Good correction always starts with words. After all that’s
how God corrects us. He uses words, specifically his Word.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and
is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training
in righteousness.” Notice that God’s Word is used for correction.
You want to model the same thing with your own children.
In fact, whether your child is 5 or 15 you might want to
say this, “I’m trying to use words here. If words don’t
work then we’ll have to go to the next step.”
A good second step involves what we call a triangle of
discipline. It has three parts. This triangle of discipline
was modeled after the biblical pattern of repentance. The
first step, the Break is designed to help children settle
down, stop fighting and be willing to work on the problem.
It comes from Jeremiah 8:6 which compares an unrepentant
person to a horse charging into battle. The first thing
children need to do in order for repentance to take place
is to stop and settle down. The Break helps make that happen.
The second part of the triangle of discipline is the Positive
Conclusion. It contains three questions and a statement.
The first question is “What did you do wrong?” That question
helps children deal with the biblical concept of confession.
As you work through the questions and a statement you’ll
have tools for helping children understand and practice
repentance in their lives.
The third part of the triangle of discipline is to go
back to the offense and replay it by practicing doing the
right thing. This strategy completes the repentance process
by helping children do what’s right. Many parents focus
on getting their children to stop doing the wrong thing.
The triangle of discipline helps kids also learn and practice
doing the right thing, an essential element of change.
The triangle of discipline is described in the book Good
and Angry, Exchanging Frustration for Character in You
and Your Kids. The best way for you to understand and apply
all of the parts of the triangle of discipline is to work
through the Heart
Work Training Manuals and CDs. There
are eight lessons in the kit. Lesson three is called Correction
Ideas that Touch the Heart and lesson five is entitled
Discipline Times with Impact. These two lessons
are available in the kit or sold separately. They will
walk you through the process of developing the Break and
the Positive Conclusion in your family.
Sometimes the triangle of discipline isn’t working and
that’s when you’ll want to add the Toolbox
of Consequences. This workbook and CD is lesson four in the Heart
Work Training Manuals and CDs and it contains seven categories of consequences
you can use with your children. But more importantly than
those tools is the way that you use them. You want to motivate
heart change. Too many parents use “if…then…” statements
or post a consequence chart on the refrigerator. This clearly
defines expectations, but is simple behavior modification.
Parents need to go deeper and address the heart as well.
It’s better to view consequences with a map mentality.
Your child has a problem. It’s a heart problem. Once you
identify the heart quality as lack of cooperation or dishonesty
or unkindness, then you’ll want to identify the positive
quality you’d like to see instead: cooperation, honesty,
or kindness. The negative quality is point A on the map;
the new quality is point B. Consequences motivate a child
to move from point A to point B and become the road signs
and detour signs that tell your child which direction to
go and which direction is unpleasant or unproductive. Consequences
are not the end in and of themselves, they’re the tools
that motivate children to change.
This view of consequences is different than most parents
are used to. It’s part of a heart-based approach to parenting.
The book Parenting is Heart
Work explains more about
the heart and how to help children on a heart level.
Although simple behavior modification may work with some
children, at least when they’re young, most parents find
themselves frustrated, throwing their hands in the air,
or saying that they’ve tried everything to help their
child change. As we work with parents to teach them a
heart-based approach to parenting, children change. It’s
amazing. It takes work. But the results are worth it
in the end.