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Love and parenting: Discipline with love

Too often we forget that discipline means to teach, not to punish. A disciple is a student, not a recipient of behavioral consequences.  -Daniel J. Seigel

What is the purpose of discipline? I believe most of society understands the benefits of discipline. It is safe to say that we have all experienced that unruly kid in a restaurant, or the bully child on the playground or the mouthy teenager who makes navigating the classroom difficult. There are obvious societal benefits to well behaved children. 

Still, that begs the question, “What is the purpose of discipline?” If discipline is solely to make the child more amicable and the adults’ life easier, then why have children?  Seriously...what’s the point? Raising children can be one of the most challenging, all encompassing, sacrificial jobs on planet earth. If discipline is to keep children out of our hair, why bother?

I believe that the family is the proving ground for the rest of a child’s life, that children will always remember the way a parent made them feel, that discipline with love gives them a sense of peace and stability, teaches that it’s ok to make mistakes and important to learn from their mistakes, that they need an understanding that discipline is about helping them to become the best version of themselves and that it is to gradually teach them to develop a character that doesn’t need to be subject to societal rules to live with integrity. 

Discipline is as vital for a child as healthy food, sunshine, exercise, cognitive development and love. Children need discipline to help them navigate life’s challenges as they become adults. Children who are not disciplined are typically unhappy, angry and resentful. Why?  Because they are looking to the most important people in their life to show them how to live. Children have a built-in expectation for their parents to love, teach and protect them. 

I have never forgotten my friend from high school who was one of the most respectful, nice kids to me and told me that he was horrible at home. When I asked him why he behaved the way he did if he knew it was wrong, he said, “Because my dad won’t pay attention to me, and I need him. Bad attention is still attention.” My teenage friend was starving not only for his father’s attention, but his “intention.” 

Our children need us, and they need to be taught by us with intention. When we discipline with love, we are sending a message to them that they are worth the time and effort to “raise them up in the way they should go.” 

In closing, here are some final thoughts on learning to discipline with love. 

1.     If everything is a big deal, then nothing is a big deal.

2.     Practice saying things you do not have to apologize for.

3.     Being overly critical strengthens the roots of poor behavior.

4.     Being overly lenient teaches entitlement.

5.     Speak life to your children all day every day.

6.     Play with them so that you have the relationship foundation to teach them on.

7.     Teach them that mistakes are often how we learn and give them grace to learn. 

If you have been enjoying my articles, please visit and click The Love Journey tab to order your copy of my new book and sign up for my inspirational emails. I keep emails fresh and different from my weekly Globe articles.

“Love is a journey not a destination.”


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