Biblical and Practical Thoughts on Parenting, Part 14: Twenty-One Ways to Better Discipline Your Children

As we go through this series, we have covered a number of broad topics within the greater area of what it means to be a godly parent. One issue that can be a challenge for many is how to discipline children effectively and appropriately. Here are 21 ways that can help in navigating best practices. 

1) Positive action usually elicits desirable behavior sooner than negative action.

2) Use praise more than blame.

3) Identify problem areas and seek to deal with them before conflict develops.

4) Encourage rather than nag.

5) Strive for fairness.

6) Listen to explanations before drawing final conclusions and making final decisions.

7) Be consistent, but not inflexible.

8) Avoid ridicule, sarcasm, and irony.

9) Explain your decisions when possible, but expect instant obedience when necessary.

10) Set definite, clear limits of behavior, avoiding detailed or arbitrary rules that confuse.

11) Make absolute decisions slowly, especially when tense or tired.  Use “maybe” instead of “no,” or “I’ll think it over.”

12) Consider individual differences in children and make judgments accordingly.

13) If negative measures are warranted, administer them wisely.

14) Distinguish between training and punishment.  Many careless and awkward actions can be improved only by consistent reminders over a long period of time, whereas deliberate misconduct should be punished immediately.

15) Punish on the basis of motive, not of results.  A lie should be dealt with more severely than a spilled bowl of cereal.

16) Fit the punishment to the offense.  Public humiliation or group chastening is seldom effective.

17) Avoid disciplinary measures at the table.  A healthy atmosphere during meals should be encouraged.

18) Delay severe punishment until you are calm and controlled.  Impulsive decisions are usually regretted.

19) Do not threaten the child.  Either punish or forgo punishment.

20) Do not punish the children by making them do the things they should enjoy.  For example, parents have sometimes forced a child to read poetry or the Bible for punishment.

21) Keep rules at a minimum but enforce those which are established.

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