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I’m Ditching Discipline {It’s Not What You Think}

on July 22 | in Motherhood | by | with 52 Comments

There’s not a pretty way to tell a story that begins with WHOMP

But when your kid pushes another kid down for the first time, it’s the best place to start. Yeah, earlier this month Katie did this very thing to a perfectly sweet, adorable kid . . . and then refused to apologize.

So I reach into my parenting toolbox to see if I have anything to “fix” this situation. You know how we mamas like to pack for a blizzard when we’re headed to the beach **just in case.** Some kind of social duct tape will do the trick (rummages) . . .  surely there’s something useful in here (discards stray gum wrapper) . . . . ah! Wait, THIS is what I brought with me?

As I looked into my toolbox, I found I didn’t have much to work with. There was:

  • Shaming – Hadn’t worked out all that well for my parents, so no.
  • Eye for Eye – “”How do YOU like it when someone pushes you down, missy?” No again.
  • Breastfeeding/Babywearing – Hey that’s Micah’s stuff. How’d that get in here?
  • Love and Logic – Not a perfect fit, but I’m at a loss

After that quick mental inventory, I opted for Love and Logic, which tries to instill accountability by allowing kids to experience the consequences of their actions. So I picked up our things and said “If we can’t play with our friends with kindness, then they aren’t going to want to play with us at all. It’s time to go home.”

I’m kind of okay with how I handled the situation, but something more was needed. Obviously, it was something  I didn’t have.

The Thing Is . . .

Love and Logic is great for things like teaching kids to that if they ditch dinner they’re going to be hungry by morning. But if we constantly use behavior modification techniques that simply keep our kids from hitting, or annoying us, or making us look bad, then how does that teach them to love?

I am Katie’s guide and teacher, not her drill sergeant or pageant mom. She is not here to make my life easier or more prestigious. She is here because God called her to a purpose, and I am gifted with the responsibility to equip her for it.

The problem is,  that every time I think about “discipline,” the parenting task becomes about ME – whether my child is behaving in a way I LIKE, or is making ME look good, or any number other lame motivations. I don’t think this is what discipline is supposed to mean. I think it’s changed from something constructive to a punishment model, and somehow we just kept using the word without noticing (like how “face book” used to mean a hardcopy school directory and now it means, well, Facebook).

It’s tempting to try to rescue this old word and restore it to it’s former glory. After a lot of trying, though, I realized that’s about as easy as stopping salivary glands from going nuts anytime someone mentions biting into a juicy lemon.

So I decided to perform a little experiment . . . a linguistic lobotomy of sorts. What would happen if I cut discipline from my vocabulary and found a new word? A word that, in the way we understand it, is actually a more accurate picture of what discipline is meant to be.  Like discipleship, maybe.

I Have Standards, Really!

Ditching discipline is not about letting my kids run wild. It’s an acknowledgment that when someone says “don’t think about lime green sherbert,” that’s exactly what I do! In the same way, my current definition of discipline automatically draws out the negative. But when discipleship is at the front of my mind, opportunities to shape character go way beyond trying to curb unwanted traits. It’s easier to see and build on her strengths while celebrating small victories over her weaknesses.

More Instructing, Less Correcting!

One of my fave ways to do this was inspired by Clay Clarkson’s book Our 24 Family Ways. The book is a little too advanced for Katie, so we created our own sayings like “It’s not our family way to grab things out of other’s hands.” Katie is thriving on the sense of belonging that comes with sharing in her parents ways (instead of having them dictated to her). I love that it helps me remember to lead by example AND it reminds me how difficult it can be to keep our own standards sometimes. Instant formula for grace. :)

Want to try the experiment yourself? Here goes: Think of your child . . . really picture them in your mind. Picture them doing something that really irks you. Now think of discipline. Negative vibes right away, right? Now think of them again and replace discipline with discipleship. Did anything change?

Maybe it did for you, maybe not. It could just be a quirky thing that works for our family. Either way, I’m spending WAY less time worrying over techniques and having a lot more fun! Watching this girl grow is like watching an orchid unfold and reach for the light. Love her!

Even when she’s a little scoundrel. Because sometimes, we all are. :)

What works in your house???

 

 

 

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52 Responses to I’m Ditching Discipline {It’s Not What You Think}

  1. Rachel says:

    The core values I try to focus on with my kids are to care, share, help, and trust. These are all learned within the context of interaction with other people. So while it would be so much easier for me to threaten to separate the kiddos when one is hitting or snatching toys, I try to keep everyone together so we can “practice” sharing or caring.

