the boundaries—it is the only way a child has of understanding the boundaries. It is a parent’s responsibility to establish these boundaries and to make sure they are clearly communicated and consistently enforced. Inconsistency leads only to confusion but consistency in commands and instruction and consistency in punishment for deliberate disobedience will enable the child to get a good understanding of the boundaries.
We are told in 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. Parents, you have an awesome responsibility to disciplining your children. This responsibility must not be taken lightly. Your child’s life depends on it!