Discipling Your Children

This parenting journey that Chris and I are on is a brilliantly, terrifying one. We feel like we have done a lot to train our sons but know there is always room for improvement. Would you share one of your discipling tools with me that you do with your children?  (Spiritual issues, dealing with character/work ethic/serving others)

23 thoughts on “Discipling Your Children”

  1. We try to teach our kids that sin always hurts someone. So when they disobey (or, that harser word, SIN), we ask them to think about the person or people that their disobedience or poor decision hurt, and ask them to write an apology letter. Generally as we pray and wait for them to process it all, the letter is heartfelt. I said generally! Ha!

  2. Hi Cindy!
    We have 3 kids (not pros at discipline) but one thing we live by is this: “We like our kids but want to make sure others like them as well”. Meaning I hope others aren’t thanking God when my kids leave their house!! So we make every effort to teach our kids manners to adults, to respect others property and to think of others above themselves. Basically it all goes down to respecting others.

    Can’t wait to read others ideas. We all need a little help! 🙂

  3. Well… in disciplining, two things come to mind that we used, that aren’t so common (from what I’ve seen.)

    idea #1…you know the whole counting-thing…and the kid’s misbehaving in the store because they know you won’t yell or spank or anything right there in the store? Well…that’s when I count. But it’s my own version. Each number stands for 1 degree of discipline. (What that is depends on their age. 1 swat. 5 minutes of standing in the corner. 1 extra chore, etc.) So when my kids were little, and they’d start to misbehave in public, all I’d have to do is say quietly, “I’m going to start counting!” Sometimes that did it…but more often they’d test me and wait ’till the first quiet, “That’s one!” I think the highest I ever had to count was six, but they were really wound up that day. Usually 1 or 2 was as high as I’d get, and they’d spend the rest of the shopping trip with a long face – behaving perfectly – because they knew what was coming when they got home. It absolutely stunk to have to do it when we got home, but it was worth having well-mannered kids in public!

    2) Now that they’re older, and I’m starting to get tired of having them do something half-way…or having to say the same thing 3 or 4 times…etc. I’m working to make it plain that doing something well, once, is always better than the alternative. So if I tell them to put something away, and I find it laying on the floor in their room…not put away… I have them put it away, then get it back out, carry it to where I originally found it and drop it on the floor, then walk back and put it away again… 30 times. Then I remind them that they could have chosen to do it only once. It’s AMAZING how well this works!

    non-discipline-wise…I read the Bible with my kids in the morning. (most of the time) But not a kid’s Bible… my NAS. There is NOTHING like reading it out loud, working to make the scenes come alive to help them understand…and answering their surprisingly deep questions…to not only show them how the Bible applies to their lives, but also make the Bible come more alive to me. I’ve been doing this since mine were 8, 6, and 4…so they’re never too young!

  4. Boundaries give security so we always try to communicate the boundaries that are important to us. Boundaries also build character because it is quantifiable. As far as work ethic I think the best way is to include them when we work so they see by example what it means to work. You will have to endure a lot (slower at getting things done and many mistakes) but I’ve seen it pay off. Dirk

  5. When one of our kids deliberately wrongs another, we have them apologize, then have them think of an act of service they can do for the offended, just to remind them that they love them. We always let them chill for a bit before they decide, so it is done with love, not resentment.

    Also now that they are getting older, I have a stack of cards with housekeeping jobs I hate to do. When we have discipline issues, I just start handing them out until the child stops the behavior. My reward for putting up with the disobedience is a clean house. 🙂 Sometimes when the kitchen floor needs cleaning David suggests that I set one of the kids off. 🙂

  6. Katie, your idea about the store is super! I have gone back and forth about the effectiveness of counting. But when you put a punishment behind it like you did, that is a great idea!

    I like the other idea too, I’ll remember that for when my own kids get older.

    I have five children. Sometimes it gets a little hard to keep track of who has been punished for what, and for how long. So I implimented a system with my monthly calendar. I have a magnetic white board and each kid has a color. There are two magnets. I put one by the child’s name, and one by the day that their restriction is lifted. That way they don’t ask me every day “do I get (insert item taken away) back today?”

    We’re really working on listening skills around here. There are automatic consequences, depending on the situation, if my children goof off or don’t pay attention when mom, dad or any other adult is talking to them. I believe this will help them to respect others in the future. (Teachers, bosses, etc.)

