Have you seen the series of television commercials for an investment firm, with toddlers as the main characters? In the ads, one bright little guy in a high chair extols the virtues of online trading. The ads are humorous and, apparently, effective; one even ran during the Super Bowl. These ads illustrate that one way to leave a memorable impression is to connect an idea, in this case online stock trading, with an image that is both pleasing and absurd. So, while no one truly expects a toddler in a high chair to be discussing the benefits of online trading and 401Ks, a positive association is made with this company. These ads also illustrate an important biblical reality, though probably […]
Toddlers are people. They make decisions about what they think they need. The Tripps’ observation that children interpret everything that happens to them provides powerful insight into the lives of toddlers. And it is their interpretation of their circumstances that determines how they respond to events. If a toddler suddenly perceives that a sibling has his favorite toy, his immediate interpretation might be that something is very wrong in his world. With that interpretation, the toddler may burst out crying or he may decide to retrieve his toy even if he has to fight for it. The response flows from his interpretation of his circumstances. In other words, he is evaluating life on the basis of what he thinks is […]
Stacy, thank you for your comment. You are certainly not alone in asking this question. First, if you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read carefully chapter 15 of Shepherding a Child’s Heart. This chapter explains fundamental biblical truth regarding the use of the rod, including the issue you raise. While spanking is essential, it is only one component of a biblical methodology of parenting. Spanking must be practiced in the context of you and your husband daily praying for God’s blessing on your children, and praying for God’s help to be faithful in both preventative and remedial discipline. Also, Deuteronomy 6 makes it clear that God is to be a part of the conversation of everyday life in your family. Talk about the issues you expect to face each day. Pray with your children in advance about areas where their behavior indicates struggles of the heart.
In addition to reading chapter 15 of Shepherding a Child’s Heart, you might want to look also at Chapters 2 and 4 of Everyday Talk. Those two chapters form the background for the post on which you commented. Pleasant words and discipline are an essential combination.
More specifically, let me draw your attention to a comment in chapter 15. On page 144, after noting an up-and-down behavior cycle in his children, Tedd makes the observation: “One day it dawned on us! We produced the cycles.” Your child is not living in a vacuum. His responses are connected to your responses. While he is accountable before God for his sins, it is also true that his world is dominated by his parents. What makes this negative for children on occasion is that parents often live in survival mode—they survive one incident of difficult behavior and just wait and hope that they can survive the next one. Sound familiar??? This kind of relational climate in the home does not lend itself to productive biblical discipline. It is not the setting that Deuteronomy 6 envisions.
The glory and honor of God must be at the center of your home, and you must have a vital experience of relying on God’s help in both good time and difficult times. You recognized this when you were “crying out to the Lord for wisdom.” But it is just as important to take delight in God’s presence when a meal goes well, for example, as when there is disobedience. The Scriptures are designed to give you confidence and joy as you follow God’s ways of living (including discipline). If you are discouraged, down, overwhelmed, or uncertain when you begin the discipline process, particularly when spanking is required, don’t expect good results. The practice of biblical discipline is a blessing and privilege. It weeds out rebellion and discontent, and cultivates the peaceful fruit of righteousness. It is not something to dread. Proverbs 22:15 is a wonderful verse to memorize with your children in this light.
Toddlers have a great capacity to intimidate parents. Soon a parent hesitates to speak a word of correction because she fears it will lead to discipline that does not appear to accomplish anything. All too often, the result from this scenario is an angry, defiant, weepy child and a distraught, bewildered parent who is balancing on a thin line of discouragement and anger. Good times? Not for anyone! So when the precious toddler challenges your authority the next time, you think twice before going down the black hole of discipline again. Parents, this is not what God intends! You must be persuaded that what you are doing is what God wants. If it seems not to be working, don’t doubt God’s methods. Consider whether you are applying God’s principles effectively, and if you are, be patient and persevere. Your spirit must be one of loving confrontation born out of love for God and your child.
Stacey, let me know your response. Thanks for bringing this up. May God use this interchange to help many parents faced with this same situation.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1 It seems that there is actually one more post in this series of communicating the Gospel to your children. Heather, one of our readers, raised an important question about the last post. Here is her comment: You mention that "Heather has been given only one option." Is it ever appropriate to offer a choice? For instance, "Honey, you can either give the train to your brother and find another toy, or you can play with the train with him." Or should these options be explained at a point when there is “not” a squabble going on (i.e. "here are some ways you can share and act kindly […]
For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Proverbs 2:10 The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction. Proverbs 16:21 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise— that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth. Ephesians 6:1-3 This is the final post in this series about pleasant words and communicating the Gospel. I am also responding to comments left by Shannon and Ann. Thank you both for sending them. In the last post I focused on the futility of attempting to reason with […]
20 My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 21 Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. 22 When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. 23 For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life, 24 keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife. Proverbs 6:20-24 The last post focused on the danger […]
When I was a boy in my father’s house, still tender, and an only child of my mother, he taught me and said, "Lay hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Proverbs 4:3-6 The past three blogs have looked at the issue of worldview and young children. In chapter 4 of Proverbs, Solomon gives a compelling worldview—the ultimate reality check. Two powerful directives frame his worldview. The first directive, in verse 4, says, “…with all of your […]
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. Eph. 4:17 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. Proverbs 4:19 Another consequence of children’s natural worldview is futile thinking. Often parents say things like, why can’t children just do what the Bible says, can’t they see it is for their own good? The answer is – no they can’t see that. Ephesians describes the thinking of those who don’t know God as futile. This fits closely with the description of the wicked in Proverbs 4:19. Those without […]
Doing what comes naturally 17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. Eph. 4:17-19 This passage is seldom applied to child-training and to toddlers. However, there is much to learn from Paul’s words regarding training children. This passage illustrates what happens when children are not brought […]
Toddlers and worldview are not concepts that appear to be compatible at first glance. The image of a 3–year-old sitting down at a computer to type a paper on worldview evokes humor, not reality. However, a toddler does have a worldview. It may be limited, but it is a worldview nonetheless. This worldview is expressed in statements like – I’m thirsty, he took my toy, I want a cookie, I’m tired, I’m hungry, I don’t want to. Do you see a pattern here? A toddler’s worldview tends to begin and end with him. This is not surprising given that we all start life gratifying the cravings of our flesh (Eph. 2:3). Left unchecked this limited, self-centered worldview will produce a […]