Training or Spite

Parents are instructed by God to “train” their children. The whole process of child discipline is the same process as child training. Discipline and training are so intertwined that you cannot have one without the other.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Getting in Your Own Way

Some parental discipline is hardly training, but much more like anger, frustration and even spite toward the child. What is happening is that parents are getting in their own way. Instead of training their child the parent’s feelings and frustrations become more important than the good of the child. That’s when parents move from Training their child to Penalising the child for annoying the parent.

Here are some tell-tale statements from parents that let you know the parent is not thinking about “training” the child, but venting their own frustrations…….

“Get out of here. You make me sick.” “I’m sick of hearing your whining voice.” “I’ve had just about enough of you for one day.” “One more noise out of you and I’ll let you have it.” “Make yourself scarce!” “You just SO annoy me!” “Get to your room. I don’t want to see you.” “Get out of my way.” “I ought to give you a whipping.” “I’m going to feel so much better when I’ve given you a thrashing.” “You’ve pushed me too far this time!”

Train the Child

Godly discipline is for the good of the child. It is not to make the parent feel better. When parents deal with their child based on what will placate the parent’s upset state, those parents are not training their child, but taking out their frustrations on the child.

So let’s remind ourselves that Biblical discipline has the good of the child in mind at all times. The Rod and Reproof give wisdom. The Rod of Correction drives foolishness from the child’s heart. That’s why godly discipline, including smacking a child with a rod, is an expression of love to the child. Those who will not smack their child with a rod are described in the Bible as hating their child.

Godly discipline gives wisdom, removes foolishness and affirms the parent’s love to the child. It is all for the good of the child.

Correction not Anger

The Rod of Correction is not the Rod of Anger. The two are completely opposed. The rod of Correction drives foolishness from the child, but the rod of Anger simply does not work.

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15

“He that sows iniquity will reap vanity: and the rod of his anger will fail.” Proverbs 22:8

The Rod of Correction is for the Good of the Child, which trains the child’s heart and directs the child’s life. The Rod of Anger is used by parents for the good of the parent, venting anger, frustration, resentment and spite.

Spite

I have seen parents act in cruel spite toward their children. Such parents usually choose to banish their child, rather than smack the child. They also speak horrible words of rejection and cursing over the child. They make threats, lash out, bring fear into the heart of the child and leave emotional scars.

A planned discipline regime, using the rod of correction, where you smack the child, give explanation and give plenty of affirmation, is much better than the banishment which some parents think is more humane. Children feel secure when they know the parents will not lash out or respond in anger. They also feel loved when they are not rejected and sent away.

I encourage all parents to look to the Biblical pattern of child training and to clear their own hearts of things that lead to anger and spite.

The Big Stick is not the Big Stick

I love it when I see something in a completely new light. Mostly we don’t need to see “new” things, but to see the old things the way they really are. When our brains are told to interpret things one way or another we can be effectively brain-washed by that instruction. Somehow we overlook the evidence and keep interpreting it according to the definition or label we were told to apply to that thing.

Many of the things we “know” are only things we “believe”. We “believe” them to be true, and thus think we “know” them. But, alas, we are deluded, and are even blind to an accurate interpretation because of the pre-programmed beliefs.

Praise God, He sets us free from deception, because Jesus Christ is the “Truth”! Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life!”

“Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

Deceptive Labels

Education involves learning to put labels on things. The bigger our set of labels the better educated we are. We are able to discern between things when we have a large enough set of labels to enable us to put different things into different categories. Hoorah for labels!

But, if we are given the wrong label for something, then we have not been truly educated at all. In fact, we have been brain-washed, indoctrinated, deceived and denied insight into the truth.

Notice that socialist economists have influenced much of modern academia on economic themes. I expect that the labels a socialist mind conceived for economic processes put those processes in a different light to a Biblical economist, or a capitalist economist.

The label “prehistoric” is a philosophical statement in itself. Biblically speaking nothing is pre-historic, since the Bible record accounts for human history all the way back to day one. But the label “prehistoric” is deceptive and brainwashes the hearer into thinking that there must have been existence before the historical account began. Thus the term “prehistoric” embodies an attack on the Biblical record. It is a deceptive label.