    • Heather says:

      I agree, Rachel! Now that I’m intentionally thinking along the lines of discipleship its much more obvious how to make this work. For example, Katie hit Micah this morning because she was trying to do a “big girl” thing and he was interfering. If she hadn’t hit him I would have made an effort to give her the space she wanted, but as things were I asked her to get a toy that he would like and play with him for a few minutes before doing her “big girl” thing. I explained that even though Micah is really young he can feel sad when people hit, so she needed to show him that she loves him before going to the next thing. It wasn’t perfect, but I think it was a step in the right direction.

  2. Christin says:

    It’s recently occurred to me that I don’t want to spank my (future) children. I want the physical contact they receive from me to be only positive. But…since both my husband and I were spanked growing up, we’re sort of at a loss for other forms of discipline. (I was raised to believe that “time-out” is a laughable alternative, but I’d love to hear if it’s working for anyone.) I really like the idea of discipleship instead of discipline and giving children a sense of belonging through phrases like “our family doesn’t…” or “our family believes that…” Good stuff!

  3. Betsy says:

    My thoughts on the subject is to know the difference between discipline/discipleship and punishment. I have come to the conclusion (my kids are in their 30s and now I practice on grandkids) that disciple is teaching and punishment is what happens when they know better but intentionally make the wrong choice. Both should be done out of love. So often the punishment is done with anger. I applaud Heather in giving this so much thought and sharing with the world! I confront my 4 year old grandaughter with – “what is or is that the happy choice?” which works wonderfully well!

    • Heather says:

      Thank you, Dr. Betsy! You’ve brought up some excellent points which deserve their own post. In the meantime here’s the nutshell version: I’m philosophically turning away from the concept of punishment for one main reason: punishment can alter behavior but does nothing for the heart. We’ve all heard the story of the little boy standing on a chair in the kitchen. His mom asks him to sit down several times. He continues to stand defiantly until she walks over and plops his bottom on the chair. He looks at her and through gritted teeth says “I’m sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside.”

      I think the punishment paradigm tempts us to believe we’re successful as parents, when really there is a whole lot of stuff bubbling undetected in the heart. For that reason, I really love the principles set forth in Grace Based Parenting. It’s not a permissive parenting style, and personally I’m not at all against allowing a child to experience the difficult consequences of their own actions. It’s just a different paradigm. I hope it doesn’t sound like I am being critical of former generations. On the contrary, I am very grateful for the ways in which they laid down their personal desires for our good, and I am trying my best to build on that for future generations.

      • Cait says:

        You mention the story about the kid on the chair, for me that sort of situation gets tricky. If a kid pushes another kid, I think it’s easy to know what to do because you can talk about values and how the other party feels. But when the kid is just doing something you don’t want them to do, like standing on the chair, or climbing on a coat rack (a mom was trying to get her son to stop doing that at the doctors office today), then what do you do? Diversion? or say stop and explain why? You can’t really say “in our family we don’t stand on chairs”. I stand on chairs to kill spiders on the ceiling all the time! Would love to hear your thoughts

        • Heather says:

          I’m not really sure, Cait. Each child is unique as is each situation. Personally, I find myself asking my daughter to stop doing things all the time only to realize that there is no REAL reason she can’t do it. For some reason my automatic default is “no” and I constantly have to challenge myself about whether I’m being reasonable or stifling. If she is bouncing off the walls it is often because I have gotten too busy to provide her with rich experiences and she’s just . . . bored (it happens a lot, I’m sad to say).I am nowhere near having this “all figured out” – just kind of thinking out loud here.

      • Jennifer says:

        I fully agree with the wording difference and focus being on discipleship vs. punishment. In our home, we refer to it as “training”. We are training our children to be successful lovers of God by obedience and kindness. Many other things of course but especially the early years are all about training. The one thing I don’t know how it’s reconciled in either of the references you posted above is what the Bible says about punishment. I mean, the scriptures are very very clear about “wickedness is bound up in the heart of a child but the rod drives it far from him” and many other verses. I am sincerely curious as to how parents who write off paddling or other forms of discipline write off God’s wisdom in favor of humanistic approaches. Not to say you do that, but many people who go the route of grace based training pretty much throw out what the Word says about training kids. I try my best to read the Word, reading it in light of relationship with my kiddo’s. Meaning, I don’t paddle for everything or for honestly barely anything… but it’s still a resource for direct disobedience and not out of anger either. Just out of deep care for my children. Mostly because the Word says some clear things about it. Please help me understand :) P.S. I have a 12 year old and an 18 month old and am due any day with #3. I definitely have tried many different things over the years but realize now that God’s wisdom is best. P.S.S. I think the way you dealt with your daughter hitting at the park was a good way to handle it.

