I’m always interested in learning different ways of handling similar challenges.
The other day, we were at the store, and one child had been struggling with whining. At every turn, she was unhappy about something. She didn’t want to let her brother have a turn in the car portion of the cart, she wanted to hold (and open) her barrettes, she kept squishing her sister until she cried. Lee told her to stop, or they would leave the store. A few minutes later, the whining began again, and so Lee took his little girl away. A few minutes later, he returned with a happy child. When we got home, I asked him what he had done.
He reported that he had taken her to an outside bench, and told her that when she stopped whining and crying, she could go back inside the store. That’s it. She was not allowed to disobey (she suffered the consequences when she disobeyed), she then submitted to authority. These are not optional biblical principles for parents to teach and enforce.
Another mother related a struggle with whining where she carefully taught her son what whining was, carefully taught him that whining was unacceptable, explained the consequences, and then spanked him when he did not obey.
Curious because both actions by the parents resulted the same. In both situations, the parents followed biblical principles applied to a specific situation and saw the peaceable fruit of righteousness. The second mother very well may have tried separation without success. And the first mother (me) may indeed find in the future that separation is ineffective, and may need to choose a different corrective measure.
One of the principles that guides my choices of correction is the knowledge that discipline shouldn’t start out harsh. Remember Paul? He urged the Corinthians to correct their own behavior when he says
What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness? (I Corinthians 12:21)
Paul did not immediately come straighten out the Corinthian believers with a figurative rod. He challenges them to correct themselves throughout this letter we find in our Bible. This is one reason we ask our children “Are you going to obey?” We want to give them an opportunity to realize they are going the wrong way and fix the problem on their own, just like Paul.
And yet, it is clear from Scripture that we do sometimes receive painful chastening of the Lord. This is worth thinking about some more.
Vivian Butts says
On the subject to alternatives to spanking, my sweet Mother went to be with the Lord 4 years ago this coming May and she was a stickler about consistant discipline. My youngest child was going through her toddler years and Mom warned me I was spoiling her. Boy, do I wish I listened! Now she is a head strong 8 year old and it is harded than ever to get the results I should’ve diligently tried to get those years ago like Mom warned. She was a wise woman and her words of truth ring in my ears as I try to take what years I have left to do things right and diligently train my children. I think it would’ve been so much easier to drive home that certain behavior was just unacceptable when she was small, but there is still time, it is never too late, right? I also have a son who is almost 17 and I still have a responsibility to train him in the way he should go. Most definately OTHER alternatives to spanking are used when dealing with him! So if you still have babies and toddlers please get busy, it is much easier at this age to train them! Take it from someone who wishes they heeded this advice, Viv Butts
I enjoyed this post, Michelle. I was just recently dialoguing online about this very issue with a friend of a young toddler. Interesting and very pertinent to what we moms deal with day in and day out…
Vivian, thanks for the caution here. It is a sobering to realize our responsibility to discipline our children while they are young.
Gina, thanks for your comments, too. I’ll be interested to hear how the discussion turned out. 🙂
I’m still thinking on this and will comment further next week.