True discipline comes from inside

Posted by Samantha on January 31, 2011 in Connection, Discipline |

Discipline imposed from the outside eventually defeats when it is not matched by desire from within.

Dawson Trotman, American Christian evangelist (1906 – 1956)

How many families find themselves experiencing the truth of this quote when a previously well-behaved child hits their teenage years and begins to rebel against discipline imposed from the outside?

So great is the desire of a child to please his parents that problems with overly harsh discipline can lie dormant for years.

But the child’s resentment and sadness cannot be hidden indefinitely.

A child who has not been treated with sufficient respect and kindness will reach adolescence lacking the self-respect and self-discipline to withstand the many pressures on today’s teenagers.

And their resentment will bubble over into anger and get acted out in any number of worrisome behaviours like drinking, drug-taking, plummeting school performance, depression, eating disorders and escalating defiance.

This morning, frustrated by my daughter’s reluctance to dress with any degree of hurry, I made a mistake and resorted to harsh discipline.  I told her that our planned after-school trip to the toy shop was off the cards.  We could try again tomorrow morning.  And if she dressed without delay we might be able to go to the toyshop after school tomorrow.  She broke down in tears and I realised my mistake.

The consequences of her dawdling were already being felt: we were running late for free-play before register and I was tetchy and had let her know how I felt (i.e. frustrated and cross).  I really didn’t need to add anything else.  But it was too late now.  The words were out and she was distraught.  I had to carry her into school crying in my arms.

When I collect her in a few hours I intend to take her to the toyshop as I promised.  This is gracious parenting.  My daughter is four.  Her dawdling this morning will be long forgotten.  But whether I choose harsh discipline or loving kindness when I pick her up this afternoon will be remembered for a long time to come.

I know which I will be choosing.  I will be making the decision that I know will foster her desire to co-operate with me from within.

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