Instruction and correction can easily be misunderstood. This is particularly the case when parental authority is being exercised. When correcting your children you can give them the impression that you are delighting in their failure, or that you are fixated on their shortcomings. Since disciplined training in righteousness must be thorough and ongoing, a child may think that your only purpose is to delight in telling him how wrong he is.
This is where you have to look at your child’s world through his eyes. It is huge that in the process of correction, that your words follow the direction of the Spirit and be pleasant ( Proverbs 16:20-24) and gentle (Proverbs 15:1). Anger and irritation reinforce the idea that you are taking delight in correction. While this may be the last thing on your mind, your child may see things differently. You don’t have the option to not discipline, but you do have the option to discipline with love and joy in God’s truth.
If your claim to your children is that you discipline them because you love them, then you have a moral obligation to God and to your children to truly discipline in love. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not easily angered. Love does not delight in correction and consequences. Love is not communicated by harsh words or exasperated frustration.
Parent, your words are to build up, to encourage, to speak deeply into the hearts of your children. Only the faithful application of all that the Holy Spirit says is love will allow your words to speak the truth of the gospel. Failing to love as God calls you to will only succeed in provoking your children to anger.
Love your children enough to see your discipline through their eyes. Listen carefully to how they respond to your discipline and correction. Does your discipline draw your children closer to you and to God or does it drive them away?
For example, instead of saying words like these:
“When will you learn obey right away? You always seem to do what you want instead of what mommy says. That is not pleasing to God! I’m going to keep correcting you until you obey quickly.”
Try an approach like this:
“Hey, Eric. I know it is hard to obey. Do you kind of feel like mommy is just upset with you all the time? Yeah, I thought so. Let’s ask God to help mommy be patient and for you to be able to obey quickly.”
There is more that needs to said, of course, but this is one way to engage in discipline patiently with pleasant words.
Love your children in all the ways the Holy Spirit commands.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13:4-7