Christ Centered Discipline
Many of you are in the thick of disciplining your young kids right now so I want to take a moment to encourage you and give you a booster shot in the arm... to KEEP IT UP!! It is so easy to get complacent and lazy so I have to review biblical principals of discipline myself on a regular basis.
Discipline moments can be redeemed for the gospel. Don't be discouraged, these moments are an open door to teach your children about Christ.
Discipling without the gospel might cause behavior changes, but is not making spiritual progress. Think about the difference. Think about your discipline. Where does your discipline fall in.. is it gospel/Christ centered? Are you making those heart connections with your kids, or do you just want them to obey so life is easier?
Set the stage for Christ centered discipline, by having Christ in the center. Have God be the one they are sinning against. Have Him be the one who is rejoicing when they obey. Guide your children on a daily basis to become more and more in love with an awesome Creator. Study your child. Find out what fascinates them. Link the fascination to such a kind and loving God who makes all these wonderful creations for us. My daughter was obsessed with ladybugs. When we ordered a ladybug farm and got ladybug larvae in the mail (yes, larvae... gross) she slept with the larvae container under her arm. This is how fascinated she was with ladybugs. I was able to show her that because she was a ladybug lover, she was really a God lover, since God created them. Does your boy love trains? God was the mastermind... causing a man to think up the idea to build a train. Praise God for trains! Your love for this great awesome God can be contagious to your kids.
Naturally then, if God is so great, it begs the question: How can we please Him with our lives? When you ask them- “do you think your behavior pleases the Lord?” If they are in love with God, they will care about the answer they give. If they don’t love God, they will be obeying to please you and your spouse, or for themselves in their pride. Start to re-structure your everyday language to be God centered. If you never talk about loving God, they will naturally just start to obey because they love you and it pleases you as their mom.
Once we love Him, and ask “How can we please Him in our lives?” We can bring out the Bible and explain that God gave rules to live by that will bring blessings. (as well as learning all the other stories and truths about God to leave us awestruck!)
As soon as kids start saying sentences, they can learn verses.
Here is a list of common verses I use when disciplining my kids.
(NKJV) Philippians 2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing
(ESV) John 13:34 ...love one another
(ESV) 1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
(ESV) Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always
(ESV) Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers
ESV) Titus 2:5/6 Be self-controlled (Titus 2:5 addressing young woman, 2:6 addressing young men)
(NASB) Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the gentle...
(NIV) Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive one another...
(ESV) Colossians 3:8- Put…away… anger (some versions say put off or put aside)
(ESV) Colossians 3:12- Put on… kindness
* A danger with the put off – put on method... if that is all they get, their heart will never change, only their behavior. In-between put off and put on needs to come training on how to change one’s heart/mind to hate the sin and desire righteousness or else it is just a behavior change. The biblical pattern of Eph 4:22-24 is Put Off – Be Renewed in Your Mind – Put On. This puts Christ at the center of our obedience, not our own will-power to just put off – put on.
(ESV) Proverbs 15:1 A harsh word stirs up anger, a gentle answer turns away wrath. *(good for mommies too!)
(Ex 20:15) You shall not steal.
(Prov 12:22) Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
(ESV) Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord.
(ESV) Deuteronomy 5:16 Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in ...
- EVERY SIN FALLS BACK TO A VERSE- My Katie is a screen licker. She LOVES to lick the screen door. She licks up, down, sideways... its gross. The sin of habitual screen licking (since I don’t have a verse for that one ;) - falls under “Obey your parents.” Therefore I can confidently say, “Screen licking is not pleasing to God” by default because it is not obeying mommy. (This one calls for constant explanation :)
Questions: Don’t just tell your child what is right and wrong all day. Get them involved and talking about their own sin. Ask them questions. How does a teacher in a class get kids brains to open up and really start to think? Questions!! All kinds and in lots of different ways.
Question examples: Are you obeying or disobeying right now? What does God want you to do, obey or disobey?
Is your heart happy or angry?
Right now are you being a peacemaker or a troublemaker? Which one would God want you to be? Lets find out from the verse.
When you took that toy, from your sister, was that selfish or selfless?
