Most new parents have reached a consensus that nowadays, children are much brighter and smarter than when the parents were at their age. The grandparents lend support to this theory. In fact, my mum did exclaim that when I was 3 years old, I could quietly sit by myself in a playpen to play with just a handful of toys for the day. Not so with my daughter. Give her a new toy and it will probably just keep her amused for 30 minutes at the most.
I wonder if the being brighter or smarter has got to do with the milk formulas today. All those D.H.A, A.H.A., S.A., Taurine etc laden milk formulas must have done something to these kids' brains. Even milk powder for mothers-to-be and lactating mothers are packed with these nutrients which supposedly gives the babies an advantage. Mind you, milk powder is not cheap nowadays and we usually scout for the best bargains we can find especially through the hypermarket price wars.
Anyway, back to these smart and intelligent kids. It is becoming a real challenge to discipline them nowadays. Sometimes, they are able to respond in such an intelligent manner that you become dumbfounded and speechless! My mum and dad, who takes care of my daughters in the day time, have documented a couple of times when they "lost out" in the battle of words with my elder daughter. Whilst feeling exasperated, they can't stop feeling amused at the same time.
So, how then do you discipline kids nowadays? Do we follow what the latest scientific research tells us to do? The popular method nowadays is to be a friend of the child. No more corporal punishment less it scars the child mentally. And is it so that we see so many children misbehaving or rather, run around the place uncontrolled? Sometimes I feel sad to see parents having no control over their child. Whenever the child cries, the parents will try to appease the child with something or anything which will make the child stop crying. Toys, food, funny faces etc. Usually, when asked, the parents will say that the child is still too young to understand. Probably. But I personally do not think so. A baby is able to communicate with the parents by making known his needs by crying. A toddler can point at things he wants or push away things he does not want. So, why are they too young to learn a little bit about discipline? Such as keeping quiet when the occasion demands it? Or not running around when it could pose dangers?
I believe that children, once accustomed to getting their own ways in matters, will use these to manipulate the parents as they get older. I know for a fact that my daughter will try to take advantage of my parents when I am not around. It's like she uses psychological manipulation to get what she wants knowing that my parents, especially dad, usually gives in. It then becomes a further challenge to convince my parents that they are being manipulated by my daughter for my daughter's needs!
Taking heed of the Bible, these are some of the examples of how to discipline a child found on the Net which I find most relevant and useful indeed. The principles are universal and applicable whether one is a Christian or not.
SOME PRINCIPLES FOR DISCIPLINING CHILDREN
1. REALIZE THAT GOD GIVES PARENTS THE AUTHORITY TO DISCIPLINE THEIR CHILDREN. Yes, the family is the only institution that God gives such authority. No state, no school, no church has this right to usurp this authority except and unless the children are in some physical or extremely emotional danger of abuse (Col 3:30; Matt. 15:4; Exo. 21:15,17; Prov 30:17).
2. PARENTS ARE TO USE CORPORAL DISCIPLINE ON UNRULY, REBELLIOUS CHILDREN. The Bible's call and commands are evident as I read before. However, this is always to be the last measure, not the first. Learn to vary the forms of discipline. Use things such as "time out," loss of privileges, extra chores, monetary fines, etc., for these are valid means of disciplines that can be effective training procedures too (Prov 13:24; 19:18;23:13-14; 29:15,17).
3. WHEN USING CORPORAL DISCIPLINE, IT MUST NEVER BE DONE EXCEPT IN LOVE. We must remember the definition of discipline. It is loving correction and training for the good of the child. We must never discipline in anger, or when we have lost our temper and control. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:5-6 (NLT) "… "My child, don't ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don't be discouraged when he corrects you. 6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children."" Thus, a lack of Biblical discipline is really evidence of a lack of true care and love.
4. BEFORE USING CORPORAL DISCIPLINE BE SURE THE CHILD KNOWS THE RULES! Often a child disobeys simply because he or she does not clearly know the rules. Many homes have none established. Sit down with your children and pre-establish a set of infractions and disciplines for them. Let the child know before hand, what they will get if they disobey. Consistency of discipline is vital for a child to learn thereby (Prov 13:24).
5. PARENTS ARE TO EQUALLY SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DISCIPLINING A CHILD. It is not always mom's job or dad's either. Never say, "wait till your father gets home." The most effective disciplines are carried out swiftly upon discovery of the infraction. However, when Dad is home God appoints him the deputy of the home and it is his responsibility to carry out loving discipline ( Joshua 24:15; 1 Tim 3:4-5).
6. VARY DISCIPLINE ACCORDING TO THE AGE OF YOUR CHILDREN. Now its not to early to swat a child's behind even in the first few months of life. A gentle but firm swat when a child display a temper tantrum sets the beginning understanding of training and limits of personal freedom. However, corporal discipline I believe is ineffective an inappropriate for a child who reaches the teen years. By then it is too late. The child stage of life that is from birth to the preteen years is when most behavioral patterns are established for life. These are the years parents maintain external controls until internal controls are established. Corrective and other disciplines establish them. By the teen years a child should have learned respect for authority, the rights of others, honesty, harmony, patience, self-control, the value of study and work, concern for others, personal contentment and the need to surrender to God's will for the ultimate happiness of life.
7. WHEN DISCIPLINING A CHILD, NEVER USE YOUR HAND. God gave us our hands to do good and bring joy into others lives. All physical discipline should be an external object such as a flat rounded edged paddle or a fine switch from a tree. Also, all physical discipline should always be on the "derrière," and no where else! Slapping a face, hitting above the belt, or on the legs are inappropriate and can cause deep and intense humiliation and even injury. We must never injure a child by discipline, never!! However the Bible does say, Proverbs 23:13-14 (NLT) "Don't fail to correct your children. They won't die if you spank them. 14 Physical discipline may well save them from death."
Proverbs 20:30 (NLT) "Physical punishment cleanses away evil; such discipline purifies the heart."
8. ALWAYS WHEN DISCIPLINING, BE SURE TO PHYSICALLY SHOW YOUR LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE FOR YOUR CHILD. After a discipline session is over, be sure to hug your child, pray with them and together, ask God to bless your relationship. A child needs to know that you loved him or her, before you disciplined them, and you disciplined them because you loved them, and now that it is over, you will love them always and forever. This is the message of the Bible to all fallen sinners. God never stops loving us ( Heb.12:5-6).
How are kids disciplined around you? In whatever circumstances, children are God's gift to us and we have a responsibility to bring them up properly and with the right perspective. I don't claim to be an expert in child care and I confess that it is a very big challenge for me and my wife. It is also a very humbling experience. For it is when one disciplines a child that one realises how God has been so patient with us despite our errors, stubborness and rebellious ways.
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