Carrot and Stick

carrot and stick

Let me get toward my point. We have all heard mention of the two forms of motivation, the carrot and the stick. Carrots are positive inducements that prompt people to action. The stick represents negative inducements to action. A carrot might be a bonus for completing a task on time. A stick might be a punitive outcome if the task in not completed on time.

Management theory has addressed the competing tools of the carrot and the stick. And these labels have had a “reductionist” effect on human thinking.

Most people’s first thoughts about motivating themselves or others will orient toward either or both of the carrot and stick. These two categories tend to dominate and thus obliterate perception of alternative possibilities.

Other Possibilities

Many people do what they are asked to do and perform well, simply because that is their choice. They are not motivated by the carrot or the stick, but are simply doing what they have been programmed or trained to do.

Some people make a greater effort out of concern for others who they see under pressure. They pitch in out of social motivation, based on their sense of shared responsibility and their desire to see their friend aided in a difficult situation.

Some people simply love a challenge. They are motivated by realisation of a need and the definition of a clear challenge to overcome that need. The feeling of “We did it!” is all the reward they need.

The Big Stick

Biblical Parenting involves use of the “stick”. King Solomon instructed humanity thousands of years ago to train children by using words and physical discipline. The old English translation, the King James Bible, uses the word “rod of correction” to describe the stick that is used by parents to train their children.

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” Proverbs 29:15

He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him as required.” Proverbs 13:24

Punitive or Therapeutic?

Influenced by the “carrot and stick” labels, how should we interpret the use of the “rod of correction” by parents? It is seen as a punitive, negative reward. It is seen as the opposite of the more positive encouragement inducement or positive reward option.

In a “carrot and stick” world, use of the “rod of correction” is seen as the ugly choice. Caring, sensitive, compassionate, New Age parents think they can discard the cruel ancient wisdom of Solomon and embrace more advanced and enlightened methods of training their children. Such parents aim to use rewards, coaxing, mature negotiation and other alternatives to the offensive “hit the kid with a stick” option.

The “carrot” triumphs over the “stick” in today’s modern homes.

Back to the Book

The Bible was written long before the more modern discussions about the carrot and the stick. And Solomon’s wisdom needs to be seen for what it is, not what the labels have brainwashed us to think it says.

So, let’s go back to the book and see what is really being said about the “rod of correction”. Let me repeat a verse I quoted earlier…

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15

The use of the “rod of correction” is not punitive in this instruction. It is therapeutic! The rod of correction has a specific and vitally important function, and it has nothing to do with motivating a person to do what mummy tells him to do.

The “rod of correction” has a transformational impact on a child’s heart. It drives “foolishness” far from the child. If that foolishness is not driven away, by the use of the “rod of correction”, then the child will carry foolishness in his heart right through his adult life.

The Good of the Child

The “rod of correction” is for the good of the child. A parent who refuses to do this good to their child is described as hating their child.

He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastens him as required.” Proverbs 13:24

The punitive “big stick” is for the good of the manager or the person who wants to get their project done or their will obeyed. The Big Stick is an aid to the teacher, boss, prison warden or similar role where a person in charge demands compliance.

That kind of big stick can lead to abuse and dominance of those under punishment. The “rod of correction” applied for the good of the child cannot be a tool of abuse. It is not an indulgence for the parent, but a blessing to the child.

Quoting Myself

In a recent article on Leadership, titled Leading With Authority, I made an aside about the use of force. I quote myself here….

“Note here that Biblical use of the “rod of correction” is not coercive. Parents are not told to use the rod to get action or obedience. They use the rod of correction only temporarily, in order to create a heart change in their child. Once “foolishness” has been driven from the child’s heart by the “rod of correction” (not the rod of abuse or anger) then the rod becomes redundant. So adult leaders who think they have a Biblical clearance for the use of force and threats are misguided.”

carrot-and-stickBack to the Stick

Parents need to go back to the stick. But the Big Stick is not the Big Stick! The “rod of correction” which godly parents use to train their child is not a “Big Stick” of threat and intimidation to coerce appropriate behaviour. If the stick is used as a “threat” then it is not being properly used.

