Posted by  | Tuesday, September 22, 2009  at 5:00 AM  
In the past, we have had some lively discussions on the topic of discipline. Most of it has revolved around the issue of spanking. While none of the POH authors use this method exclusively (very few probably do!) we all use it at times. And, while I can't speak for the other authors, I do want to address this form of discipine in our home.

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
- Proverbs 22:6

I want to focus on the word train. It doesn't say discipline, teach, instruct, etc. but train. To train a child really encompasses all of these things and it is much more challenging than just simply disciplining. To train a child means that we are always teaching, always looking for moments to share truth, and, when necessary, disciplining. One aspect of discipline, in our home, is spanking. We spank for willfull disobedience. When my toddler, who knows full well she should not do xyz looks at me and specifically does that very thing, she will get a spanking. Anything else and we look to other creative methods of discipline - at her age, this involves things like putting the current activity away, taking away videos or princess dolls, or working toward earning something when we are trying to start a pattern of consistently doing something that is a behavior change.

When we spank, we talk about what is going to happen first and then we spank with a wooden spoon on the bottom. When we are finished we talk again about why she got a spanking, what our expectations are, how much we love her, and, sometimes we pray together as well.

There has also been discussion on POH about how the authors are all advocates of Shepherding a Child's Heart (which again advocates spanking at times). It has been suggested we read books by Scott Turansky, such as Good and Angry. I ordered this book and am over a 100 pages into it (I had hoped to be finished with it before this week's topic but, alas, life keeps me busy these days :). So far, at least, I don't see contradictions between these two books and don't have a problem with Good and Angry. He advocates some fine methods of dealing with situations. He has not mentioned spankings so far into the book (and, thumbing through the rest, I'm assuming it doesn't come up). My perspective is this: creative discipline and spanking aren't mutually exclusive methods. In fact, you need both. As a former classroom teach (actually, all the POH authors are) we've all used creative discipline techniques in our classrooms and use them at home with our children as well. Yet, the way I discipline a two-year old is drastically different than a twelve-year old. A two-year old needs to learn to obey first; you don't reason with your two-year old. A twelve-year old is old enough to discuss the why's behind things, although, ultimately, you still expect obedience as a parent. Because, ultimately, if our children do not obey us as parents, how will they learn to obey God?! Turansky discusses ways to equip parents and children to deal with situations in godliness before it leads to situations you must discipline for: teaching children how to ask for permission to change something in a godly way for example. These are great things! But, the bottom line is this: when we have moments in our home where our children are willfully disobedient, we will discipline for this, as well as use this as a teaching opportunity to train our children what a better response would be for next time. I will not negotiate, beg, or ask over and over for my toddler to obey me. This is training and, I believe, a wonderful gift of freedom we can give our kids to learn that we as parents are going to be consistent and expect them to obey us right away, all the way, and with a happy heart (what we say in our home).

Finally, it has been said that we (the POH authors) are so close to attachment parenting ideas (many of us using cloth diapers, slings, natural births, etc.) yet when it comes to discipline we are totally the opposite. Maybe. I don't like to categorize myself as anything other than a lover of Jesus who wants to live my live to glorify Jesus and raise my children to passionately follow hard after Him. If this makes me an "APer" or not, so be it. My goal in training my children is simply to let them know that they are miracles, precious gifts entrusted to us for a short time; loved so much by their mommy and daddy that they feel the freedom to be what He has created them to be; and a longing to serve their Creator in reckless abandonment giving glory to Him in all they say and do. Training is hard work but oh it is also the most rewarding task the Lord has ever called me to!


ChezDeshotels said...


wonderful post thanks so much for sharing your heart and am so cahllenged by your passion. Such a fresh cahllenge for me to continue to strive each day to train and dicipline my children so that they can be who Jesus has made them to be

Rachael Davis said...

Well said, Krista!

Stephanie Perdue said...

Another really great book that is similar to Shepherding a Child's Heart yet much more practical is Don't Make Me Count To Three, by Ginger Plowman.

Krista said...

LOVE that book. That, along with Raising Godly Tomatoes, has really helped shaped the way we discipline.

MMS said...

Great post, Krista! I think it's great that you are not "sold" on spanking as the one way to discipline. We don't spank, mainly b/c Noah could care less about a spanking. Our next child might be different, so I think you have to know your kids and find what works when it comes to discipline. Sitting still is his least favorite thing EVER, so time out works for us. I have pinched his leg before for running away from us in public, and that worked well seeing as a timeout in a parking lot wasn't practical.

One thing I want to add in the discussion is that we cannot set our kids up to fail when it comes to behavior. I cringe when I see parents in public yelling at and sometimes hitting children who are obviously tired. The times when we have seen bad behavior from Noah, both in public and at home, are times when we had him out past nap/bedtime, he was sick/getting sick, or he was hungry. I definitely handle those situations differently b/c I feel that I can't fully punish him for something that is partially my fault. That is why I am very, very strict with sleep and meal schedules, and people often don't understand that.

One other thing we have decided as a couple is to avoid power struggles in which both sides of the equation end up frustrated. Two realms in which we have seen power struggles starting to appear have been with food and the potty. We do not make eating an area of discipline. I make one meal; if he doesn't eat it, oh, well! Kids will eat when they're hungry for sure. I also saw a power struggle creeping up with the potty, so we backed off. Now that he is showing more interest, it's been a lot easier for both of us. I think you have to decide if issues are really worth it in the long run. Obviously, disobedience snowballs and needs addressing. Eating and pottying are things that all kids get down eventually.

I also have to say that the POH posts on discipline earlier helped me a ton. I definitely think boundary setting starts EARLY. Behaviors that might be cute at 9 months are not cute at 2 1/2. So, some things have just always been expectations in our house, and some things *should* have always been expectations! Live and learn!

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