What, Why and How
by Joey and Carla Link
Your child misbehaves. You don’t know what you should do. Parents should not discipline their children unless they are sure their child not only knows what he did that was wrong, but why it was wrong. This means you need to take time to train your children.
Training has 3 steps. They are:
- Training is teaching – “What” is information. Your 4 year old son hits his sister. You tell him he can’t hit his sister because it is not kind. Does he understand what being kind is? I look definitions of words up to explain them to kids. The dictionary says “kind” means to be loving, affectionate. “Why do I have to be kind to her?” wails your son. “Why” comes from the Bible. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind and tenderhearted towards others. “Why” we are kind is because God said it is important we act this way.
- Training is showing – After you share the “what” and the “why” with your child, you need to show him “how” to put this information into action. “What could you do right now to show your sister you love her? “How” he shows her he loves her is to apologize for hitting her. When apologizing, he should tell his sister hitting her was wrong, why it was wrong and how he wants to make it right with her. To do this, he needs to share the toy she wants to play with.
- Training gives consequences – Once your child understands what he did that was wrong and why it was wrong, he needs to be disciplined the next time he hits someone. Discipline guides and corrects. It motivates your child to do the right thing the next time he is tempted to hit in anger. When training your child in a new behavior, it works best for you and your spouse to decide ahead of time what the consequence will be when he needs it.
Plan training opportunities based on what each of your children is lacking in. Galatians 5:22-23 shares the fruits of the Spirit, meaning what our lives should show once we have asked Jesus to live inside us. Is your child loving? Is he kind, patient, gentle? Is he characterized by self-control? If not, pick one and put a plan together to train him.