  4. Jennifer says:

    I like this idea of discipleship over discipline. My parents were screamers…and I’ve fallen into the trap too many times. But I KNOW it does no good and does nothing to advance the character of my children. I’ve been trying to slooooow down in the moment and think things through before reacting and try to figure out how to help my kids move past whatever the issue is. I think this will help. Thanks!

    • Heather says:

      I struggle with falling into the patterns of my parents too, Jennifer! Ironically, it was in learning to extend grace to myself (it makes me a better mother!) that I came to value it’s importance in my children’s lives. Thanks for your honesty. :)

      • Liliy says:

        Even more ironically, I was raise using these exact methods- discipleship over discipline, and just reading this post irks me! My main behavior problem as a child was acting out to get a reaction from my parents because no matter what I did, I was met with “I’m sorry you feel that way, is there anything we can do to help?”. My parents pride themselves on having NEVER raised their voice at me. This means that I was the screamer. I would scream until I lost my voice, but all they would ever do was reply calmly and ask me what Jesus would do. I honestly didn’t think that Jesus had any problem with my yelling! It’s interesting to see a very different side to this :)

  5. Mary says:

    I don’t believe that spanking is the answer for everything, but I do believe that it has its place. My parents spanked me on occasion when what I had done warranted it, and I don’t love them any less. I thank them for clearly teaching me right and wrong so I could grow up to be the adult that I am. Spanking may not be what some people’s children need, but I think the important thing is seeing what works for your individual child and then being resolve about it so your child learns clearly what is right and wrong. That’s the way I see it at least.

    • Brynna says:

      I agree with you- on both points (spanking and individual discipline). We don’t discipline any one way…our children are all SO different, and they respond SO differently to things (my tender hearted 5 year old will crumble at the thought of getting in trouble, while my 3 year old will stare me down and challenge me to bring it on, and my 1.5 year old is the type that never gets INTO trouble so the rare times he does, he’s heartbroken). I see a lot of my friends who are so set on following a certain style of discipline (some including spanking, others adamantly against it) and it’s very obvious that THAT is their problem! They don’t adjust to their child and what they need to do to reach their hearts and stop the problem there.

      • Heather says:

        Hi Brynna! Have you ever read “Nurture by Nature” by Tieger? I’m trying to decide if their “typing” approach can really be applied to kids or if it just bunk. If you have any thoughts please let me know!

    • Heather says:

      Mary – My mom spanked me, too, and she is one of my best friends. From the time I was 11 on I was raised in a Christian culture that believe spanking was something God required of them. I know many parents that believe this to be true and spank because they LOVE their children. However, after researching the matter on my own I have come to the conclusion there is no biblical basis for spanking. “Rods” as they are described in biblical contexts were not used to hit animals/people, and the “spare the rod spoil the child” instruction often quoted in Christian circles is not even in the Bible! So while yes, I agree that we need to see what works with our children on an individual basis, I have to say that I do not support spanking. I don’t judge the heart or motives of people that spank, but I believe there are better ways to instructs. More on the lack of biblical support for spanking can be found at http://aolff.org/spare-the-rod

      • feltsdia says:

        May I offer some commentary regarding this topic? Yes, I am a mother of two boys, ages 10 and 7. I have studied Hebrew as I enjoy finding Jesus in the shadows of the Old Testament. This linguistic study has led me to many revelations regarding current doctrines and theologies being taught in Christian circles today.

        In this study, I have researched the word “shebet” which is translated rod in English. Yes, in fact, this noun describes an off-shoot or branch, such as of a tree, but also describes an ancestral branch in geneology. In Biblical times the shebet was used to discipline animals, but it is also used to describe the treatment of a foolish slave, the punishment of children, and God’s reproof towards His own children, the Israelites.

        Probably the most quoted Scripture using shebet is Psalm 23:4 AMP: “…I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.” When used in this context, shebet is not negative in any sense, but is a symbol of protection and guidance.