Examples of world focused statements in discipline: “Mommy wants you to be a generous boy” or “share so you can be nice to your friend” These statements are not “bad” but they are focused on mommy, the child and the friend. Get them focused... all day long... on God.
Review of Spanking
Never spank in anger. Spanking can be damaging to your children, if done in anger. Anger is one of the biggest stumbling blocks parents face with kids. I would like to do a brief biblical counseling review on anger. 99% of anger is self focused and selfish anger. We are upset by what is causing “ME” annoyance, frustration, and extra work, rather than being more sad with our children’s sin. We should have the desire to train and instruct, rather than make sure we “make a point” and show anger so they won’t do it again. Their sin should not surprise us, we are just as sinful and children may take years to learn to love God and want to obey. Getting angry will only stir up anger in our kids (or spouse). Steve M. says that when you are angry with your children, you cause them spiritual confusion. You are doing damage to them spiritually when you are angry, and causing them to want to imitate you.
If you become angry with your child, confess your sin and seek forgiveness biblically, right away. It can be hard in the moment, but give a heart-felt apology with the truth that even mommy and daddy are sinners. Don’t defend yourself or explain your sin. Confess what you did and that it was wrong and then ask for forgiveness. “I’m sorry. I was wrong when I _______. Please forgive me.” This is another opportunity to share the gospel and rejoice that the Lord has saved “mommy”! Praise God! Your true repentance will help the child learn how to confess their sin and ask for forgiveness. It will give them an example of what to do when they sin. It will help clear the spiritual confusion caused by becoming angry.
Don't stay in a pattern of anger at your children or spouse. Get help. There are vast resources in the Biblical Counseling department at NorthCreek and at the book store. There are numerous people you can call (any of us in OneLife) to hold you accountable. If you don’t fight it, the sin of anger gets bigger and bigger and you don’t want to pass it to your kids.
*Become sad at the sin instead of angry.
Acronym for Spanking: RASPBERRY
This is an example of a Biblically thought out way to spank your kids. This is my way, there are others out there with different ways. My children seem to have a healthy respect for this process of discipline, and since it is done in an abundance of love and training, they are not traumatized or terrified of it. ( and neither am I :)
R- Remove- remove the child from the situation (go in another room) goes back to Mathew 18, confronting people in private- even little people
A- Acknowledge the sin- Have the child say the sin out loud or at least admit to it. (*Occasionally the entire process is halted at this point. Listen to the child. Ask questions. Don’t assume you know the entire story or why the child did what they did. Let them explain. This may not be rebellion. Instruct ignorance, discipline rebellion.)
S- Spank Explain how many spanks they will get (we do 1-3 depending of the severity of the sin and the age of the child) This gives you accountability not to get carried away in anger and gives them security in knowing what to expect. Never leave a bruise and never break the skin. A flexible plastic material such as a fly swatter or flexible plastic ruler can give quite a sting without leaving a lasting mark. Try it on yourself first.
(Proverbs 13:24 whoever spars the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. Proverbs 12:1 whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. ) I love Proverbs 22:15 Spanking brings wisdom and drives out foolishness.
P- Pray- The p in raspberry is silent, and I almost forgot it... but don’t forget to pray! Pray for your little one’s heart to change and for true repentance and a heart that desires to please the Lord. On our own, we can’t stop sinning. We need His help!! Mathew 19:26 “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” As they grow older, you will then hear them transition to pray for their own heart change, which is incredibly sweet!!
B- Bible Verse- Teach them the specific Bible verses about the committed sin, and also the proverbs verses on why we need to do discipline. (Because we love them!)
E- Encourage your child! “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” we are going to do this... together! Mommy will help you, God will help you!
R- Rejoice in God’s forgiveness- Another opportunity to share the gospel. We all deserve to go to Hell as sinners, but God provided forgiveness through Jesus. What an awesome God!! What great news!
R- Review- At bedtime, go over what happened, the sin, and the verses, and/or review with Daddy when he gets home or with him before bed. (“Tell daddy about it- and tell him the verse we learned”)
Y- Year after year. This doesn’t happen in a year. It takes years. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t grow weary in doing good. This is what God has called you to do.
Elize Fitzpatrick asks “Are you using life-giving words or life-taking words with your children?” We want impart spiritual life to our kids in our everyday words.