It’s tough to be a man and not enjoy watching Liam Neeson’s character on the phone in the movie Taken. As his daughter is being taken captive, he utters one of the most famous lines in recent cinema history: “What I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career.” Neeson’s character responds in such an intense moment with calm determination and clarity of thought. He has complete confidence in his abilities and methods to achieve his desired outcome. While it lacks realism, it certainly is how we’d all like to react in a crisis.
Unruly children can feel like chaos, causing our stress levels to rise and, many times, boil over. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve lost my cool and pulled out some of the few remaining follicles of hair I have left on many occasions. However, I have had the best results when I respond well by exercising the necessary skills for disciplining children. I have found the following to be the 4 most essential components.
1. VisionDisciplining our kids is an opportunity to do some gardening on the soil of their hearts and minds.
It’s important to remember that it’s not disciplining for the sake of disciplining. There has to be an end goal in mind. It is about nurturing and sharpening the development of our kids so they can grow in maturity and wisdom. Disciplining our kids is an opportunity to do some gardening on the soil of their hearts and minds. Create with your kids and their mother a vision of their future person. Ask them what type of person they want to be. It will give them an idea of what they are working toward and will get them to buy in.
2. Clear Communication
There are two areas in which you need clear communication skills. First, you need to set easily understandable boundaries. It should be black and white. They need to know exactly where the line is and what will happen if they cross it. The consequences need to be outlined and well-defined. Second, explain and reiterate the things they need to learn and why it’s important for kids to learn them. Your kids should come away from being disciplined with a bigger picture of the benefits of making better decisions and the dangers of repeating the same mistakes.
This is the most difficult part of discipline. It will take a lot of thought and discussion with their mother. Any punishment or act of discipline should match or come close to matching the level of the infraction. They should feel a certain level of pain (not necessarily physical). The measure used will be at its most effective when both parents are in agreement. Talk it out and plan together as best you can. There should also be a balance of justice with grace and forgiveness. If the beginning of the process involves breaking down, the end should involve restoration and comfort. Your love for your kids should come through clearly.
4. Consistent Follow-Through
Most CEOs who have been fired haven’t been fired because they didn’t have a plan, but because they didn’t execute it. They hired friends and then did not hold them accountable when they failed. When boundaries and consequences are set and when the vision is clear and agreed upon, the only thing left to do is follow through. Hold them to the standards. It takes work, but without it, the vision will slowly fade away.
Sound off: What skills do you think are most essential in disciplining kids?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why do you think Daddy disciplines you?”