“Love your children by disciplining them.” Pr 13:24 TM

Children who are a joy to live with don’t get that way by living in a lawless home. Ever see the movie Bonnie and Clyde? The big story behind Bonnie is the mother who raised her. She thought everything Bonnie did was “cute.” She actually eulogized her: “As the flowers are made brighter by the sunshine and dew; this world is made brighter by folks like you!” But Bonnie wasn’t so cute when she went on a murderous rampage. Giving your child structure makes them feel cared for and secure. So here are two guidelines: (1) Explain the rules clearly. Punishing a child over a rule they don’t understand just makes them resentful. The fewer your rules the better—just make them understandable, doable, and observable. “Preaching” and moralizing only creates resistance. (2) Enforce the rules consistently. What brings a smile today shouldn’t bring a slap tomorrow. Inconsistency weakens your authority and breeds disobedience in them. Here are some things to shun: (a) Avoid comparing. No child should be expected to be just like another. (b) Avoid hurtful labels like “You’re stupid, lazy, bad, a waste of time,” etc. Describe their actions; don’t demolish their self-worth. (c) Avoid idle threats. Enforce the rule, or drop it. (d) Avoid bribes; they just breed manipulation and diminish the importance of rules. (e) Avoid making fun of their weaknesses. (f) Don’t fear saying “No!” Their future success and happiness depend on learning to deal with it. (g) Admit your failures. However, though you “blow it” occasionally, you’re still responsible to require they follow your laws, not your lapses!