Today I was at my favorite restaurant/office (McDonalds—thank you for free McInternet) and I observed a mom lose control and smack her child. It appears he got spanked because he hit another boy in the play area.

I’ve been doing a lot of parenting seminars lately and this led to reflect on what I would have told her had we engaged in conversation.

Growing up, my parents would spank me. My dad had an interesting technique though… I can remember him getting mad, deciding he was going to spank me and he’d say, “Douglas, go get me something to hit you with.”

Now, this sounds funny. Then, it sounded rational.

I eventually learned that the longer I took to get something for him to hit me with, the more he would cool off and the easier the spanking would be. Once I was tempted to return with a pillow… but he didn’t seem like he would think it was funny.

Disciple is unique. There’s no one way, but there’s got to be a better way than just smacking a kid when he messes up.

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.

Here are five questions Cathy and I tried to use when we had to discipline our 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.

Healthy parenting requires we use wisdom, discernment and confidence. I was lacking all three of those today at McDonalds. There’s a part of me that believes I could have engaged in a conversation and related to the parent’s frustration and made a connection and possibly made a difference in her approach. But, I didn’t.

Instead, I’m writing about it. Oh well, I hope it’s at least helpful for you.

Question: What do you find is the most difficult part of expressing discipline to your own children? Share your thoughts here.


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