8 Paradigm Shapers for Making Discipline Decisions as a Parent

Time Out

I frequently have parents ask me what type of discipline they should use with their children. I’m glad parents are asking the question, but I seldom can give a standard answer for every situation.

I prefer to use a paradigm through which parents can make their own decisions. That’s the purpose of this post.

Perhaps these steps will help you make wiser decisions regarding discipline.

Here are 8 paradigm shapers for making discipline decisions as a parent:

Have a vision – If you don’t know where you want to take children you’ll be less likely to take them there. This should be decided before the need for discipline arises and it should ultimately help shape the discipline you use.

Have a purpose – The purpose of discipline should not be to cause harm, but to teach. Discipline is to help a child learn how to live. Keep this in mind as you discipline and it will help you make wiser choices. Ask yourself, “What can I do to best teach my child what he (or she) needs to learn from this experience?”

Step back and process – Immediately after an offense is not always the best time to administer punishment. It’s okay to let children wait for a response. Sometimes this is the best discipline for the child and it almost always makes your decision better. This step becomes more important as they get older and the discipline decisions become more difficult.

Never make a decision in anger – You don’t want emotions to make the decision. You want a well thought out response.

Consider the bigger picture – This is where having a plan/vision comes in handy. Considering where you want to take the child, how they are progressing in life, and the motivation of their heart, what punishment will most help accomplish your objectives for the child in this specific circumstance?

Make the punishment fit the offense – In my opinion, you shouldn’t have a standard punishment. Grounding for older children or time-out for younger children may work in some circumstances but not in others.

Make the punishment fit the child – All children are different, learn differently and require different methods to teach the principles you want to teach.

Reinforce love – Every discipline should be used as an opportunity to show children how much they are loved.

Let’s face it, parenting is hard work. I’m hesitant to say anyone is an “expert” in this subject. We all have room for improvement. I’m not assuming you will carry around this list in your pocket, whipping it out at the appropriate time of need, but I do believe having a framework of this sort in your schema will help you better address the issues of discipline you face as a parent.

In the end, having this type of paradigm thought process, before the need for discipline arises, should help us be better parents.

What is the most difficult issue you deal with regarding discipline? What would you add to my list?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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18 thoughts on “8 Paradigm Shapers for Making Discipline Decisions as a Parent

  1. Because God tells us to honor the father and mother, the both should be a part of discipline. I am glad to see, for once, a man speaking respectfully about wives.

  2. A factor that's worth mentioning is that parents who participate in the discipline of their children should be on the same page.

    Many parents today are raising their kids alone. That's unfortunate. A single point of reference doesn't present a strong position for discipline, but if it's all you have then give it your best. This should also be where involvement in a body of believers can come in handy and provide backup and support for necessary discipline.

    Some parents are divorced and share discipline between separated parents and step-parents. It is too often a point of contention and is typically used as a battleground for divorced parents to manifest their differences. This couldn't be worse for the kids. I would say that it's as bad as sexual abuse in terms of the fallout for their moral development. If you care for your kids, you will sacrificially work out consistent discipline with your kid's other parent(s), including any step-parents with the understanding that you may not get the same consideration.

    Married people typically disagree. Don't disagree on this. My wife and I have different methods for handling discipline, but we have worked out a way for using the strengths of each by setting up an echelon system of discipline. Her method is first echelon because it's more persuasive and less direct. When that fails, we fall back to the second echelon, mine, which is more severe. She's really good at the way she disciplines and we typically have not had to resort to mine. I don't let her be the bad guy, though, because I support her discipline. That leads to a next point:

    Parents need not stick up for themselves against their kids when their kids rebel. Rather, parents should demonstrate the respect for their spouse that they want their kids to emulate and then scold their kids when they don't emulate that respect. Dads should say, "Respect your mother and heed her!" Moms should say, "Respect your father and heed him!" This includes being aware that kids can figure out how to play you against each other. When we have a kid come up to either one of us independently and ask us for something that might possibly require a "no", we ask, "What has your mother (or father) told you?" That puts the onus for being honest on them. Whatever answer either of us gives is given with the assumption that the child has been honest. If they haven't dealt honestly, then all bets are off.

    One last thing: my wife and I sit down occasionally and discuss our childrens' spiritual development. This is good for all Christian parents to do. It helps you to develop intentional strategies for your kids for integrating discipline into their evangelization and discipleship. This falls under the point, "Consider the Bigger Picture". How you discipline your kids is part and parcel of how you disciple them. If you aren't on the same page with your spouse, it won't happen easily if at all.

  3. Think Biblical first. If you do this, the rest just falls into place. Parenting won’t be always easy, but with that purpose in your heart and mind, it gets so much more fulfilling. Your purpose in parenting becomes obvious, and your focus becomes clear. Check out Christianwebmd.com for more.

  4. God is sovereign. Thank you for the list as we have a new 12 year old foster child (his sibs 16 and 17 we adopted 14 years ago). Very challenging adding a totally undisciplined kid into the mix and watching "biology" (sin tendency) so obvious. Without Christ and unimaginable worldly influences. Amazing where kids standards come from and appalling that adults can do this to kids.

    I would add, make the "punishment" fit the crime.
    I have learned consistency and clarity are very important.
    Now just to do it and find this all a worthy "job". It can feel lonely and defeating, parenting with purpose.

    Note: Read yesterday and today, 1 Chron 22 David speaks to Solomon "the LORD give you wisdom and understanding', and authority so that.. 2 Chron 1:10 Solomon asks God for wisdom and knowledge to rule Your people. What am I speaking into my children?

    Twitter: eccle0412

  5. Perfect timing! My second son just hit the "terrible twos." And he conflicts with my 6 year old all the time! Great input.

    I would add, Make sure that discipline is necessary. Last night my 2 year would NOT go to sleep! I kept telling him to stop crying, it's bedtime, etc. Turns out, he needed a diaper change. No wonder… I was getting frustrated enough to discipline him, but I'm glad I checked all my options before I did.

    Great insights today!

  6. Even though I am single, I think the parents find the following difficult :

    — Making the kids realize that character is more important than charisma
    — Teaching them that value & ethics is more important than money
    — Confronting their deviation and disobedience in a positive constructive way

  7. I'm not a parent, but I would add "admit when you made a mistake and say sorry" My father could not do this and it destroyed our relationship. When you have more than one kid, sometimes you punish the wrong child.