Intentional Parenting: Discipline for Future Disciples

3510d49777f4c005b1c9657ac99d441fWe may often be reluctant to share our own discipline stories, even positive ones. Sometimes it works better to hear it from a bystander and get their reaction as well:

I used to be a store manager for Blockbuster. One day this mother and son were checking out and the kid [yelled], “I want a candy bar. Wah wah.” The mother keeps saying “No, I already told you no.” Then this kid thinks he has a fool proof plan. The kid open[s] a Snickers bar right there and takes a bite. He then says “Now you have to buy it.” The mother is shocked and says “You’re absolutely right.” Turns to me and says, “We’ll have the candy bar also.” I scan the candy bar and she says “Now, throw it away please.”
The look on the kid’s face was priceless.

I was standing in line at a major supermarket and in front of me was a woman and a small girl (about [age] 4), and in front of them was a young mother, with a small boy (about [age] 3). The little boy asked his mother for a candy bar, and was told “No.” The little boy then asked for a candy bar again, and he was told “No” again. So at this point he decided to have a temper tantrum. He threw himself on the ground, cried, screamed, [and] called his mother a “stupid head,” amongst all of the classic tantrum behavior. His mother then whispered to the mother standing behind her and they smiled, all while this little boy was hysterical about being denied a candy bar. His mother then took a candy bar from the shelf and put it in her cart. The boy was happy upon witnessing this and his tantrum stopped.
The mother and son then went through the checkout and paid. The mother then turned around and handed the candy bar to the little girl behind her in line. She looked directly at her son and said “Children who behave are rewarded, and children who throw tantrums and embarrass their mothers get nothing.” She turned around on her heels and walked away from the boy who was left silent with his jaw . . . on the floor. . . . It was brilliant.

Discipline, a word which often brings a lot of anxiety, fear, and misunderstanding, is a very difficult subject to discuss in this day and age of political correctness and worry of what others might think. Fear of government intrusion is also a cause of concern for parents. There are just too many stories of children being taken from their parents because they were disciplined in a way a neighbor or social worker disagreed with. Consequently, it is a subject that is often ignored or only joked about before quickly changing the subject. In fact, it is so seldom discussed we are losing the very idea of discipline and just how important it is. But the problem is children need discipline and correction.

No worries though, it is not my intent to tell any parent how to discipline or punish their children. That is a right reserved to the parents and should be between them, their children, and God. If children are to truly learn and progress towards adulthood, discipline will need to be tailored to fit the specific needs of each child. The goal here is to bring discipline back out into the open, explain it, define it, and give parents the knowledge they need to incorporate effective discipline into their parenting. But most of all, the goal is to help their children grow up into amazing adults ready for the challenges of life and their own parenting.

he first step is to follow the pattern set by our Heavenly Father. He established ground rules with consequences if they are not followed:

Now . . . How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment?
Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man.

Our Father in Heaven established consequences for breaking His laws to help teach us, His children. A big part of discipline should be allowing children to experience the consequences of their actions. We can’t fix everything for them or take away all consequences and still expect them to learn from their mistakes. We can give them ideas and even help them, but it’s important to let them work it out themselves as much as they can. We cannot do it for them, but we can stand by them, help them, and guide them.

Now I’m not saying allow a child to be hit by a car as a consequence for running into the road. Before they were allowed to play outside, they should have been warned not to go into the road and what the consequence of disobeying would be. Maybe they were warned the consequences would be remaining inside while everyone else plays outside. Whatever it may be, the consequence needs to be imposed as soon as the rule is broken. All rules need a consequence which fits each child and their actions.

I had to write reports based on whatever I did wrong. Once I got caught in a lie and I had to write a report about 5 famous liars. Once I refused to take a bath and I had to write a report about germs. This was before the internet. We had a set of encyclopedias and that was it. It was surprisingly effective.


I got caught skipping school when I was 14. My Dad told me that he was taking me out of school the next week. Every day that week he would drop me off at a local business (he knew all of these people) and told them “Here’s your free helper! He doesn’t want to go to school, so he gets to work!” They would work me, doing the worst [jobs] ever, for 8 hard hours every day.
One week of that and I was begging to go back to school.

8e92b9e2f94736bb3c08c5e992e1f492When we tell a child there will be a certain punishment for a certain action, we need to follow through with it. Empty threats won’t work very long and they also disassociate punishments from actions. Following through with consequences may seem hard or inconvenient at the time, and often kids will try to make parents feel guilty, but following through will make a parent’s job much easier in the end. If children know punishments always follow incorrect actions, they will soon learn those actions are not worth doing. Over time, the need for punishment often diminishes leaving other types of discipline, instruction and training, with a bigger role. This makes for a much calmer, happier home. We can also help our children understand this is how God works with us as well. This will help prepare them, knowing what He expects from them as well.

by Jennifer Jensen, author of “Raising Intentional Parents