    Also, whenever I deal out consequences, I tell them what will happen if they behave that way again. For example: “Boys, because you chose not to listen to me you will go to your room and sit in silence on your beds for 10 minutes. If you get off your beds or talk or laugh in any way, I will add another 5 minutes to your time out.”

    (This just happened last night!) I want them to think about what they did wrong, not play and have fun while they are in time out. It also gives them something to think about when they know what will happen next.

  7. We talk alot. Sometimes I think too much about the consequences of their actions/words.

    If someone has hurt their feelings and they “want to get back at them”. We talk about how they are feeling. Do they really want to inflict that pain on someone else?

    If one of them has been rude/disruptive/snotty to an adult. This is when we get to see their writing skills. They not only write a letter of apology to the adult but they send it to them requesting their forgiveness. Ryan has only had to write one letter and has chosen not to act in a way that will require a second one. Hope, My Sweet Sweet Hope, she is usually writing one to a teacher every couple of months for talking in class. It has tapered off a little since the teacher and I decided that she was going to have to read the next letter out loud in front of the class.

    As you know from me saying it….I take their things away. Cell phones, MP3 players, Skateboards, Freedom, TV’s. Usually when I take it away I leave it somewhere they can see it but know they can’t have it.

    Nothing physical effects them. We haven’t spanked the kids in years. Even then we only did for things that were life threatening…Like running into the street.

    I have been told that I am too hard on them and then I have been told that I am too easy on them. I really want my kids to grow up to be responsible, self sufficient, non-burdens to society. I also want them to still love me, visit me, and have me some grandchildren later. 🙂

  8. I have to tell all of you that I am laughing right now – mostly at myself. When I first read this – I read “disciplining”…which seems to me that this is what everyone else read, and I thought “oh, great topic – I need advice on this too”. Then I read it later again – and it says “discipling” to which I think more in terms of spiritual growth, guidance, God’s Word, etc. and I thought “oh, wow – I need advice on this too!!!!”.

    Which one is it? 🙂

  9. When it comes to discipling, I see my little ones like Jesus saw His disciples: always ripe for a good parable. All day long I take real life things that are happening in our house and figure out how to tie Scripture into them. More than once during the day you will hear me say, “Ya know, Judah, that is exactly how Jesus felt when…” or “Simeon, you are so right to think that way! That’s exactly how God thinks about His children in the book of…” It is fun and it makes Scripture come alive and helps them identify with their Creator and Savior in a whole different way. God’s Word is living and active and I think the absolute best thing we can do for our kids’ spiritual lives is to teach them to love Him and His Word and see how it applies to their lives.

  10. A few months ago I was going through some really hard times with my teenaged boy. I cried out to God in the shower, “Lord, what do you want me to do with this child?” His answer, “Discipline him.” OY. I used to make a lot of threats and never follow through. Who wants their child to hate them even if it’s temporary. Since God had those words of wisdom for me I started taking my place as a parent, not a friend or babysitter, and praise the Lord what a change! Say what you mean and mean what you say even if they call you mean. 🙂

  11. i am taking it one day at a time. and learning as i go.

    wow! sometimes i get scared at how much i don’t know about parenting. but them sometimes i realize that by allowing god to change me, my girls are changed too.

  12. We disciple as life happens. For example, my 6yo was singing the Brandon Heath song “Give Me Your Eyes.” I asked him if he knew what that meant, then had the opportunity to explain to him how we are called to be God’s eyes and help hurting people. We use moments like that teach.

    We also have a children’s devotional from the book of Psalms we do. We read it, then discuss. But, I find those life moments are the most teachable ones.

  13. We have used those Heritage Builder Tool Chest Family Nights, which are great and something we have kind of stunk with following through on consistently. But when we did them, they were really fun for the kids and it helped them “get it” because they learned a principle using their hands in some way, which has been way more effective than just reading to them or talking to them. But we do talk to them a whole lot…and we are always asking questions to help them dig deeper with the why we do or don’t do something–I don’t want moral robots-I want them to be changed by the renewing of their little minds in Christ, you know?
    Another thing that we do regularly is something we call the nickel jar. Each child starts off with $5 in nickels in their own jar and then my husband and I share a jar of $5 nickels too. When we catch them being good (serving out of their heart and not because they were asked to do something, good manners, sharing with joy, etc (heart matters, respect, putting others first kinds of things), we will reward them with nickels from our jar throughout the day. On the opposite side, if we see them begrudgingly sharing, selfishness, laziness, etc), we take nickels from their jar and put them into ours. At the end of the month, they count their nickels out and they can spend it how they want or save it for something special. It works really well for us and has really curbed the negative nagging that I felt like I was doing and instead has been a positive reinforcement.
    oh my goodness…that was really long-winded…

