Recently, several parents have mentioned they don’t believe in consequences for young children who disobey. Evidently, everyone under the age of thirty took a vote and decided consequences were old fashioned and made children angry. Unfortunately, they forgot to check the ultimate book of godly wisdom – Proverbs, before voting. I am not referring to the infamous “spare the rod, spoil the child” verse (which by the way is a misquote – see Proverbs 13:24). Even if you ignore that particular verse, Proverbs is filled with admonitions for young people to embrace correction and reproof as a way to grow and become wise and godly.
These young parents are absolutely correct though. Punishment, correction and reproof tends to make people angry. In a very few cases, some people do go overboard, become abusive and encourage rage in their children. I do not think God in any way condones that sort of behavior. There are too many other verses pointing out the amazing love parents have for their children to assume God approves of parents abusing them.
I’ll never forget a particular lunch out with a friend when our daughter was a toddler. Something didn’t go my child’s way and she was definitely thinking about her best course of action. Suddenly, she quickly settled down and the crisis was averted without changing my decision and giving in to her request. My friend looked at me and asked how I did it. At first, I didn’t know what she meant. My friend replied, “I could see her thinking about pitching a fit, but somehow you not only convinced her not to have a tantrum, but that she was perfectly content to obey you.”
I began to analyze why our daughter never pitched a tantrum during her toddler years. Don’t get me wrong, she misbehaved quite a bit (especially at three) and could do her fair share of crying when she was unhappy. She even had to be unwrapped from my legs once or twice as I left her at home with someone else. She never threw a tantrum, though.
When our daughter was tiny she would toddle up to us, tug on our clothes and ask, “Whatcha doin’ up there?” We thought she was adorable. We wrote about it in her baby book and regaled our friends and family with the story.
One of the most fun parts of being a parent is all of the funny, endearing things our children say and do. It brings a bright spot to our days and makes our hearts all warm and fuzzy.
Unfortunately, some parents are setting themselves up for some tough times when their children are in elementary school, teens and beyond. Why? Because these parents find words and behaviors hysterical that are actually warning signs your child is not quite as adorable as you think.
Why Kids Need Reasons explains why I believe we need to take the time to give older children and teens the reasons behind our rules and God’s rules. There are times though when children need to learn to obey just “because I said so”.
When your child is crossing the street and a car is barreling towards him, you don’t have the time to explain how much that car hitting him is going to hurt. Your child needs to know your commands are to be respected and obeyed immediately, because you are the parent. God has asked you to care for her and God expects her to honor and obey you.
For many pre-schoolers, their favorite question is “Why?”. Asking questions is a natural part of learning about the world around them. Often, adults assume this exploration phase ends about the time kids start school. I personally believe though, that children begin to squelch their oral questioning once they discover it irritates many adults.
As adults, we have learned (hopefully) that certain rules and authorities are to be obeyed. We understand God really does know what is best for us. We have a fairly good understanding of concepts like love, manipulation, anger and many others.
Children and teens are still discovering these more abstract worlds. They are figuring out whom they can trust, what works for them in the short term and hopefully what will be in their best interest for the long haul. They are not just trying to learn the rules, they are trying to understand why they became rules and if those rules are really important.