        However, the Scripture you previously mentioned (Proverbs 13:24 AMP) says, ” He who spares his rod [of discipline] hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines diligently and punishes him early.” I am a person who believes the Bible backs itself up; in other words, I cannot take one Scripture out of context and make it stand. I need to see it in principle and in translation again.

        Why discipline? To shepherd your child’s heart. Yes, I have been given an amazing responsibility to “train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his indiviual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 AMP) Discipline is not about what made me angry, how something made me look…it’s about keeping their heart purely focused on the Lord and His perfect will.

        Proverbs 22:15 AMP says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” As a Christian parent, I want my children to fulfill His perfect will for them. After all, His will is their love letter from God Himself. If foolishness is present, and the Bible says it is, it is part of my parental duty to release its bondage of my child’s heart. Why? As a means of love, protection, and guidance, just as the Word says. It goes on.

        Proverbs 23:13-14 AMP says, “Withhold not discipline from the child; for if you strike and punish him with the [reedlike] rod, he will not die. You shall whip him with the rod and deliver his life from Sheol (Hades, the place of the dead).” If discipline is done out of love, “hesed” in Hebrew which translates into “agape” in the Greek, there will never be abuse present.

        The Hebrew definition of the word wicked means twisted, as in wicker furniture. Modern day psychology has taken the Word of God and twisted its true meaning. There is nothing Satan would like to do more than cause the very means of delivering foolishness from the hearts of our children to be despised in the world, which ultimately leads to our Christian circles. When disciplining in LOVE rather than in anger, the Word promises a heart free of foolishness. This is what every parent desires for their child.

        I have only two more comments.

        John 19:3 AMP says, “…And they struck Him with the palms of their hands.” As I was reading this one day, the Holy Spirit spoke very strongly to me. I knew immediately that our hands are meant to love, to bless. Think of the number of times in reading the Old Testament that the blessing of the child is done while hands are being laid upon him. Think of Joseph receiving the anointing of Moses as hands were being laid on him. There are too many times for me to list here. The Bible is specific. We are not to punish with our hands in any way. He gave us an instrument to use instead.

        Lastly, I have taught my children these Scriptures, not during discipline, but during a time of studying the Word. My children come to me and say, “I need a spanking.” Why? They understand the Word is true, 100%. They do not want to have foolishness be in their hearts; they do not want Satan to prevail, but wish for their lives to be a testament to God’s glory. They are 10 and 7. I certainly did not do this as a child, although I was spanked as well. Why? I was often spanked in anger and I was not taught the corresponding Word. My parents did the best they could, but I, just like you, endeavor to do better.

  6. shannon says:

    thanks. i like that way of thinking. :) one question though about the website. it now has a thing on it to “like” it on facebook/twitter or whatever, but i can’t remove it and it covers half the page and scrolls down with me so i can’t get around it. :) any ideas? :)

    • Daniel says:

      What browser are you using, Shannon? Mobile phone browser? Internet Explorer? I’ve tested the functionality on updated versions of Firefox, IE, Chrome, and Safari. I’m not sure how it looks on mobile browsers, though.

      If you are using a desktop, perhaps your browser needs to be updated to a more recent version?

      • Russell Hemati says:

        If you’re on mobile, I’d suggest a good RSS feed reader instead of a browser. The Mommypotamus articles have full text and images (just not comments) available through RSS. Much more convenient than swishing around a little screen trying to see the native web version. My favorite reader is Pulse – it allows you to repost a link to the original article to Facebook, Twitter, Plus, and even send a link through SMS text or email.

        If you’re on a desktop then it sounds like a javascript issue. Quickest way to fix is to update your browser.

  7. Jodi Strassheim via FB says:

    Love this! I do believe in discipline, and that it is a big part of discipling our children. More instruction, less correction is a great little quip to keep in my mind. When you have the ultimate goal in mind, that we are shaping our children into the children God has planned them to be, it’s easier to keep in mind a more loving/instructional type of discipline with eternal ramifications! Thanks for this post.

  8. @Jodi – Glad you liked it! For the record, what I think I’m living is a very relational type of discipline. It’s just when I use that word in my head my perspective gets all wonky, so it made sense to ditch it. Have a great weekend!

  9. I’ve found that behavior is a message. I would help her to voice her needs, “I want to play alone right now.”, “Don’t take my things, please.”, “I don’t want to share that. It is special.”, “I need some space.”, “I need your attention Mom.”, “I need a break from playing.”, “I’m hungry.”, etc.