The “rod of correction” is not of value because of its intimidation and the fear of its use, but by its application and its measured and appropriate use. Godly parents who wisely use the “rod of correction” to remove foolishness from their child can then get on with parenting their child without recourse to the Big Stick. They don’t need to threaten the child, or intimidate the child with the stick waved over the child’s head.

Those two concepts are foreign to each other and have created the kind of confusion that leads some authorities to seek to ban godly discipline. The Rod of Correction is not the Big Stick. It never was and was never meant to be.

It’s time for parents to go back to the “rod of correction”, for the sake of their children. Its application will only be temporary. It is not a punitive and intimidating “negative reinforcement” mechanism. It is a means of delivering the child from foolishness. Once that is done, the rod is put away and your effective parenting continues with those other Biblical training processes you have already been using as well.

Go to it!

Child Discipline Video

Disciplining Children has become a topical issue in many countries where people have sought to restrict the age-old parental responsibility of training and disciplining their children.

Pastor Chris Field provides an important summary of the key Biblical points which clarify the parents’ responsibilities with regard to the training of their children.

The points made in this video are taken from Ps Chris Field’s book, “Parenting Horizons”, which is available from www.FamilyHorizons.net

Our prayer is that this simple teaching video will lead parents into the effective processes which God calls them to employ.

Other videos by Ps Chris Field include ….

SEXUALITY VIDEO“Sacred Nakedness” http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/sacred-nakedness-video

MARRIAGE VIDEO“What is Marriage?” http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/what-is-marriage-video

MARRIAGE VIDEO“50-50 Marriage?” http://chrisfieldblog.com/marriage/50-50-marriage-video

MANHOOD VIDEO“The Manhood Call” http://chrisfieldblog.com/manhood/manhood-call-video

MANHOOD VIDEO“Sacrificial Purpose of Men” http://chrisfieldblog.com/manhood/sacrificial-man-video

TRUTH VIDEO“Where Does Your Truth Come From?” http://chrisfieldblog.com/ministry/truth-video

PARENTING VIDEO“Heart of a Child” http://chrisfieldblog.com/parent/heart-of-child-video

PARENTING VIDEO“Godly Seed” http://chrisfieldblog.com/parent/godly-seed-video

Training Boys

It seems that schools and parents find it difficult to train boys these days and plenty of thought is going into finding effective means to achieve the needed outcomes. I have to smile, or maybe despair, when I hear these discussions, because methinks the real issue is too easily overlooked. But I’ll keep my thoughts on the real issue to later.

For now, let me examine what the experts are saying and what I think lies behind the current predicament confronting those engaged in training boys. Note, too, that much of what is relevant to training boys is also important in training girls as well, so all parents can gain value from reviewing the following notes.

Teaching Boys To Control Themselves

The issue that takes focus for tempering bad boy behaviour is put under the heading of “regulating or controlling one’s emotions”. When a child yells, screams or throws a tantrum they are seen as having a problem regulating or controlling their emotions.

I know that many parents who have seen their children yell, scream and throw a tantrum would not identify the ‘emotions’ as the central issue, but the will. Many children resort to those behaviours in order to get their way, frustrate their parents’ wishes and assert their control over situations. However the psychologists, school administrators and others who confront these behaviours are likely to label the problem as a lack of skills in regulating and controlling emotions.

Professionals not only attribute this lack of emotional control to poor training, but to slow development of the “prefrontal cortex”, so the child “can’t sufficiently moderate the emotional signals of the brain’s limbic system”.

Note that the professional solution to this biological problem is still a matter of learning how to control behaviour. Skilled clinicians are being trained to teach children “how to access rational problem-solving skills”.

Dr Adam Cox

Australia was recently visited by Dr Adam Cox, a USA psychologist who teaches boys how to use what he terms “Executive Thinking”. This type of thinking helps boys in particular, enabling them to better cope with life’s challenges.

