I only have two rules that when broken automatically call for the rod—no questions asked nor pleadings allowed when my daughter disobeys and shows disrespect.
Disobedience is when I give an order, and Gummy responds with a challenge (“But Mum you said I can watch on a weekend…” ); an excuse (“But Mum I’m not done yet…”); or delay (“Okay Mum after this I will do that…”).
Disrespect is when she talks to me like an equal, speaks with an impolite tone or covers my mouth when I am talking. You may think that these are just petty things that should be easily forgiven. But I want you to keep in mind that the earlier you pull the weed, the better for the plant.
The danger in overlooking and letting small things like these slip and allow our children to get away with them is that it makes them think they always have a way out. For instance, when we get them used to the method of counting “1-2-3,” they think that their behaviour is OK just as long as they don’t do it a third time. When we tolerate behavior like that, we are actually training them to disobey. I always remind Gummy that when Mummy says something the first time, that is the last time. Again, to obey means to do what Mum tells you—without challenge, without excuse and without delay.
Often our children also have a way of charming their way to get what they want—which is challenging parental authority and directives. A classic example is giving us the “puppy eyes” (i.e. magpa-cute lang, naaawa na tayo), and we give them what they want. Sometimes they even go to the extent of crying to choking to pretending to throw up. But when we give in to them when they do that it trains them that they can actually get what they want using those methods.
That’s a perfect illustration of folly being bound up in the heart of a child (Proverbs 22:15). And while they are young, they must already learn the right way to ask for and get things—certainly it is not through crying nor throwing tantrums. Keep in mind parents, when you feel the need to discipline but the feeling of pity is stronger, do not lose heart and bear this verse in mind: Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Next week, I will talk about how to enforce punishment when your child has broken the rules of obeying and respecting elders.