    The adage H.A.L.T. has helped me to recognize when words are lost that we are not feeling our best: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

    Our son is an introvert and I’m an extrovert. It took me a long time to recognize that his limit for socializing was much shorter than mine! Also, if I were busy chatting with the moms, I often missed his cues: body language and eye contact which might have told me ‘I’ve had enough and I’m ready to go, Mom!’. I’ve given him words to use instead. So, now, we communicate and connect throughout playdates about how he is doing in regard to H.A.L.T. And we leave when he has reached a saturated limit, rather than waiting for the behavior to incite our leaving on a sad note.

    Bringing snacks, visiting with familiar families in familiar environments, skipping playdates if not rested, socializing early in the day, one-on-one facilitation of the interactions between non-verbal playmates, validating each child’s needs, helping to engage the children separately when they’ve had enough sharing, etc have helped us to have fun and friendly play for all involved.

    I love the book “Connection Parenting” by Pam Leo. http://www.amazon.com/Connection-Parenting-Through-Instead-Coercion/dp/1932279172

    Pat

  10. Kate says:

    I’m not a parent yet but I hope one day to be able to apply the parenting philosophies from Alfie Kohn, which I think resonate with what you mean by decipleship. He has a book called Unconditional Parenting:
    http://www.alfiekohn.org/up/index.html

    Of course, always easier said than done :)

    -Kate

    • Heather says:

      Thanks for the recommendation, Kate. I’ve heard of him but haven’t read the book. Will look into it! And you’re right, much easier said than done!

  11. Those are the MOST adorable photos!!!

    We are still having “issues” but we got “How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk” on audiobook. We’re listening now and it’s AWESOME! It basically says that you need to allow children to express their feelings (in appropriate ways) and you then listen and reflect back to them. So far it’s working like magic!

  12. Justine says:

    I love this post, and even more your comment “punishment can alter behavior but does nothing for the heart.” really resonates. I’ll be filing this one away for my children (who are just a twinkle in my eye right now)

    Ps, I’m also having an issue with that social media button sitting in the left of centre in the middle of my screen! ( I have the latest update of Firefox) so hopefully my comment make sense, it’s hard to see what I’m typing!

    • Heather says:

      Ahhh! I love the twinkle in the eye stage. It involves so much more sleep! Thanks for letting me know about the buttons . . . we’re looking into it.

    • Daniel says:

      Justine,

      Do you use a square monitor or have a squarish laptop screen? So far, the only people I know who see the share buttons overlap are those with square screens.

  13. jada says:

    Great post! I can’t wait to read some of the books you recommended. I have a very strong willed 3 year old that has attitude of a 16 year old lol and I feel so defeated some days. She will challenge me like on one else and I find myself yelling at her often. I have been torn between spanking or not to spank. We are Christian and like you said many Christians believe the bible says to spank but when I have spanked it just doesn’t feel right.

    I love the H.A.L.T idea too!

  14. Valerie says:

    Heather,
    I’ve posted a lot about discipline and natural learning on my blog as that is where we are right now with a 5, 3, and 1 year old. I remember when I had baby #2 my oldest was 2 years old and the whole redirecting thing was starting to not work. So I ventured into looking for discipline models. As a child I was spanked, degraded, shamed, etc. That model has had some damaging consequences which I still deal with. I own “How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk” by Faber/Mazlish. Becky Bailey is a fantastic positive discipline guru too with her book Easy To Love, Difficult to Discipline. Their methods fall in line with holistic parenting approaches, natural learning, etc. At that point I realized that these same methods work for any situation, not just kids. It’s about overall communication. Who doesn’t need that?? I taught teenagers in high school and these methods worked wonders in the classroom as well. I created strong bonds with my students. Now my oldest is 5 and “supposed” to start kindergarten in a couple weeks but instead we are homeschooling, rather, unschooling her. I mention unschooling because I found that in order for me to really use the principles in holistic parenting, discipline, etc I could not school my children. Alfie Kohn and other proponents of unschooling like John Holt are fantastic minds of unschooling. It’s all about the whole picture, the whole family, the whole mind, body, and soul of parenting. I’ve learned that I really can’t do one without the other. Natural birthing, the way we eat, think, teach our children, discipline, etc is all a natural progression in the natural learning movement. Check out Faber/Mazlish, Alfie Kohn, and John Holt. Fascinating stuff. Opening my mind to this was incredible.

