No one likes to receive discipline. And in reality, very few people even talk about discipline – and those who do talk about discipline, are usually looking at it in the wrong way.
Discipline, in order to be effective, needs to be understood from the Life Is Full Of Choices perspective.
The words we need to know are boundaries, discipline and consistency. We must understand how they relate to each other and how they contribute to raising a responsible adult.
In its purest form, in order for discipline to be effective, I must believe, before I chose to commit the act, that I would be disciplined for it. Also, I need to know beforehand what the consequences of choosing to act in a certain way will bring.
So, in simple terms, according to Life Is Full Of Choices, discipline is just following through with the consequences your child is asking for. Discipline and consequences are the same thing. Discipline is just giving people the consequences they asked for by them choosing to cross a boundary.
I must know where the boundary is. I call it a “known boundary”.
- If I choose to lie, I needed to know before I lied that there would be consequences for lying – and what those consequences would be.
- If I choose to steal I needed to know before I stole that there would be consequences for stealing – and what those consequences would be.
- If I choose to riot and burn buildings I needed to know before I participated in that riot that there would be consequences – and what those consequences would be.
Now the truth is I might not get caught so there would be no discipline. But in all things there are consequences. How I see myself, how other people see me, and the guilt that will eventually overwhelm me (if I am a fairly normal human being) are all consequences that will follow you though life.
Discipline (consequences) is an important part of culture.
Every group of people, not some – not a few, not many, but every people group has a list of “right and wrong” for their culture. When you do the right thing you will be rewarded. When you do the wrong thing you will face the consequences.
And when that list is lost, forgotten or thrown away you are left with anarchy – and with anarchy, chaos happens.
As a culture, we can have the standards, BUT when those standards are not enforced (the list is lost, forgotten or thrown away) you will have anarchy and chaos.
Discipline is what holds that group of people together.
What makes discipline so powerful is consistency.
There was a time when everyone on the block knew what the kids were doing and would tell their parents if they saw a kid doing something wrong. That day is long gone.
Earlier I talked about lying, stealing and rioting. If we, as a people perceive that there will be no consequences to me to participate in one of these activities then I, and everyone I know, are free to participate with no fear of the cost to me. The result is Chaos!
And that is the issue with discipline. It is directly related to boundaries.
We, as people, want to understand the list that our people group has of right and wrong. We grow up wanting boundaries. With firm boundaries we know where to go, how to act and what to do.
Without boundaries we are unsettled, much is unknown. I do not know the consequences if I choose to act or not to act.
Little children act and react in ways with the sole purpose of finding out where the boundaries are. When there are no felt consequences they keep pushing the line to find the boundary.
A felt consequence is something done to a person so they will remember. For example: When I cross a boundary a favorite toy is taken for a period of time, or a favorite activity is canceled. Something happens to me when I choose an act – and I feel it.
When told “you can play in the yard but do not go onto the sidewalk” a young child will come up to the sidewalk and put his little toe one half inch onto the cement just to verify if the sidewalk is a real boundary. If I, as the parent, choose to do nothing, he/she will put his whole foot on the sidewalk. If I do nothing he/she will step over the sidewalk and keep walking. Eventually he or she is playing in the street until I choose to enforce the consequence. Then he/she will understand where he or she is standing is really the boundary because that is where the consequences happen and the process will start all over again.
The consequences I enforce will help my child understand where the boundaries are. The boundaries are not where I say they are. The boundaries are where I react when my child crosses the line.
I am responsible for my children understanding of what is right and wrong.
Our culture has forgotten it is my responsibility to raise my children. The result is I have chosen to give my responsibility to baby sitters, teachers, neighbors, the police and almost anyone who is handy.
The result of my choice is visible every night on the news:
- Participants who lose in sporting activities, assaulting others because they lose
- Shoplifting by groups or individuals
- Protests that turn violent
- Kids killing other people
- Gangs and all their activities
These are just a few of the examples of parents not raising their kids with a clear understanding of where the boundaries are in order for them to grow up and become responsible adults.
We are on the verge of loosing our “people group” because, as a country, we have stopped enforcing the list or we have lost the list.
Maybe the fault is ours as parents. Maybe it is the government’s fault because they encourage us to give over the training of our kids to others. Maybe it is the fault of us, as a people group, because we have changed the list and no one knows where the boundaries are anymore.
I do not know where the fault lies, but I do know how to fix the problem.
As a parent I need to make the choice to take back the responsibility of showing my kids where the lines are and training them to obey the lines.
If they are small kids that is relatively easy. I need to sit them down, ask for forgiveness for not doing my job as a parent, then tell them what is expected of them.
Once they understand where the lines are I need to be consistent with the consequences when they test those lines, because they will test them.
Really they are not testing the lines, they are testing me to see if I will follow though on what I said. They want to know if they can trust me. If I earn their trust by being consistent, life will get easier. They will continue to test me, but the tests will get fewer as time goes by.
If I have chosen not to be consistent with my young children they will grow up not believing I will do what I say. I have not earned their trust, therefor I am untrustworthy.
Now if your kids are older it gets more difficult.
An older child who has not learned to trust his parents (because his parents have not earned that trust by being consistent with the boundaries) is very difficult to control. They do not recognize boundaries or the authorities who are over them.
Depending on their age, sometimes disciplining them is more than I can handle. I may need to get the authorities involved.
I need to choose:
Do I want to have an adult child, who is acing like a little child, testing to find out where the line between right and wrong is.
On the other hand, do I want a child who is an adult with a clear understanding of right and wrong? One who possesses the ability to stay on the right side even when there is pressure from “friends” to do what is wrong.
What is more important. Do I continue to raise my child to be a responsible adult OR am I to embarrassed to do anything about the actions of my “adult” child?
If you are watching the news and see your adult child, or relative, or friend on the news participating in an activity that is wrong, and you choose to do nothing, then you are part of the problem.
The choice is yours.