Raising disciplined children
Children are a blessing from God. Parents need a lot of wisdom in handling children as they have different personalities, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. The Bible reminds us in Proverbs 22:15 that Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. The question that beckons is how then do you discipline a child.
Talk with a calm tone
Teach children right from wrong using calm words and actions. Words are powerful. They can build or destroy a child. Words can affect a child’s self-esteem later in life hence parents should strive to select their words carefully so as not to ruin their relationship with children in the future.
When training children, parents should look for the good in their children and the bad. Correct them with love when they are wrong so that they can strive to be better. When children do good, reward them. Reward encourages them to behave better. It is human nature to appreciate rewards.
- Be calm
When handling children it is important to be calm, as you may react in anger then regret your actions later. Children at different stages express their feelings in different ways, for some it is through tantrums, shouting, or destroying objects. Try to be calm before reacting to a child’s behavior. Ephesians 6:4 says, Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
- Train your children
When disciplining children, parents should remember that the main aim is to instruct, teach, and guide their children. The best way to discipline your child is to help him/her make better choices by teaching him/her the correct behavior. For example, if a child throws a tantrum because they are thirsty, give them the appropriate language to use e.g. “I am thirsty, I would like something to drink.” This way, you can address the specific issue.
- Set limits
Parents should set clear ground rules and what happens when someone breaks the rules. Teach them that there are consequences for misbehavior. Despite the busy schedules that parents have in our world today, it is important to stick to the set rules so that children can learn from them. Children imitate more what they see. As a parent, strive to be a good example to your children through your actions.
- Television and Social Media
We live in times when children have easy access to lots of TV stations and internet sites. There is a lot of media that may not be appropriate for a child depending on age and maturity. The big question is how do you control media usage? Well, parents can monitor the media that their children watch by testing the media first e.g., test apps and play games before your kids download them, view and play games together with them and watch what they watch. When you are aware and involved in what your children are watching, you can know if it is beneficial to your child or not.
- Choosing friends wisely
Children can be easily influenced by their friends both negatively and positively. Negative peer pressure is developed when children are exposed to friends who act in inappropriate ways. For instance, some children are disrespectful to their peers and adults, others do not listen when talked to, others are into habits like betting, etc. Children should be advised on what to look out for when choosing friends so that they are not easily misled. Parents should expose their children to skills that are beneficial to their children e.g., learning an instrument, participating in Church activities, learning how to cook, and getting a mentor for them.
- Adopting healthy habits
Children can be taught healthy habits that will benefit their lives e.g., reading books, learning a sport, eating healthy, personal grooming, limit screen time, keeping a positive attitude, being thankful, being kind and gentle, and many more. When children learn these habits from an early age, they are likely to become responsible citizens. Parents should be deliberate about teaching these virtues to their children so that they become wholesome individuals in life.
- Be present
A parent who is present in a child’s life is likely to influence their children positively. The home is the first place where children learn a lot from. Parents should be deliberate about being present and involved in their child’s lives as this will create a better environment for learning. For instance, if a parent plays the guitar, a child is likely to pick this skill from them. If a parent is a sports lover, children are likely to learn and appreciate the importance of exercise. If children, see a culture of doing daily devotionals they will know that honouring God is important. Parents should take every opportunity they have to teach their children values that will guide them through life.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6(ESV)
By Joy Odhiambo