Shepherding the hearts of our kids is one of those daily behaviors that does more to refine and challenge me than anything else in my life. In my interactions with my kids, God reveals more to me about my own humanity than I care to know. Particularly in disciplinary situations.
One thing I’ve learned about kids is that I cannot control their actions. There are times when I try. There are times I guide, nudge, remind, even harass… yet, in the end, they decide what action they will take. Not me.
I don’t know about you, but that really gets under my skin. It’s something I have to actively submit to the Father asking Him for guidance and patience. Recently I was reminded of these words in Ephesians 4:29:
“Don’t say anything that would hurt [another person]. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you.” (GWT)
It’s a timely reminder for me that my role as mom is to Fight for the Heart of my kids, to create a culture of unconditional love in my home that fuels their emotional and moral health. Approaching discipline in a way that is helpful takes practice, planning and patience.
1. I need to practice they way that I talk to my kids.
That means that through my everyday interactions I need to habitually speak words that are helpful to them. It’s easier to do this in positive interactions than negative. However, if I fail to speak helpful words in a positive interaction, it’s guaranteed I won’t speak them in a negative interaction.
2. Good discipline is preceded by good planning.
If my child makes the wrong decision, what are the consequences? Do my kids know those consequences? There have been times we’ve sent a child to their room letting them know, “We’re going to think about the right consequences for your action. In a little while we’ll sit down with you and talk through them.”
3. Patience is critical when fighting for the heart of a child.
Why? Because kids are going to make mistakes. And my ability to be patient with their mistakes communicates an unconditional love to them. They need a safe place to mess up and know that they are capable of doing better the next time.
Patience is a discipline I continue to wrestle down. I’m inherently impatient. Which of these are harder for you?
Cue: Fight for your child’s heart and think about these three words: Practice, Planning, Patience the next time you are faced with a discipline issue.
Gina McClain is the Children’s Ministry Director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Gina is driven by the idea of equipping parents for the journey of teaching their kids how to follow Christ. Based upon her experience as a mom, she identifies with the everyday challenges parents wade through. Gina and her husband, Kyle, have three kids, Keegan, Josie and Connor