3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Discipline Your Child


Disciplining children is a very touchy (pun not intended) subject. However, it’s hard to imagine a Dad blog that doesn’t deal with some of the challenges this issue raises. And, there’s a very good chance that we, the authors of DadPad, don’t agree on all aspects of the “how to’s” of disciplining our children. So, for some of my additional thoughts about this topic, read the post-blog thoughts after the SOUND OFF question below.

My wife and I recently attended a FamilyLife Weekend To Remember. We serve as missionaries on staff with FamilyLife so this marriage conference has helped and continues to help us in our marriage. If you’ve never gone, you really need to consider going…and at least every other year.  OK, enough of the plug.  Anyway, at the conference, the men and women separate on Sunday mornings to hear role specific teaching.  Greg Speck, one of the weekend’s speakers, spoke to the men about being a father.  In the area of disciplining children he shared this thought provoking statement; The difference between abuse and discipline is the difference between intellect and emotion—using intellect leads to discipline—emotion leads to abuse. It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it?  He then went on to share how his father dealt with him using this concept.

I’d try to retell the story but my notes are sketchy and if Greg reads this I don’t want to have him re-retell it 🙂. I spanking-child-abuse1do remember that his father walked away for a period of time leaving Greg in his room, much to the confusion of Greg. His dad was taking time to think about the situation and waited before he enacted discipline until he had asked and answered these three questions:

  1. What did Greg do wrong?
  2. What does Greg need to do next time?
  3. What’s the best way to teach Greg how to properly respond?

These are three excellent questions that I/we should consider asking when it comes to disciplining our children. By taking time to get away from the heat of the situation the risk of discipline turning into abuse is significantly reduced. It also creates an opportunity to gather any additional facts needed and for proper thinking to take place. Finally, and most importantly, this approach focuses on the opportunity to teach through the issue. Ultimately, isn’t that what we are all about as dads? It’s not about the discipline. It’s about teaching our children and preparing them for life.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov 22:6

So, next time an opportunity arises for you and I to “train up” (discipline) our children, we can just insert our child’s name into those questions above as we ask ourselves,

  • What did they do wrong? Focus on the situation, try to understand it from your child’s perspective and talk to them about why they did what they did, seeing if they understand what they did and why it was wrong.
  • What do they need to do differently next time? and,
  • What’s the best way to teach them how to properly respond (and sometimes a non-injurious spanking might be the right answer).

SOUND OFF: What has worked for you in providing a safe but effective environment for properly disciplining your child?  and/or What did your dad do (positively) that helped shape how you discipline your children?

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Some personal additional thoughts around this area of discipline in a society that appears very confused about this topic:

We live in a unique time. A friend of mine called and shared that something had happened to their child where they had to bring him in to have an injury treated. Due to social service requirements and (I’m sure) health legislation, they were asked a series of questions that were meant to determine if these injuries were accidental or abusively received. I don’t have any problem with attempting to uncover abusive situations. Ask away. However, there seems to be a prevailing sense of “guilty until proven innocent” in many of these instances. My friends needed to justify themselves to authorities and were at risk of losing their child. Ultimately, it was determined that it was simply an accident.

Please understand me-I believe that we should do everything in our power to “find out” abuse and criminal activity where it exists. But it is my belief that our societal pendulum has swung so far to the side of abuse assumption that parents have lost (and are afraid in some cases to act upon) the “art of disciplining” children. I’m not talking beating, hitting unnecessarily, taking physical, emotional or mental advantage of a child. I’m specifically addressing the issue of physical discipline when needed to shape a child. Sometimes it may include an appropriate spanking in the right area of the body with an object, not the hand or other part of your body. And, if I can make this broad leap, it has led to a large population of disrespectful children who are turning into disrespectful adults. They are disrespectful in the classroom, in public and toward authority of nearly any kind. It’s a social dilemma that needs to be addressed, in my opinion. I won’t try to suggest that there is an easy solution. However, we can each do our part.  It is in the face of this social dilemma that we still need to ask this very important question; As dads, how should we discipline our children?


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2 Responses to “3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Discipline Your Child”

  1. pbadstibner Says:

    your right tough tough topic I sure havent discovered the answer first on e my wife and I seem to have done nothing right

    Thesecond one Michaela Kathryn we keep wondering what we did to derve this one

    As a friend says flip of the coin

    Displine how du you teach a child who will not listen to reason

    yet the other one teaches you

    The book of proverbs says seek council but usually council in the art of parenting is lessons learned

    Grt post grt thought thankx

  2. Jeff Abramovitz Says:

    Valid thoughts, PB! THere isn’t any formula you can slap on each child when it comes to discipline but the Bible is the guide to doing all things with love and care, just like the Father loves us yet disciplines us. The discipline is training, not punishment. When you apply God’s principles, even if they aren’t received well, they were delivered with power! Good job, dad!!

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