Dr Cox’s work comes with high commendation and it is always good to see something that assists in problem areas. And he is very positive about the role of parents in providing discipline to their children. He sees that some parents may give in too much to rowdy behaviour of their children. He also recognises that single-parent homes are handicapped in providing the input needed. Some parents don’t seem to know how and when to discipline.

The Ideal Outcome

The desired result of teaching children “Executive Thinking” is that they gain a level of self-control which regulates their behaviour. Dr Cox points out that children who are without such self-control are in an unhappy situation.

“When children learn these skills, they are noticeably more confident, and generally feel safer. It is a terrible burden to go through life fearing that your emotions may dictate your behavior at any moment.”

Personal confidence and security are the outcomes which Dr Cox recognises in children who do not have behaviour problems. What he is identifying is what every good parent expects and sees in their own children. Well trained and well disciplined children are happy, secure, confident and well-adjusted. Children who must yell, scream and throw tantrums are poorly-adjusted, unhappy, insecure and a misery to deal with.

Good Parenting

I have mentioned that Dr Cox is positive about parenting. The following quote affirms his positive approach to quality parenting.

“I am always inclined to give parents the benefit of the doubt. If parents know how to intervene effectively – they generally will. I just wish that, as a society, we didn’t assume that parenting comes naturally. For most people, it requires lots of patience and practice. Great parenting has much more to do with endurance than engineering!”

My book, “Parenting Horizons – Empowering Parents to Build Generations”, is designed as a clear overview of the challenges with practical guidelines for parents. It is based on clear Biblical principles in an up-to-date language and with analogies and descriptions which clarify the key issues.

Parenting Horizons is available from Family Horizons, at www.familyhorizons.net.

The Real Issue for Boys

Boys are created to become men and to take on leadership in their marriage, home and the broader community. They are created to answer to God for themselves and those they are responsible for. So, boys are specially suited to proper discipline based on just and moral processes, applied by those who have authority over them.

When boys are not subject to clear guidelines, strong discipline and loving authority which calls them to account they become frustrated. At a deep personal level they do not enjoy being morally irrelevant. They want to rise to their created purpose, even if other parts of them wish to indulge rebellion, selfishness or evil.

The real issue for boys is their need for clear and strong discipline. This is consistent with who God made them to be and it prepares them for the responsibilities and authority which they are destined to carry.

Biblical Wisdom

The Bible teaches that boys need clear and attentive direction from their parents. Consider the following verses from the wisdom of Solomon and look for the importance of instruction, discipline and authority in the life of children, and especially boys.

“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.” Proverbs 29:15

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15

A Critique on the Psychological Approach

Children need discipline provided by their parents. When this fails and the child does no behave correctly this is a major problem for the child’s future, as well as those who must struggle to control and assist the child through life.

While physiological issues such as the “prefrontal cortex” and “the brain’s limbic system” may have a part to play the only real solution is not biological, but involves further efforts to train the child.

The real issue for children, and boys in particular, is Training. Biblical training involves physical punishment as more than a motivator, but also as a therapy which removes foolishness from the child.

When parents employ Biblical training, involving the “rod of correction” they will raise happy, secure, confident and well-adjusted children who will not be a problem to those around them.

Training the Heart of a Child

There is no doubt that the heart is the heart of the matter for each of us. This is what the Bible teaches and I have mentioned it elsewhere. The Bible teaches that the responses from the heart dictate the issues of each person’s life. If your heart responds with jealousy to others, for example, then jealousy becomes the main issue of your life. If your heart responds with pride then pride becomes the main issue of your life.

Your Child’s Heart

While you may be concerned with your child’s behaviour and how well they will fit in with your hopes and dreams, the main issue and challenge you should attend to is to train the heart of your child.

You can create an academic or a sportsman out of your child. But their career is not the most important issue. You can teach them to be polite and to please your parents, making a good impression wherever they go, but that is not the most important issue.

You can even train them to be well behaved and compliant all the time, but that is not the most important issue.

Your child’s heart is the most important issue.