  14. my son is 20 months, so our discipline consists of time-out. However, I am trying to be the best witness I can be to him. I do believe that having his parents as good role models, reading the Word of God to him and correcting him when his actions are hurtful will help mature and hopefully he will remain the sweet and gentle soul he is…

    p.s. I am new to your blog. I came over from ‘a woman inspired 2009’

  15. HI CINDY,

  16. Both my boys when they were about 4 and in Mothers Day Out got a little wild. We spanked, I dropped in unannounced, sent to the office, Dad had lunch….the whole 9 yards….

    One day when I was picking up the 1st one, he had had an awful day and knew he was in trouble. I let him stew all the way home and then he walked to his room with his head down – he was just pathetic and quietly accepting what his behavior had brought him.

    I went to his room and then pulled him in my lap and we had an amazing talk about grace. He didnt get punnished and he really seemed to understand Grace and what our sin brings and what Christ took that we deserved.

    I have since done this with all the kids – taken something that so obviously deserves discipline and punishment and “let them go” with a talk of grace. They just seem to really understand being set free when they are personally experiencing it.

    All that said – we have done this once with each kid…other than that, this mom has a heart of stone 😉 kidding….but honestly, there is nothing better than having a child personally apologize to an adult and their child for how they behaved or hurt their child to make an impression….

  17. i’ve loved reading all these comments!!! love the ideas.

    we really try to focus on “wise choice/foolish choice”. and talk through what each of those means in different situations.

    and for gage, whose 4 1/2 sometimes wise choice is also referred to as batman and foolish choice is the joker… whatever works, right?!? 😉

  18. I love this thread! I am just now catching up on all my blog follows. 🙂 I’ll go back and re-read but wanted to share our little tip.

    We have a KIX jar and a HAPPY jar. Each child has a 🙁 jar and when they disobey, talk ugly, etc…they get a kix in their cup. Each kix represents 5 minutes to bed early off their bedtime. Trust me, when my 9 year old goes to bed the same time as the 4 year old b/c of a rough day. He GETS it. 🙂

    The Happy jar is for each week. When I see things that make me smile–a happy heart, a kind word, manners, love, etc. I write it down and put it in the happy jar on their specific color of paper. They love to see their color pile up. At the end of the week, the person with the most happy slips, picks something fun to do–cheap, but fun!

    Whenever we do discipline, the great thing is we have a sit down. I need the reminder of cooling off before some of our talks, but we have a sit down. Reminding them that God loves them so much and nothing takes that away. Also, that even though I get angry, I just love the snot out of them. FOREVER!

    Keep posting. I can’t wait to read more tips!

  19. Having five kids makes it quite difficult to disciple one on one. When they were younger we read easy to understand bible stories together as a family sitting around the living room floor and allowed them to read them as well. We also asked each one to share one thing a week they wanted to pray for their friends. This helped them to look outside of their own needs and think about others needs as well.

    Basically teaching them to begin habits early on that will hopefully last a lifetime.

    As they are now older I encourage them in the scriptures and share God’s view of the choices they are wanting to make. Granted, I am having to let go of the reigns quite a bit more but I still pray with them and try to teach them Gods word.

    We recently introduced my oldest, (now 20) to the left behind series… It is giving Him a fresh perspective of His relationship with God. For Christmas the ten year old received his first devotional and journal. Since he has been developing the habit of reading and praying from day one, he can’t go to bed at night until he has read it.

    proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4

    The best tool I have used is to be an example to my kids. There are thousands of Bible studies, devotions, etc… that can side track from the main purpose of discipleship and that is to be an imitator of Christ.

    Show your kids Christ in your life and teach them to show Him to others…

    That is my thought on discipleship… rather than discipline 🙂


  20. This book (making children mind without losing yours) by Dr Kevin Leman is a blessing. if you don’t have it already, please grab a copy… just a lifesaver! 🙂

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