Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Discipline And Unconditional Love

This past weekend I questioned the concept of disciplining children by withholding love and acceptance. I said our children should never wonder whether we love them and fully accept them just as they are. (Remember the last word of Proverbs 3:12.)

The question is, How do you do that?

Well, I’m not the world’s greatest expert, but I think it can help to focus on actions/consequences instead of crime/punishment. In other words, during discipline our talk should be about “You did X, and the result/consequence of doing X is Y,” not “I can’t believe you did that! I’m so disappointed!”

And while it can’t always work this way, things work best if the child already knows the consequences before the offense is even committed. (And it works even better if the child has already agreed to the appropriate consequences prior to the action as well.)

The value of this form of discipline is that it makes it easy to maintain love and acceptance even during discipline. “You’re receiving this discipline not because I’m mad at you or don’t love you. This is happening because I love you and you need to learn that actions have consequences.”

Will you be able to stay that calm and always discipline this way? I don’t know. I know I don’t always succeed. But it’s a good model that sure beats making your child question your love—and their value.

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