Nothing of worth can be accomplished without discipline.  Discipline is a necessary component of developing a good character.   Being disciplined does not come naturally because we usually want to do that which is the easiest or most fun.  It requires constant vigilance. 

I prefer the word “educating” to “disciplining” to describe what a parent does for a child.  I have found a loose/tight disciplining philosophy to be the most effective.  This means that there are times when we show flexibility, but we remain rigid when it comes to issues of consequence.  For example, a child might ignore a job that was assigned to her and we would give her another chance to complete the task without punishment.  However, if the child lies to us, there would be serious consequences.

This might be more important to me because we chose to have a large family, but I adopted a “swift justice” approach to discipline.  There isn’t time to try to reason with a 3 year old about whether he should wear his shoes when the family is trying to get somewhere on time.  There will be time for philosophical discussions of agency when he gets a little older.

We chose to bring children into this world.  We loved them and wanted them to be able to develop their own unique personalities, but I would not consciously allow my children to be an affliction to others.  For example, if they misbehaved in church, I would put them under my arm and immediately take them out of the meeting, often with my other hand over their mouth (but not their nose), so no would have to listen to them scream.  They were put on a chair outside of the chapel and told that they would sit there until they could “act decent.”

Corporal punishment at one time was one of the essentials of child rearing.  Now, it is considered by many to be a form a child abuse.  Maybe this is the reason for the increasing numbers of youth that are disrespectful and undisciplined.  No one should harm their child, but spanking does help children understand the seriousness of the situation.  Of course, there is no justification for spanking a baby and spanking becomes counter-productive as the child grows older.  My experience is that spanking before age 2 and after age 8 is rarely beneficial.  Sue always used the rule, “Never give more swats on the bottom than the age of the child.”

One of the methods of disciplining that seems to be popular now is counting to three before the parent acts.  The result seems to be that the child does not change his behavior until the parent has finished counting to two.  Nothing more.

Another faulty parenting technique is to give exaggerated ultimatums – “If you do that, you’re not going to live to see ten.”  Funny…but really?  Both the parents and the kids know that the threats are completely meaningless.  This teaches the kids that our words are nothing more than inconsequential blather.  There is a better way.  Either don’t give the kids an ultimatum or give an ultimatum and actually follow through.  (Not the one cited above, though.)

I don’t why I thought that I could create “a little bit of heaven on earth” by yelling, but that is how I tried to accomplish it.  I was more of a drill sergeant than a negotiator.  I don’t know how to organize a large family without yelling.  My wife is much mellower than I am but she would yell at the kids if they ignored her enough times, or at the wrong time.

I know that yelling is not the best way to communicate with children, but I don’t know how to eliminate it.  My best advice would be to try to keep it to a minimum.

Parents must be willing to accept the role of teacher and disciplinarian and not servant.  It is usually easier to do a job oneself than to teach a child what to do and make sure they do it correctly.  However, we are in the business of raising well-disciplined children instead of doing their jobs for them in order to avoid conflict.

Disciplined parents are essential in rearing responsible and disciplined children.  Model the behavior you expect, mean what you say, act instead of react and never give up.  And most importantly, always show them how much you love them.

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