THE BIBLICAL APPROACH TO SPANKING by Chip Ingram
Seven steps to disciplining your child.
Regardless of the method, the Bible’s word on discipline clearly demands that parents be responsible and diligent in spanking, but strongly prohibits physical abuse of any kind. Obviously, the biblical approach is balanced, reasonable, and controlled. So let’s get very practical. What does it look like to spank in a way that obeys Scripture, modifies attitudes and behavior, and actually strengthens the bond between parent and child?
Don’t panic when you have to use action to enforce discipline. I know how much second-guessing a parent can do. Let me give you seven key steps that will enable you to discipline your child without fear of overstepping your bounds.
1. Clear warning.
Your first interaction with your child about a situation should be verbal. A child should never be blindsided by the discipline you hand down to her. It should always be preceded by a clear warning, both for her sake and for yours. You want to know whether your child deliberately crossed a line or made an honest mistake. A clear warning will help her steer clear of danger and will help you know you’re correcting intentional disobedience. That’s why it would be appropriate to issue a warning to Johnny the first time you see him walking out of the neighbor boy’s house.
The enforcement of discipline comes only after words have not done the job. Physical means of correction are only appropriate in cases of clear disobedience, and then only at certain ages.
2. Establish responsibility.
It’s important for your child to own up to his misbehavior. Many parents make the mistake of asking, “Why did you do that?” That’s not a good question;
“why” doesn’t help him admit his responsibility in the situation. Besides being a theological no-brainer — your child is a sinner with a predisposition to disobedience, which he inherited from you and every other generation all the way back to the first parents in the Garden — that question gives him room to inject shades of gray into his understanding and explanations. He’ll begin to rationalize, and you’ll lose sight of the real issue. Here’s a better way to go about it:
“Johnny, what did you do wrong?”
“Nothing. Everyone was going over to that house, and I just went in for a minute.”
“Try again. What did you do wrong?”
“I only went in to …”
“I’m going to give you one more chance. What did we talk about?”
“I’m not supposed to go over there for any reason.”
“So what did you do wrong?”
“I disobeyed you.”
Do you see how, with that kind of conversation, you’re calm, controlled, and not trying to punish? You’re trying to help him learn. Remember that your child can’t learn without being able to own up to his responsibility. No one can. When you put your child in a position of having to do that, you’re preparing him for responsible adulthood.
Remember to always keep your focus on the child’s behavior, not his identity. If Johnny says, “I’m a bad person” or “You don’t like me anymore,” affirm how much he is loved and how special he is, but turn his attention immediately back to his actions. You want him to understand that the act was wrong and that he is fully capable of doing the right thing.
(To be continued)
Taken from Effective Parenting in a Defective World published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2006 by Chip Ingram. All rights reserved