So, after divulging into Part 4: Biblical Discipline, and learning what the rod is, we understand that:
- The rod represents a parent’s God-given authority to enforce the rules of their home. This includes everything leading up to and including corporal punishment (i.e. standing in a corner, writing sentences, extra chores, spanking a hand or backside, etc.)
- When sin nature is allowed to grow unchecked, we end up with toddler tantrums, rebellious teens, and destructive adults. God’s Word instructs us to use the rod to discipline our children, combining it with communication (rebuke, instruction, correction, etc.) to train our children in wisdom.
- The rod is a rod of correction (Proverbs 29:15,17), not a rod of irritation. Our goal is not to punish them for wrongdoing, but to restore them to a right heart attitude.
When I read Shepherding A Child’s Heart, I found myself nodding along in several places. As I read, I was interested in finding out how we should use the rod and at what age.
Remember, ‘the rod’ is everything leading up to and including spankings. And as we talked in Part 3, spankings gradually diminish as your children get older and communication plays a bigger role. Today we’re specifically addressing spankings as this is the area most of us have questions.
Submission to Authority
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise:
that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:1-3
Before we get into the details, I want to briefly address the topics of submission and authority.
I won’t mince words here. One of the biggest problems with youth today is their lack of respect. I can’t tell you how many situations I’ve been in, whether as a public speaker or a bystander in a grocery store, that I’ve been stunned at the total disregard in children/youth/teens for authority. I’m sure I’ve stood with my mouth hanging open more than once!
Please don’t hear me saying that my children never buck Travis’s or my authority – in fact right now we’re dealing with Sierra (our two year-old) not coming to us when we call her.
No child wants to be ruled, it’s not in their nature. But the most important lesson a child will learn is submission to authority – because he will always be under someone’s authority. I’m don’t mean just mom and dad because that eventually ends. I’m talking teachers and employers too. And most importantly, God’s authority.
The earlier we establish authority, the easier it is on our children. If we let them run rampant until they’re eight or ten and then suddenly expect them to submit to us, we might as well have asked them to speak fluent Russian. A submissive and respectful teen doesn’t happen overnight. They’re the result of respectful 2, 3, 4, & 5 year-olds.
Submitting to authority means your child does what he’s told without:
“When you have given a directive that he has heard and is within his capacity to understand and he has not obeyed without challenge, without excuse or without delay, he needs a spanking.” Shepherding a Child’s Heart, pg. 149
The answer is pretty simple – so simple I sometimes have the habit of second guessing it. But Tedd Tripp continues to remind us that if we accept a whining, “why?” or a child who drags his feet and comes up with a bunch of excuses on his way to bed, we’re teaching them to disregard our authority and anything we might have already taught them about obedience.
We shouldn’t have to warn, or count to three, or ask them if they want a spanking (what child says yes?!). If we do that we’re teaching them that they can disobey until we start to get out of our chair, or until we reach the number 2. . .2 1/2. . .2 3/4. Our children need to learn that when we speak for the first time, we’ve spoken for the last time.
It’s tempting to want to wait until your child is old enough to express himself with words before you begin disciplining. But if you wait that long, the damage has already begun. Even seemingly simple rebellion like an arched back while changing a diaper or crying and stamping feet when they don’t want to go with you is a form of rebellion that is best nipped in the bud.
This, in turn, makes it essential that we discipline with consistency.
When training a child through communication and discipline, it’s imperative that we’re consistent. The rules have to be the same every day.
Imagine if your new boss told you that your daily report needed to be on his desk by 5:00 p.m. Two weeks into your job he barges into your office and yells at you because your last report wasn’t on his desk at noon and for the following three months he insists your report be handed in at noon.
Then one day, after you’ve handed in your report on time, he berates you for pushing your report under his nose instead of handing it in at 5:00 as was originally specified.
You’d be left with your head spinning and more than likely contacting someone higher up in the company and saying, “This isn’t fair. He can’t do that!” Think about that. You’re an adult and it would frustrate you. If we’re changing the rules on our children, how much more does it frustrate and confuse them?
“But wait,” you say, “can’t I allow a little leeway? I’d be acting like a drill sergeant!”
Yes and no. First, you must stick to your guns and remain consistent about not letting them challenge you – even if they think you’re being unfair. Don’t give in to their excuses – they’ll never run out. And don’t accept delay in responding to your request. This shouldn’t be negotiable. However, you can teach them to appeal to you in a way that is respectful and honoring.
Letting your children appeal to you lets them know you’re not a machine ;), and that you will take their thoughts and ideas into consideration. It also gives you a chance to reconsider a directive you might have given without ample consideration.
