ll too often, discipline and punishment are considered synonymous. They are not. By behaviorist definition: Discipline is any attempt by an authority figure to control or change the behavior of someone else who is not in an authoritative position. Punishment is an environmental event which follows a behavior that decreases the future probability of that behavior.
In other words, punishment teaches children to resent as it is usually an attack on their self-worth. Threats, physical correction, yelling and put-downs are examples of punishment. Discipline, on the other hand, is a learning process. The goals of discipline are to teach self-government and learn tools to promote effective problem solving. This results in children learning to make choices and accept responsibility for those choices. The key component is to establish mutual respect and to let the child know cooperation is expected.
Young children learn by experimenting, testing limits and experiencing the consequences of their behavior. Through the process of setting and enforcing limits, parents assist the child in developing self-control and respect for the rights and property of others. Children need to learn the rules and adults need to balance the need for individual rights and self-expression with the needs of the family. Rules and limits in the home are likely to differ from those in a preschool setting because of the need to protect the rights and safety of other children.
Parents typically want to promote a positive approach to managing the behavior of their children. Parents typically want to their children process feelings, make good choices, recognize consequences, explore alternative solutions and outcomes, and develop internal self‑control. As such, discipline measures provide parents with a profound opportunity to reflect the character of Christ by:
· Encouraging confidence and strengthen a sense of honor (White, 1903/2002, Ed., p. 289, ¶3)
· Blending authority and affection (White, 1952/1980, AH, p. 198, ¶1)
· Acting from firm rules, never from impulse or passion (White, 1952/2002, AH, p. 198, ¶1)
· Erring on the side of mercy (White, 1903/2002, Ed., p. 293, ¶2)
· Dedicating time and attention to individual children (White, 1990, 7 MR, p. 11, ¶1 & 2)
· Avoiding coldness or harshness, faultfinding or censure (White, 1903/2002, Ed., p. 291, 4)
· Not indulging self-indulgence or petting praise (White, 1954/2002, CG, p. 37, ¶1 and p. 178, ¶1 & 2)
· Not excusing or tolerating tantrums (White, 1990, 7 MR, p. 11, ¶3)
· Being just and reasonable (White, 1903/2002, Ed., p. 287, ¶2)
· Protecting children from harm (White, 1954/2002, CG, p. 460, ¶2; p. 272, ¶3)
· Lovingly denying children those things that are harmful or would cause injury (White, 1948, 4T, p. 140, ¶3; p. 141, ¶1)
· Asking for God’s blessing on the seeds sown in each child’s heart (White, 1954/2002, CG, p. 204).
The goal, of course, is to raise godly children who are independent “thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men’s thought” (White, 1990, 7 MR, p. 12, ¶2; White, 1903/2002, Ed., p. 17, ¶3); children who are “strong to think and to act;” “masters and not slaves of circumstances;” “who possess breadth of mind, clearness of thought, and the courage of their convictions” (White, 1903/2002, Ed., p. 18, ¶1).
The training of the children of Israel upon their deliverance from slavery in Egypt outlines the recipe for true education. In abbreviated form, their education consisted of labor, study and meditation (White, 1903/2002, Ed., p. 34, ¶1). They were given the oracles of God in order to study His character (Ed., p. 34, ¶3; p. 35, ¶1 & 4) and learn obedience (Ed., p. 36, ¶1). Through the Divinely appointed economy, they were to learn the value of united labor, service (Ed., p. 37, ¶3 & 4) and worship (Ed., p. 38, ¶4). Daily activities and habits of health all centered on their willing followership and discipline (Ed., p. 38, ¶1 & 2; p. 37, ¶5). The organized manner in which they lived, traveled and worshiped infiltrated every aspect of their lives (Ed., p. 39, ¶3). Through songs and routines they affixed lessons within their minds and those of their children (Ed., p. 39, ¶2).
The Bible provides many examples of children who were faithfully trained for God: Able, Seth, Methuselah, Enoch, Noah, Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Joshua, Joseph, Daniel and his three friends, Samuel, Mary, the mother of Jesus, John the Baptist, Jesus, Timothy – and the list goes on. The Bible also provides examples of children who were indulged and lacked discipline: Esau, Sampson, the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas – among others.
“If, in their early childhood, children are perseveringly and patiently trained in the right way, they will not form wrong habits” (White, 1954/2002, CG, p. 200, ¶4). “The parents or teachers who give no attention to the small actions that are not right establish those habits in the youth” (White, 1954/2002, CG, p. 201, ¶3); habits that will be carried with them throughout life (White, 1954/2002, CG, p. 200, ¶4 ).
Holy Bible, The. (1996). Iowa Falls, Iowa: World Bible Publishers.
White, E. G. (1903/2002). Education [Ed]. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association. http://www.ellenwhite.com/
White, E. G. (1948). In Ellen G. White Publications (Vol. Ed.), Testimonies for the church [4T] (Vol. 4). Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association. http://www.ellenwhite.com/
White, E.G. (1952). Adventist Home. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association. http://www.ellenwhite.com/
White, E. G. (1954). Child Guidance. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association. http://www.ellenwhite.com/
White, E. G. (1990). In Ellen G. White Publications (Vol. Ed.), Manuscript Releases [7MR] (Vol. 7). Silver Spring, MD: Ellen G. White Estate. http://www.ellenwhite.com/
Love, Learning, and Routines
Tips on Temperament
Teaching your Child Discipline and Self Control
Helping Young Children Channel their Aggressive Tendencies
Toddlers and Challenging Behavior: Why They Do It & How to Respond
Supporting Your Child’s Cooperation
How do infants and toddlers cooperate? This two-page handout describes how children’s ability to cooperate grows over the first three years of life. It also offers strategies to help you help your child develop his cooperation skills.