    • Anna D says:

      Valerie, would you kindly share your blog here, so I can check it out. I am interested in all the issues you mention and I came to the same conclusions that they should all go together and even more.. Love John Hold, have all his books, will have to check out Alfie Kohn, coincidentally just started reading Faber/Mazlish.

      Great post and very useful comments!

  15. Jeanmarie says:

    So inspiring! I’m not even a mom, but I work with developmentally disabled adults and am having to learn about creative ways to guide them. After all, I’m not their mom. And my biggest lesson has been to treat them like adults, and hold them accountable — and teach them how to do what they need to succeed on the job. Thanks for the inspiration.

  16. Kate S. says:

    I agree with your philosophy of “more discipleship, less discipline.” I think that you should always be searching through every minute of every day with your child to disciple your children and help them internalize what they need to have a tender, kind heart. However, I think that children also need to learn that if they do not follow the rules, there will be consequences. I think that a lot of children have not learned this, and therefore do not mind breaking “stupid” rules like dress code, or bringing their cell phone to school, etc, and when they get caught and face punishment they get very upset. It’s “stupid teacher” this, and “stupid school” that. Then, things like shoplifting or underage drinking are “no big deal” and when they get caught for this, the consequences can be very long lasting and again, the child either feels that it’s unfair or it doesn’t matter. They just aren’t used to consequences and they don’t internalize the message of why the discipline happened. I’m not saying that all children/teens behave or think this way, I’m just saying that it’s a trend and a possibility if kids are not consistently taught that there are consequences to bad behavior and that God demands punishment for disobeying His laws. So, I’m not sure that you meant to convey the message that you didn’t want to discipline your daughter for unacceptable behaviour, but that’s kind of what came across and this post is my cautionary response to that, and total agreement with the “more discipleship” message!

    • Heather says:

      Thank you, Kate! Choosing to disciple my children is not really about eradicating discipline. It’s about eating the whole pie instead of just the crust, or center, or whatever. As a part of discipleship it’s as essential as butter is to a flaky pie crust, but trying to use it on it’s own can yield messy, disastrous results.

      So while I’m ditching it as my primary mindset, there will always be a place for correction. Now, what constitutes biblical correction is a whole other can of worms. Let’s save that debate for another day. :)

  17. Kate S. says:

    I agree with your philosophy of “more discipleship, less discipline.” I think that you should always be searching through every minute of every day with your child to disciple your children and help them internalize what they need to have a tender, kind heart. However, I think that children also need to learn that if they do not follow the rules, there will be consequences. I think that a lot of children have not learned this, and therefore do not mind breaking “stupid” rules like dress code, or bringing their cell phone to school, etc, and when they get caught and face punishment they get very upset. It’s “stupid teacher” this, and “stupid school” that. Then, things like shoplifting or underage drinking are “no big deal” and when they get caught for this, the consequences can be very long lasting and again, the child either feels that it’s unfair or it doesn’t matter. They just aren’t used to consequences and they don’t internalize the message of why the discipline happened. I’m not saying that all children/teens behave or think this way, I’m just saying that it’s a trend and a possibility if kids are not consistently taught that there are consequences to bad behavior and that God demands punishment for disobeying His laws. So, I’m not sure that you meant to convey the message that you are no longer going to discipline your daughter for unacceptable behaviour, but that’s kind of what came across and this post is my cautionary response to that, and total agreement with the “more discipleship” message!

  18. Elizabeth says:

    One thing that helped us was the idea of not only apologizing, but ACCEPTING an apology. If my son said, “I’m sorry,” I might check to make sure that he UNDERSTOOD why what he did was wrong, but once I knew that he got it, I would say, “I accept you apology. Thank you. Now, let’s put it behind us and get back to ….” This puts a stop to endless scolds and rants, and makes it easier for kids to fess up and apologize for wrong-doing. It made me THINK THROUGH what it was I wanted to say before I said, OK, I accept your apology. It brought closure to the incident.

