Why I Decided To No Longer Punish My Kids

I don’t punish my kids anymore; that might sound crazy or irresponsible but I just don’t do it anymore.  Well at least I try. 

The other day my kiddos were face-timing with their grandparents and – I can’t even tell you what happened – but our 3 year old, Charlie, had a meltdown.  My mother, being the caring grandma that she is, said:

“What’s wrong with my baby?  Who hurt you sweetie?  Don’t cry that makes Nina sad.”  …you know all those things she never said to me when I was growing up! But, that’s a post for another day…

My 6 year old son, Samuel, chimed in and said Charlie just got “disciplined.”  

For some reason that struck me later that night.  I am so glad that my son recognizes that we discipline him and not punish him. 

As a new parent I had no idea where to start or how to correct my children.  So yes, I punished them, because I thought that is what I was supposed to do and sometimes I did it out of frustration or anger.  Now I choose to discipline rather than punish and here are four reasons why:

1. Punishment is harsh; Discipline is gracious.

When I punish my children, it is usually out of anger and wanting them to pay a price for something they did wrong.  It comes across with harshness and anger.  I have done this before and it usually ends with a sinking feeling in my stomach and my child looking broken, hurt and discouraged.  I do not ever want to attack my children while correcting them.  I want to teach them and lift them up.  Our own Heavenly Father is a Loving Corrector and after discipline that comes from Him I feel convicted but also uplifted.  There is no shame associated with true discipline.  There is a feeling of grace, redemption and hope after the interaction is over.

2. Punishment causes long-term hurts; Discipline causes growth.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11 NIV)

No matter what, no one likes discipline.  But if it is administered properly, it can grow our children.  If administered improperly, it can cause bitterness and hurt and can push our children away.  Test yourself…after you administer discipline does your child seem broken or distant?  Does it affect their self-esteem?  Do they seem afraid of making mistakes?  Your child may be a little down after discipline – but should bounce back quickly and begin to recognize inappropriate behaviors.  They should be willing to apologize and talk about ways to change their behavior.  

3. Punishment attacks the child; Discipline addresses a behavior.  

When discplining your child address the behavior and be specific.  Do not attack the child’s personality, habits or shortcomings.  For example, do not say “you are such a slob look at your room I told you to clean it up.”  Instead say, “I noticed that your room hasn’t been cleaned and we agreed that it is your responsibility to clean your room once a week.”  Also be specific.  Especially with younger children. And, not to be stereotypical, but I have found that boys tend to respond better to very concise and direct communication.  “Put the dirty clothes in the basket.”  “Put all the toys in the totes, not under the bed.”  “Make your bed.”  etc.

4. Punishment instills fear; Discipline instills love.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18 NIV)

The Bible clearly tells us that fear is associated with punishment and I don’t ever want to instill fear in my children.  There is plenty in the world to be afraid of and children seem to find it pretty easilly on their own.  So when It comes to discipline love draws our children closer, while fear pushes them away.  

Today as you interact with your children, if they are anything like mine, you will have the opportunity to punish or discpline.  Which one will you choose?  Punishment that is harsh, instills fear and pushes your child away or discpline which is gracious, loving and causes growth?  We have the opportunity to mold little hearts for the Kingdom today!

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  1. Christy Daugherty says:

    We also don’t have punishments, we have concequences. I want him to get used to the fact that regardless of our age, we have concequences to our choices and actions. Concequences can be positive (his concequence for getting all A’s on his report card was a trip to Pink Walrus), or they can be negative (his concequence for losing points at school is less or no videogame time).

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