Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Too Much Talking in Discipline

on May 24, 2014


Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

I’ve always found it important to explain to my daughter why she is receiving a negative consequence for her bad behavior. What’s the point of disciplining her if she doesn’t realize why she is being punished and how this re-direction is going to benefit her? I want her to know what God’s Word says and how we are to walk in the world. I want her to someday be a shining example of a Godly young woman, who is respectful, kind and courageous. I guess I’m old-fashioned in the sense that I want her to learn to respect her elders and to season her words with honor.

Still, I recently studied this discipline technique where the instructor reminded me that sometimes explaining everything to a young child is ineffective and just frustrates the child. In other words, if the issue is pretty black and white, over-explaining it or trying to lecture a young child about what he or she has done wrong ends up creating more conflict and less learning. In this training session he gives examples of how one simple explanation is sufficient. If a child continues to try to debate the issue, it becomes unfruitful to go back and forth with him/her to try and get your point across. Simply enact the disciplinary measure and leave it there.

I found this to be interesting and true. Especially for young children, too much talking, or talking to them like they are little adults, can end up sounding more like a parent and a kid debating than a parent usurping authority in the situation. I see it in my own home. Say, for example, my daughter does not want to eat her dinner but wants an ice cream instead. I tell her that she cannot have dessert unless she eats her dinner. She starts throwing a fit because she doesn’t like my answer. Instead of simply disciplining the behavior, I continue to try and explain to her why eating ice cream instead of dinner is a bad choice, how I’m trying to look out for her health, why she needs to honor and obey me, etc. Meanwhile, my daughter’s hearing nothing because she’s in a full-blown hissy fit, whining, crying and throwing herself on the couch. See what I mean?

If the child knows what he or she is doing is wrong, they may not need any explanation, or a short one will suffice. Obviously there are a variety of circumstances in which a more thorough explanation is in order, but usually a quick, straightforward response is all that’s needed to answer a request and correct a misbehavior.

Now there’s one more part to this that wasn’t in the video I watched (it was a secular training course), but that to me makes a huge difference. We don’t need long explanations during a time of discipline because hopefully we are instructing our children before they get into trouble what is expected of them. In other words, teaching our children what the Word of God says about how we are to conduct ourselves, what our household rules are and what we expect of them is much easier and pleasant when we do it before everyone is frustrated. It should be done when everyone is happy and getting along. Then, when problems arise there is already a foundation there for most issues.

I’m finding this information to be useful in disciplining my four year-old. I hope it can be useful to you as well. May our children grow up to be God-loving and God-serving young men and women! 🙂 That’s my prayer.

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