Most of the articles on child training I see seem to fall into two schools of thought. One seeks to control behavior by punishment for offenses. “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” as the saying goes. The other seeks to control behavior by rewards. “If you will do this, then you will get that.”
Neither method is wholly bad (nor good), unless it’s all you employ and only use it as a controlling mechanism. I’m not going to spout a bunch of psycho-talk about self-worth, nor am I one to advocate corporal punishment at the drop of a hat. A child is not a car to be driven at a parent’s whim, but an individual human being with a mind, a spirit, and a soul.
If you have more than two children, you have probably wondered how two people from the same parents (presumably) can be so different. I have five children, and every one is from a different planet. I don’t know how it happens when you’re throwing in the same DNA every time, but I’m telling you from experience it goes whacky.
One responds to praise and a little affection with over-the-top service, while another will only minimally cooperate after experiencing the receiving end of a paddle, a wooden spoon, in our case.
They each have an alter ego, as well. The child who makes her bed with military precision melts at the first sign of trouble. Frustration over simple wrinkles have been known to send her into a tailspin of grief. The other, who lives in her own world of butterflies and daisies, showers affection on all who know her. She lives for hugs and kisses, though they won’t actually entice her to even pull up the sheets of her bed.
We disciple, or train, each child as an individual to make the best use of their strengths (service and encouragement) and to overcome their weaknesses (frustration and laziness). Discipling involves one-on-one work with the child. We identify the good behaviors and character traits and encourage them. Then, we target the bad behaviors and character flaws and devise exercises to overcome them.
Ultimately, we want our children to grow up to be godly, productive leaders in a world that desparately needs truth and strength. Discipling and discipline go hand in hand with raising children. Don’t forego one for the other.