Discipline and the Human Heart

Some parents will instruct their child, hoping that understanding will cause them to make wise choices. Some parents will set high standards for their child in the hope that when they miss the mark they are still performing above others. Whatever approach the parent takes the most important matter is the heart, not the actual behaviour.

Three children can all do the right thing, but for different reasons. One child might come when the parent calls, because they hope to get some food. The next child comes, only because they are following their sibling. And the third may tag along because they don’t want to be left on their own. All three have come when the parent called, but none of them has any real strength of character or maturity in their heart.

A well trained heart results in a child doing the right thing for the right reasons in heart, even in the face of oppostion. When a child does what they do not wish to do, with a fear of God and desire to please Him, then their heart is in a much better place than others.

Games Don’t Help

Playing games with your child will not help your child’s heart. Placating the upset child will not help the child’s heart. Allowing the child to get away with doing wrong will not help the child’s heart.

What helps the child is reality. A word of reality is worth a day of game playing. Your child needs to be wise, knowing what God requires of them and doing it because they want to please God.

The fun games which can easily be resorted to rob the child of the chance to discipline their heart and do what is right as an act of worship to God.

The Rod of Correction Helps

According to the wisdom of King Solomon your child’s heart is contaminated with foolishness. The only antidote to foolishness in the heart of a child is the ‘rod of correction’, which is not the same thing as the ‘rod of anger’. When a parent loves his child he will discipline the child with the rod of correction and drive the innate foolishness out of the heart of the child. This is a vital part of training the heart of the child.

Any parent who neglects the use of the ‘rod of correction’ is ignoring the wisdom of God and will fail to remove the foolishness that is in their child’s heart.

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15

Biblical Wisdom Given to the Child

Children respond to reality very well. Rather than telling your child fancy illusory things, instruct them in God’s wisdom and truth. They need to know that they were created by God, for God’s glory. They need to know that God loves them and has a powerful plan for their life. They need to know about the devil and his devices. They need to know of God’s grace and His ability to restore those who have been damaged by their wrong choices.

Children can comprehend that there is a devil who wants to draw them away from God and that it is up to them to choose to trust God even when it is hard to do so. Children can comprehend that when people have chosen to do something that does not please God they become trapped in that sin and find it hard to break free again. They can understand temptation, discipline and the joy of being forgiven.

Don’t hold back Biblical wisdom from your child.

Lighten Up

I have to add this disclaimer, since I have met some pretty intense dads over the years. Some parents are too heavy in their discussion of spiritual realities. Children can feel completely smothered in the weight of spiritual intensity from their parents.

While I advocate spiritual wisdom being taught to the child I also advocate that the parents lighten up. Don’t bury your child in the intensity of the truths you are teaching them. Remember that God wins out in the end. There is no need for your child to want out of life, or to feel that everything will be one enormous burden. Be sure to celebrate God’s supremacy, Christ’s victory, our liberty and the Holy Spirit’s power.

When we have an accurate view of reality we will not be buried in intensity but dancing in anticipation. If your view of Biblical reality does not make you excited then you do not yet know the whole picture.

Turn the Light toward the Heart

When you are dealing with issues either in your child or impacting your child, be sure to open up the heart issues. Turn the spotlight onto the heart to reveal the heart issues in your child which relate to this issue.

When our children were being troubled by other children we would ask our sons, “What must be going on in the heart of that child that he must annoy you in order to be happy?” Our children quickly realised that these trouble children were in fact troubled children. Our children did not envy them nor wish to be like them.

You can also turn the spotlight onto your child’s heart. If they have been annoying one of their siblings you might ask them, “What makes you feel like you need to make your brother unhappy? Are you jealous of your brother?”

Your child is aware of their own heart. Your interrogation or investigation will resonate with their own perception and give them the emotional intelligence to be aware of their own heart.

Train the Human Heart

Once the child has a chance to see their own heart you are able to direct them to respond properly to the issues springing up in their heart.

As they learn to repent and forgive, their heart will be strengthened and they will move away from compromise to clarity and purity of response.

In all that you do as a parent, be sure to train the heart of your child.