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Instilling Discipline

3 Tips for Instilling Discipline in Children

Jun 24, 2024 | Teach Kids Articles

July 4th is right around the corner and with it comes a lot of talk about independence. As Americans, we value our independence, with the Fourth of July commemorating the United States’ declaration of independence and the birth of our nation. But with independence comes responsibility, and these are both traits that are important lessons for children to learn.

For many parents, our goal is to raise our children to become independent adults, looking forward to their own “independence day” when they one day go off on their own to lead their own lives. But to get there, we have to be proactive in instilling discipline in children and teaching kids responsibility—responsibility to work, to make their own money, to organize their time, pay their bills, prepare meals, clean their home, take care of their bodies and social relationships, and get things fixed. To have independence without instilling discipline in children is trouble waiting to happen. For their own sake, we need to be teaching kids responsibility at an early age.

Often in today’s culture, “discipline” has become synonymous with harsh punishment. But healthy discipline, when doled out correctly, is rather a means of growing self-control and teaching kids responsibility to help them be self-motivated, successful, independent adults. Instilling discipline in children, however, takes hard work. You may be tempted to not hold your children accountable and just let them do their own thing. But be encouraged: while hard work, instilling discipline in children and teaching kids responsibility is well worth it in the end when they grow up to be responsible, happy, independent adults.

Here are three ways you can start teaching kids responsibility and instilling discipline in children.

1. Establish Consequences

The first thing you can do to begin instilling discipline in children and teaching kids responsibility is to establish consequences for disobedience and talk to your children about them. To do this, consider creating a chart for each of your children with three consequences listed on the bottom and three rewards listed on the top, with a paperclip attached on the side. These rewards could be “choose a movie to watch”, “choose a family game to play”, or “choose a special dessert”, while the consequences could be “no dessert”, “no TV” (including video games), and “go to bed early”.

Each morning, start their paperclip in the middle. As they obey throughout the day, move their paperclip up to earn a reward, or down in moments when they’ve disobeyed. Throughout the day, depending on their behavior, kids can actively see the consequences of their actions, while what they did that evening depended on where their clip was. Teaching kids to understand consequences early will help produce responsible, independent adults later on in life.

2. Be Consistent

Second, when teaching kids responsibility or instilling discipline in children, be consistent. When you ask a child to do something, actually expect them to do it. Maybe you’ve heard the parent who counts to three by saying “one, two… two and a half…” with longer pauses before the final “three.” This doesn’t do anyone a service as it teaches kids to not take you seriously when you set down a boundary or consequence. If a child disobeys after the rules were made clear, move quickly to your established consequence for disobedience. If kids know you will follow through because you consistently have in the past, this will help lead to immediate obedience based on trust, not fear. This can also help reduce frustration over uncertain boundaries and hold anger in check. When children are allowed to continue their bad behavior, it will only reinforce that behavior.

Using consistency when instilling discipline in children is also important when teaching ministry. Kids need to learn classroom discipline—whether it’s the discipline of not talking in class, sitting still, or not bothering others. How well do you hold children accountable to do what they should do? Teaching kids responsibility for their actions and instilling discipline in children will help them become confident, independent adults who respect others and manage their own emotions in a healthy manner later.

3. Remind Kids Why Good Behavior is Important

Third, when teaching kids responsibility or instilling discipline in children, whenever rules are questioned, remind kids why good behavior it’s important and just Who expects it of them. God, the Creator of all things, is the one who has established right and wrong. The Bible tells us how God wants us to live, and proves why obeying His rules will always be for our best interest. It’s our responsibility to train children in the way they should go according to God’s Word. This means teaching kids to understand God’s position of authority over their lives, and that God has established other positions of authority they should respect—such as parents, teachers, or other trusted adults who know better and will always act in the child’s best interest.

Teaching children to study the Bible to learn about God and what He has to say will help produce loving, confident, capable human beings. After all, our goal when raising children is that they grow up to become independent adults. But to get there, we need to be proactive in teaching kids responsibility and instilling discipline into children so that, one day, we can celebrate their independence day.

This content is from the CEF podcast Teach Kids.  Listen to more content like this on the Teach Kids podcast through your favorite podcast platform.  #TeachKids #KidsMin

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