Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart

While I spent a lot of time reading and listening to seminars on parenting when my kids were little, I think that much of my parenting philosophy comes from two memories from my childhood. First, though I remember hiding under my bed because I didn’t want to get a spanking, I don’t remember EVER getting one. Second, I once had my mouth washed out with soap, and I STILL have no idea why. So, I wanted my kids to have a healthy respect for authority–to know that I mean business–but not to punish them willy nilly in such a way that they have no idea what’s happening. As a child, the first memory taught me that I have control over my behavior and can make good choices; the second made me feel completely powerless and voiceless.

It took awhile for me to figure out my strategy (my poor firstborn! lol), but when my older kids were little, I followed a few very simple rules for discipline.

  1. Only spank for willful disrespect or willful disobedience or when the child’s actions put him/her or another child in danger. Otherwise, use creative, age appropriate discipline–you really have to know your children!
  2. Never, ever spank out of anger. If you get angry, then you are not in control of your emotions.
  3. Always make sure the child truly understands what he/she did wrong and can both confess and ask for forgiveness for it. When children are younger than 2/3, they may not be able to make the connection between wrong doing and punishment–most of the time they are just being toddlers. Removing them from the situation/redirecting is usually the best choice.
  4. Always root discipline in God’s word–as a parent, I am responsible for following God’s word in raising up my children in the way they should go. To not discipline would be to disobey God. I taught my children verses to show that I am not the ultimate authority–God is. (God says, “Be kind to one another,” etc.)

These principles worked well when my kids were little, but, now that they are older (10, 12, and 14), I sometimes feel like I’m navigating foreign waters! So, when I saw Jim and Lynne Jackson’s Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart: Building Faith, Wisdom, and Character in the Messes of Daily Life, it definitely caught my attention. This quote from the back cover sums up the content of the book, “You’ll learn to communicate even when your kids are at their worst, that they are SAFE with you, LOVED no matter what, CAPABLE of wise choices, and RESPONSIBLE to make right the things they’ve made wrong.”

The book teaches a method of discipline that aligns with my own strategy, but gives me some additional tools for communicating with my older children. The first two steps, Foundation and Connect, provide a foundation of safety and connection–kids are safe and loved, no matter what. The third step, Coach, teaches kids that they are called and capable of making good choices. Finally, the fourth step, Correct, teaches kids to be responsible for their actions–owning their choices and making things right.

Overall, the basic message the authors provide is to stay calm and think through each situation. Know your kids, know yourself, and apply God’s word to every situation. The authors provide so many examples of how to implement their strategies with specific wording so that there is no questioning what they are trying to teach. One of the most powerful examples they gave was thinking about someone correcting you the way you correct your kids. Think about how you would feel if someone spoke to you the way you speak to your kids. Wow! Readers may not agree with every example given, but even the most seasoned parents with the most well-behaved children will find nuggets of wisdom in this book. I really appreciate that the authors’ kids are grown-this tells me that these strategies do work long term! If you’re looking for a new perspective on discipline, I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book.

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.*

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