How we discipline our children often shapes their beliefs about themselves, the world, and God. According to Jim and Lynne Jackson, we need to pay attention to the underlying messages we are sending our children as we discipline them.

“We invite parents to wonder about this question: If when you disciplined your children they came away believing the messages about who they are that you want them to believe, that are tied to God’s Word, what would those messages be?”

We reflect on four Christ-centered messages to keep in mind as we reach out to our child’s heart through discipline.

I am for you.

Jim shares advice on how to verbally remind our kids that we are on their side.

‘Child, when I discipline you, really always but especially when I discipline you, I want you to know and remember you’re safe with me. I’m for you, not against you.’

You’re loved no matter what.

Jim refers to these first two messages as the messages of grace. He speaks to the importance of winning our kids hearts, not just shaping their behaviors.

“We think of discipline as the thing we do to keep our kids accountable, and yes it is, but if we miss the messages of grace then that tends to lead to more of a performance-based message and builds resentments. It’s just behavioral and it’s not going after the heart.”

You are called and capable.

Lynne expands on the importance of seeking out your child’s strengths to guide them in the right direction.

“This is where parents can find and build strengths in their kids, even in their behavior. The way that they misbehave, somehow they’re tapping into their strengths to do it. We can identify that and turn it in good directions, as well as soften kids hearts to our real discipline as we just acknowledge that there’s some strength under this misbehavior.”

You are responsible for your actions and ultimately for your life.

“We like to teach parents effective discipline puts responsibility on the child to right their wrongs, not so much the parents to manage their behavior. It puts responsibility on the child to right their wrongs.”

By sending these messages to our children, we can help them understand what they did wrong and motivate them to do right the next time around.

Jim and Lynne Jackson have conducted over 1,300 workshops for parents and privately coached more than 1,000 parents since the early 1990s. In 2002, they began Connected Families which exists to bring uncommon grace and truth to those parents longing for more than simple answers and quick fixes.

Discipline from the heart
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