However, there are important guidelines:
- your children must begin to obey before they appeal to you, not afterwards
- they must appeal respectfully
- they must be prepared and willing to obey either way and accept your decision with a good attitude
The How of Spanking
Remember in Part 4, when we talked about how most people think of ‘the rod’ or spankings with a red-faced parent angrily spanking the backside of a screaming child? This is the exact opposite of what Biblical discipline with a spanking should look like.
We must never respond in anger. That doesn’t mean we can’t be angry with something they’ve done. However we shouldn’t respond simply because our children have angered us – but because we need to address their heart attitudes. We need to temper our firmness with kindness and gentleness. Control and communication.
A better method might look like this:
1. Take the child to a private place when disciplining, whether when communicating or spanking. For a child to discuss his wrong-doing with his parent is one thing. But to expect him to bare his heart, his frustration and hurt, as well as receive a spanking in front of others, is another. Don’t humiliate him – show respect by giving him privacy.
2. Be sure he knows exactly why he’s being disciplined. This might take extra time – but it needs to be done. Kneel down so that you’re at eye level. Ask him if he knows what his offense was. Sometimes we skip asking and simply demand, “Why didn’t you listen to me?” This rarely works for younger children because they have a hard time putting their thoughts into words. If they’re too little to verbalize, yet big enough to understand when you’ve given a directive, you can ask questions like:
“What did mommy ask you to do?” (You may have to help him out and simply state: “Mommy asked you to stop throwing toys, didn’t I?”)
“Did you do what I asked?” (or be more specific with, “Did you stop throwing toys when I asked you to?”)
“So mommy asked you to stop throwing toys and you didn’t listen, right?
3. Once he understands his offense, make sure to express your concern that he didn’t obey you. Explain the dangers of throwing toys. Remind him that he needs to obey you without excuse, challenge, or delay (you may need to put this into age appropriate wording. ;))
4. Tell him how many swats he’ll receive before you spank him. I really appreciated this idea from Tedd Tripp. If you tell your child he’ll receive three swats for instance, you’re doing two things:
- your showing him that you have control, that you’re not going to spank until your anger is abated
- your keeping yourself accountable and controlled
5. After the spanking is done, and he has calmed, restore your relationship with a hug. Tell him how much you love him, how much it grieves you to spank him, and how you hope it will not be necessary again.
Discipline done this way brings in both ‘the rod’ and communication in a loving and controlled way.
What if my child says they didn’t hear me?
First, try to look them in the eye when you tell them a directive you want them to obey. I have a terrible habit of hollering up the stairs and expecting the kids to hear me. It’s unfair to them if you don’t speak to them directly yet you expect to be obeyed.
On the other hand, your child might say he didn’t hear you as an excuse for not listening. If you’ve taken the time to give your directions clearly, then it’s their responsibility to ‘perk up their ears’ and listen.
All I’ll be doing is spanking!
It might seem like that’s what will happen, but if your consistent and careful to communicate while using ‘the rod’ as it is intended, it shouldn’t take long before your children begin to respect your authority. Ask yourself:
- Are you tolerating disobedience one day and then getting upset about it another day?
- Are you responding in anger because you’ve ‘had it’? The best thing to do in this situation is have your child go to his room or sit in a chair until you’ve had a chance to go to God and seek a calm heart and a God-honoring attitude. Then go back and discipline – don’t let the incident go. If you’ve already responded in uncontrolled anger, apologize and explain how you acted wrongly.
What if we’re in public?
This is a valid concern seeing as our culture does not distinguish between Biblical discipline and child abuse. If you can find a private place, do so. However, you may have to choose between letting it go or firmly telling them the spanking will come once you’re back home.
When that time comes, be sure to talk through what happened and continue in the pattern from above.
If you have to let the incident go don’t be too concerned. The more you’re consistent at home, the less public displays of disobedience will happen.
What if I think he’s lying to me?
Start with a discussion of integrity and the importance of telling the truth. There may be times that doesn’t work – so do you call him a liar? No. If he doesn’t confess, he’ll get away with it for now. But if deceit is a habit, it will catch up with him eventually and you can address it then, when you know for sure that he’s lying.
Parenting, communication, and the Biblical use of the rod – it takes time and patience. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to turn to God and pray that you’re heart will be changed, that your children’s hearts will be changed, and that your actions and attitudes will bring Him glory.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. I encourage you to read Tedd Tripp’s book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart for yourself – and your children! 🙂
Shared With: Time-Warp Wife, Far Above Rubies, Vintage Wanna Bee, Growing Home, Women Living Well, Raising Homemakers, Our Simple Country Life, Deep Roots at Home, Your Thriving Family, Comfy in the Kitchen, Christian Mommy Blogger, The Modest Mom Blog,
photo credit: Free Digital Photos