What parent of a misbehaving child hasnt resorted at some point to bribes and threats?
Family Counseling Ministries -
In Article #14 of a 20-part series on Child Discipline
Dr. Dunlap describes a scene he witnessed in a department store. A mother is
unable to get her young son to obey even though she threatens, bribes and tries
to shame him into good behavior. Dr. Dunlap points out the futility of such
disciplinary approaches, and discusses the important difference between
children saying they are sorry for disobedience, and actually admitting that
they were wrong.
A few months ago, my ten-year old daughter and I were
shopping together for her birthday present in a local department store. Nearby,
in the same aisle, we witnessed a loud battle of the wills taking place. A
harried mother was begging her young child, about four years of age, to behave.
First she asked him rather gently if he wanted to settle down. Of course, given
the choice, the boy loudly responded, No!
Next she threatened him, If you dont behave Im going to
take you to the car and leave you there until Im finished shopping.
Obviously, he knew that wasnt going to happen. Then she bribed him, Ok, if
youll be good, Ill buy you some ice-cream when we leave here. I dont want
ice-cream, he protested. I want a Hot Wheels Super Racer!
My daughter and I were waiting to see who would win the battle
of the wills.
At that point, the scene was too intriguing to abandon.
Both my daughter and I wanted to know who was going to win. We might have
guessed. She finally resorted to a dramatic appeal to his emotions by asking
Arent you embarrassed behaving like this if front of those
nice people? Do you want them to think youre a bad boy?
I dont care, I dont care! he wailed, turning on an
impressive waterfall of tears.
Thereupon, the boy slugged his mother in the arm to punctuate
his point. The seemingly helpless mother jerked him up and angrily stormed out
of the store.
My young daughter commented, Wow Dad, she sure doesnt
know anything about biblical discipline, does she? My heart went out to the
young mother because I knew that she could easily have solved her overwhelming
problem if she understood the scriptural truths regarding child rearing.
my reproof appeal to my childs conscience, rather than his or her emotions?
We read in 2 Corinthians 4:2,
By setting forth the truth plainly, we commend ourselves to
every mans conscience in the sight of God.
We should not try to make children feel ashamed or
emotionally embarrassed. Instead, we must seek to make them aware of the fact
that their disobedience displeases God. We ask them to state the disobedient
behavior in their own words. We ask if their behavior was right or wrong, according
to Gods Word. Then we ask them to state what must take placewhat God commands
parents to dowhen they disobey.
the child sorry for disobeying or is the child merely dreading the consequences
of his or her disobedience?
When children disobey, there is a significant difference
between admitting that they are wrong and simply being sorry that they were
caught. We must ask God for the grace and wisdom to guide children to genuine
repentance for their sins.
After we have satisfactorily answered these questions, we
are ready to proceed in applying the rod of reproof to the disobedient child.
Dr. Don Dunlap, a pioneer in the placement of Pastoral Counselors in the
offices of Christian physicians, has conducted over twenty thousand
appointments during his ministerial career. His counseling practice includes
adults, children and families in crisis. Dr. Dunlap is committed to
facilitating a network of telephone counselors. His goal is to provide help for
the many people unable to meet face to face with a competent Bible-based
counselor. For a complete library of Dr. Dunlaps articles, indexed by topic,
go to Family Counseling Ministries.
You may also make an appointment for personal telephone counseling by clicking
on Family Counseling Ministries.
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