A while back, Doug Fields witnessed a parent “smack their kid when he messed up.” This caused him to reflect on how he would have engaged her in a conversation had he had the chance.

I think we’ve all been in this situation before. We witness someone do something and we wish we could either intervene or have an imaginary conversation with them. Here is what Doug thought:

“Consider the confusion the boy received when he got hit for hitting another child. It seems as though it’s teaching the child that hitting is okay if you’re in charge.

“Hitting a child may thwart inappropriate behavior, but there’s a high cost connected to it—emotionally, relationally and physically.

“There’s no one way to discipline children, but there are better ways.”

Doug goes on to offer 5 questions he and his wife would ask when they disciplined their kids:

  1. What did you do?
  2. Why was that behavior wrong?
  3. How could you have handled it better?
  4. Next time, what do you think you could do?
  5. Should you not, what would be a fair & natural consequence?

“These questions gave us some cool down time and also helped us teach our kids to think about their actions. It would have been a lot easier to simply scream and send them to their rooms.”

Recently I was reading a fantastic book on the parental role to “train” their children, and one of the things the author said to NEVER do was to punish in anger. Angry punishment might make the parent feel better in the moment, but it does not “train” a child. It may or may not even cease the behavior. If it does, it is only temporary.

Our charge, as Doug and his wife affirm through their questions, is to “teach his kids to think about their actions,” to train them, and we do this best when we are calm.

Discipline or punishment does not have to happen in the moment. Delayed reaction (and punishments) have a great effect and can be used wisely in the discipline/training of a child/teenager.

Yelling or “smacking,” is not only inappropriate, but it fails to adequately train a child in the way he (or she) should go.

HT Doug Fields