Raising children is one thing. Technically, I suppose anyone could do it. On the other hand, raising children “…in the training and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4)” is a whole different ball game. Discipline in particular is something I have really struggled with. As my children grow older, I am constantly striving to find the appropriate way to discipline them when discipline become necessary. It has been one of my greater challenges. I have talked with experienced mothers who have older children that seem to love the Lord and are well-behaved, I have read many books, including the Bible. The problem seems to be that there are so many different interpretations, that it can get confusing. And I have not yet felt God leading me in a distinct direction as to the type of methods to use. Another area we have struggled with is in the area of consistency with discipline. Although the children are pretty understanding of WHEN discipline is required, we have been somewhat lacking in consistency of the TYPE of discipline we use. I am guilty of it myself, but particularly when you add in the fact the S is gone so much, then he comes in and may need to discipline a behavior, and his method may be completely different than mine. Until now!

Although we are still praying and learning about the best method of discipline (which I am learning will change as the children grow), I found a resource that is basically a consequence chart. The chart is preprinted and laminated (for dry-erase marker). In the first column, misbehaviors are assigned a category such as “disobedience,” “lying,” “hitting, kicking, etc.,” to which you can pencil in others (like we had to add “yelling” (an issue JR is currently having with M) and “spitting” (an issue M is currently dealing with). This category contains both text and a picture (to help younger children). The second column has a scripture reference that pertains to that behavior. The third column is blank, so you pencil in your method of discipline for that behavior and for the appropriate ages of your children (i.e. “2 spanks,” “2 min. time out,” “double restitution,” “lose privilege,” etc.) Then, when the child misbehaves, we take them to the chart, find the appropriate category, read the corresponding scripture, and discuss the necessary discipline.

I have only been using the chart for a couple of days, but we absolutely LOVE it. We have changed our categorical disciplinary methods a time or two as we get into a more realistic, consistent “groove,” but the chart has proven advantageous in more ways than I expected. First, because it is posted in a fairly central location, it is a presence in our lives. Interestingly, I have not found myself viewing it as a “discipline chart” as I expected, but more as a scripture-based resource to help me “train” my children. Secondly, when the children misbehave, we go to the chart. Taking the time to go the chart between action and discipline, encourages me or S to regain our composure and ensure we are disciplining with the right attitude ourselves. Having the scripture there further encourages such. Thirdly, the children are already memorizing (not that they misbehave that often, it is just that easy to use!) the actions and the corresponding consequences. They are not yet memorizing the scripture, but we will work on that. It also helps ensure the children understand exactly what they did wrong, why it was wrong, and what result must ensue. Fourthly, it provides predictable consistency from behavior to behavior, and between S and I. Fifthly, I have found I do not feel as guilty about disciplining my children. When I have it black & white, according to God’s own word, it makes me more confident that I am doing what is best for my children, and helps me to remember that God will also discipline me when I do those same behaviors. It helps distinguish between “pettiness” and helps you identify the true sin in a behavior, which in turn, helps me guide my children biblically and prevents unnecessary or confusing discipline. I only wish I had been smart enough to develop this myself!