Discipline with Encouragement
By Lee Ann Mancini
Guest Blog Post
Discipline with encouragement. That’s something easier said than done. When our children misbehave, encouraging words may be the last things on our minds.
Yet when we discipline our children in anger, our efforts backfire. Instead of helping them develop good character, we discourage them.
Here are some ways we can encourage them instead:
Do What I Say Not What I Do?
We need to be good examples. How often do we expect our children to improve in areas where we fail?
For example, we tell our children to use their words wisely. But do we? We tell our children to think before they speak. Do we do the same?
A Gentle Answer
Proverbs 15: 1 wisely instructs us, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.”
Everyone listens better when we stay calm and treat one another with respect.
Body Language and Tone of Voice
Infants and toddlers understand our facial expressions and the tones of our voices before they start communicating. If we yell at our children, it may cause them to withdraw into their own worlds.
Also, when we shout at children, it teaches them that yelling is an acceptable form of communication. They might exhibit this form of dialogue in return.
All our efforts to teach our children to use kind and respectful language can be undone by the media. Make sure you know what your children are watching and listening to at all times.
Be wise about media influence. The media spews offensive and disrespectful language often, and children are listening.
Negative vs. Positive Statements
As children grow, negative and positive statements have a strong impact on their emotional (heart) and psychological (mind) development.
Negative words hurt. They affect all areas of your child’s life: social, emotional, and cognitive.
Negativity breeds negativity. The way we speak to our children can foster low self-esteem. They may think, Nothing I do or say is right, so why even try?
Support Your Child with Positive Phrases
Here are a few phrases to use next time you dialogue with your child:
|Instead of saying this…||…say this instead:|
|“It’s really not hard to do.”||“You can do hard things.”|
|“Just stop crying.”||“If you need to cry, it’s okay.”|
|“You need help again?”||“How can I help you?”|
|“What a huge mess you made.”||“You had fun, let’s clean up!”|
|“I told you that already.”||“Let me explain another way.”|
|“Do I need to separate you two?”||“Do you need a break from each other?”|
|“You’re fine, just stop.”||“How can I help you?”|
|“You’re okay.”||“How are you feeling?”|
|“Don’t be rude or mean.”||“Please use kind words.”|
|“It’s not hard to do.”||“Do you need help?”|
|“Big boys/girls don’t cry.”||“Why are you crying?”|
|“You can do better than that.”||“Good job for trying!”|
|“Don’t be a baby.”||“Why are you sad?”|
|“I’ve said that 100 times!”||“Let me explain again.”|
|“I’m disappointed in you.”||“Let’s talk this over.”|
|“Because I said so.”||“This is why.”|
Encourage with Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement helps to encourage the desired behavior. Acknowledging good behavior and exhibiting love and faith bring better results than negative comments, threats, or punishment.
Say, “Remember to brush your teeth well” instead of, “Don’t forget to brush your teeth.” Leave out the negative connotation.
Telling your child that he did a great job brushing his teeth motivates him to want to continue to do a good job brushing his teeth.
Also, explain why what he did warranted a “good job” so he will remember how to repeat that “good job” again.
Words that Build Up
We are to use edifying words always. God’s Word says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV).
The Bible also tells us to speak in love (see 1 Corinthians 13:1). When we speak lovingly to our children, our kind encouragement not only enters their minds, but most importantly, it enters their hearts. It’s the transformation of children’s hearts that truly transforms their character.
Let’s raise strong Christian kids for their salvation and the preservation of Christianity!
About Lee Ann Mancini
Lee Ann Mancini a Bible college professor and the author and publisher of the Sea Kids series. She is passionate about helping children build a strong foundation in Jesus, while learning compassion and love for others.
Lee Ann’s podcast, Raising Christian Kids, empowers and equips parents, grandparents, and all who are raising the next generation to be the spiritual leaders they need to be.