hurting a child

How to Discipline Not Damage Your Children

I have to make a confession.  I am a driven, highly motivated, overachiever with a Type-A personality.  And one of my biggest concerns when I became a parent was when it came to disciplining my children; could I do it without damaging them?

There is a famous proverb that says, “He who spares the rod hates his son.”  Yet, another verse from the good book states, “Do not provoke your children to anger, lest they become discouraged.” 

So how do we as fathers, walk that fine line of disciplining without hurting a child; pushing them without pushing them away; getting the best out of them without breaking their spirit?

Here are three ways I’ve learned to discipline over my 20 years as a father of two.

1. Build them up without breaking them down.

If you love your children, having to discipline them is inevitable; but with every opportunity to discipline them also comes an opportunity to encourage them.

Instead of criticizing your son or daughter’s bad behavior, and what they did or didn’t do, don’t miss the opportunity to remind them of who they are.  Your children are NOT their behavior.  Their behavior is a choice that should have nothing to do with their self-worth.  Constantly remind your children that they’re better than their bad choices and that you’re proud of them and you love them because of who they are, not because of how they perform.

2. Don’t forget to disciple them while you’re disciplining them.

I know the word disciple may sound religious, but it’s not.  Disciple (the verb form) is just the root word of “discipline,” which means to “teach, train, or instruct.”  Discipline isn’t about punishing our children, but rather about preparing our children for the consequences of their choices and actions.  Use every discipline moment as an opportunity to teach your child right and wrong by asking them some simple questions:

“Why do you think I had to punish you for doing that?”

“What did you learn from this experience?”

“What will you do differently the next time?”

3. Speak blessings into their lives, not curses.

You’re probably saying to yourself, “Who would dare speak a curse over their children?”  Well, we do it unintentionally when we’re disciplining our children when we say things like, “You’re going to end up just like your older brother.”  “You can’t do anything right.”  “You’re such an idiot.”  Statements like these may seem harmless at the time, but they’re seeds that could actually take root without you consciously knowing it.  So be careful in the words you speak.

Instead, try life-affirming statements like:

“I know you’re better than this (behavior).” 

“This is isn’t the kind of person I know you want to grow up to become, do you?”

“I know you made a mistake, but I also know you’re going to learn from it and make us proud.”

Our desire for what’s best for our children should never cost us our relationship with them. [Tweet This]

Sound Off

What ways do you discipline your children?

Dr. Joe Martin

Dr. Joe Martin is a certified Man Builder, creator and founder of RealMenConnect.com, and an award-winning educator. He’s also a husband and father of a blended family of two.

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Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Do you know why I discipline you?”

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