  19. Kate C. says:

    Wow, Feltsdia. Great comment! I agree 100%. Thank you for offering your biblical wisdom in the midst of worldly thinking. Very encouraging

  20. Holly says:

    I agree with Felsdia as well there is room for both loving instruction and corrective discipline in a Godly home ….. our problem is vering off to much in one direction or the other! Ok my problem… :)

    • Holly says:

      ooh and for those of us with older children (tweens and teens) that’s when it gets into being more mentoring then instructing I was given the book “Age of Opportunity” by Tripp which was AWESOME as well as Losing Control and Liking it and Mark Gregston’s books

      • Heather says:

        This thread is particularly interesting! For me, placing an emphasis on to discipling my children is not really about eradicating discipline. It’s about eating the whole pie instead of just the crust, or center, or whatever. As a part of discipleship it’s as essential as butter is to a flaky pie crust, but trying to use it on it’s own can yield messy, disastrous results.

        So while I’m ditching it as my primary mindset, there will always be a place for correction. Now, what constitutes biblical correction is a whole other can of worms. Let’s save that debate for another day. :)

  21. Cindy says:

    Love this post and your new thoughts! :) Also love Alfie Kohn! We have yet to use punishment in our household and focus instead on respect, understanding and unconditional love. We love that our children want to do “right” because it feels right, want to treat themselves and each other and friends, etc., as kindly as possible, want to listen to us because we listen to them, etc. We guide our children by example, love and teaching & we are so happy with how they are (and are growing to be) such empathic, loving, caring, patient, helpful, honest, fun, kind, happy, understanding and wonderful people. :)

  22. [...] It’s what we do as parents, right? Grow. Change. Mix things up. And yes, argue with ourselves on occasion. I don’t know about you, but Last Year Me does not see parenting the same way as Current Me, and I’m sure Future Me will think we’re both laughably mistaken. But if for no other reason than to better argue with myself, I’d like to clarify Current Me’s position as stated in I’m Ditching Discipline. [...]

  23. Just got around to reading this post. Very well put. It is a hard thing as a parent to reevaluate and critique your own parenting style- I’ve had to make many changes in the past 10 years as my son has grown. I look back at some days and wonder how we made it through! But he has shown me over the years which things work the best for him. There is so much to learn from our kids!

  24. Des says:

    I think disciplining and knowing when to discipline, when to let something slide, when to be firm, when to be relaxed, when to be strict and when to be lax is the hardest part about parenting.
    We spank in my family, there is no question about that. But what I tell my friends is that discipline and correction can wound instead of build up if your heart as a parent is not right.
    I try to have clear and open dialogue with my kids and I will only discipline open rebellion. They won’t get in trouble for pulling books off the shelf if it is the first time (an instance that happened today). I’ll explain why we don’t do that and tell them not to do that again. Then if they immediately began doing what I just told them not to do, then they get disciplined (thankfully that wasn’t the case today).
    I’m learning each day. For instance, I discipline my daughter completely different than I discipline my middle son. The same tactics don’t work and if I did what I do with my daughter to my son, it wouldn’t get to heart issues.
    Anyways, I think emphasizing discipleship over discipline isn’t a bad idea, but I also think that in some instances there needs to be firm correction and no amount of “talking it through” or “redirection” will do the trick of correcting a bad behavior. Especially if it is a reoccurring one. but that’s just my opinion.

  25. Justyn says:

    I love this post, Heather! To be honest, when I first read it I was a bit uncertain about it, but by the end you had me convinced! (This is also one of your first posts that I saw, so I didn’t know anything about you at the time. Glad I stuck around!! :-) We’ve used “training”, which we define as preventative parenting, and we “discipline”, which is the response when known rules are intentionally broken. Ditching the word “discipline” is helping me to see parenting in a new way. Although, we do still “train/discipline”, if I think in terms of “discipleship”, it really does change my perspective and my attitude. Instead of seeing it as something that needs to be done (which I confess, sometimes I do), I see it as an opportunity to shape my little girl’s soul!

  26. [...] it’s not too bad. Yet another reason to proceed calmly. Is that what I do? No. Do I let this post about focusing on discipleship shape my words? Uh, no. Because honestly, I don’t even [...]

  27. Michelle says:

    Hi Heather, I love your blog and just recently came upon as my real food journey started only a couple months ago :-) I was reading this post and enjoyed it. I thought you might enjoy this series from Carrie Contey http://carriecontey.com/blog/the-radical-evolution-of-familyhood%e2%80%a6-%e2%80%93-part-two/#more-1235 I’m in Austin and here Carrie is known as a parenting expert/guru and I know her fans are more than just Austin since she travels and does classes/workshops all over :-) I’d love to hear an update on how discipleship shift is going!

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