Among most parents, it’s understood that children need discipline. But have you ever considered that your child actually wants to be disciplined? Sure, he may protest when you send him to his room, but many experts say children actually crave discipline.
I am currently reading Make Your Children Mind without Losing Yours by Kevin Leman and in the book, he says, “They don’t test us out of orneriness; what they really want to know is whether or not we care. When we are firm and prove that we do care, they may not like it but they do respect us and appreciate us,” (p. 88).
Discipline shows you care
Our children want discipline simply to know that we care about them. When you discipline your child, you are showing that you have a vested interest in how he behaves. You show that you care about what he does and who he becomes.
Some children of permissive parents will act out simply to challenge their parents to discipline them. They will try every misdeed in the book to see if their parents care enough to discipline them. Sadly, this tactic usually backfires on them. Not only do they not receive loving discipline, but also they get shouting, frustrated parents who lash out once they have reached their breaking point. (Think Supernanny.)
Discipline allows children to learn
Our children also want discipline so they can learn to navigate the world around them. In most cases, our children come from a place of innocence and want to please their parents. However, they are still learning the ways of the world and need their parents’ discipline to redirect them towards right behavior.
No matter how young, on some level, your child recognizes that he needs this discipline to learn how to behave in the world. He knows that the world can be a big, scary place, and he depends on you to teach and guide him by disciplining those behaviors that are not acceptable in our world.
Discipline cleanses the soul
Most importantly, disciplining your child can cleanse his soul. When you discipline, the behavior is spoken about openly and is addressed with love. The child understands what he did wrong and has the opportunity to apologize for his actions. He also has the opportunity to receive forgiveness from those he offended. Once he repents and receives forgiveness, his slate is wiped clean.
When a child misbehaves and receives no discipline, he may feel secretly self-conscious about his behavior but has no opportunity to confess his sin or ask for forgiveness. Without being encouraged to apologize to his parents, his sins are left to fester in his heart.
His heart then becomes full of negativity, especially if his whole childhood is characterized by a lack of discipline. He may even carry this feeling into his adult years. Sure, he may understand that the actions he committed as a child are relatively insignificant, but when that negativity stays in his heart for so long, the actions and his feelings toward them can get blown out of proportion.
Be sure to show your child you care about his actions and his heart by disciplining him in love. One day, he will thank you for it.