Memory Monday: Discipline (Proverbs 3:11-12)

Every now and then, I hear from readers who want to know why I've never tackled the topic of discipline in this space. Honestly, I've left discipline alone because it's such a broad and difficult topic. There's no one way to discipline your kids. What works in our house may or may not work in yours. The discipline I'm comfortable with handing out may not be the one that you're comfortable with.

However, in the past few weeks, God has been showing me that there are some commonalities to all forms of discipline. For discipline to be effective, we have to understand what it is, why we should discipline and how God views discipline.

All week, the blog is going to look at discipline. Today, we're going to examine what discipline is and what it isn't. Tomorrow, we'll look at why a one-size-fits-all approach is a terrible way to approach discipline. Wednesday, we'll focus on our kids' personalities and how they should affect the way we discipline each of our kids. In Thursday's blog, we'll look at some practical ideas for disciplining our kids.

The word discipline rarely brings to mind warm and fuzzy thoughts of a loving relationship. More often it conjures up a picture of sternness and punishment. So, what is the true picture of discipline?

  • Discipline stems from love. Proverbs 3:11-12 says, "My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." God disciplines us because He loves us. We should approach discipline with our children as an act of love -- not one of anger or frustration. Never discipline your children when you are angry. Your kids won't learn anything and your discipline will become punishment.
  • Discipline is not punishment. Punishment is designed to hurt someone. It is a sentence for a crime. Discipline is designed to teach our children. If we hand out discipline to our children without helping them learn something from the situation, then we're not disciplining, we're punishing. Discipline provides our kids with the tools to change the way they handle the same situation in the future. Punishment does not.
  • Discipline should touch the heart. When we discipline our children, we are looking to change their hearts. We can get our children to follow any rules we set up with a grudging attitude. They can choose to follow those rules without ever engaging their hearts. Discipline should focus on heart change, not just behavior change.
  • Discipline must fit your child. Every child is different, and no one method of discipline is going to work for every child. We use different methods on each of our girls. Their personalities are so different that using the same methods on both kids would be a waste of time. Sometimes, it takes a few tries to figure out what works with your child.

I think disciplining our kids is one of the hardest parts of being a parent. However, God discipline us because He loves us. If we model our parenting on God, then we need to look at disciplining our children as an act of love, as well. Memorize Proverbs 3:11-12 this week as you examine your heart and attitude toward disciplining your children.