“The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” – Proverbs 29:15 (KJV)
Some folks would have us feel guilty for correcting children. Actually, those who do not correct children should be the ones to feel guilty. It is so sad to see children “at loose ends” not knowing what is right and what is wrong. They are so confused! How can they ever feel good knowing they have done the right thing if they don’t know what the right thing is? Children need clear and fair boundaries. They need easy to understand instructions defining acceptable behavior. They need parents who closely supervise to make sure children stay within those boundaries.
We are all born sinners with a desire to do those things that give us instant gratification. Undisciplined children, then, will naturally tend to do those things that they like regardless of the feelings of others. Parents who wait until a child does something wrong to give correction, without having defined that the action is wrong, are not being fair to the child. Family devotions, Life Support groups at church, and constant guidance are necessary to help children understand expectations of behavior. Once a child understands those expectations and deliberately disobeys, then discipline is necessary. Yes, there are appropriate times when many children need a spanking. The trouble with many spankings is that some parents think a spanking is a “cure all” for all unacceptable behavior. It isn’t. The discipline should be tailored to help the child understand the “why” of a wrong. Spankings should be reserved for deliberate rebellious actions when nothing else will work.
It is confusing to children to receive praise for inferior work. When this happens, they think what they did is acceptable and no improvement is needed. It takes away the incentive to try to do better. It is much better to praise a child only if it is truly earned. If a child has tried hard and still hasn’t achieved satisfactory work, praise could be given for the effort put forth. We are misleading children to give praise when the product is not acceptable. Parents would do well to break down a project into parts and praise only the parts deserving of praise. Honesty is always the best policy. There are ways to be honest in a loving way. Parents and teachers would do well to develop that ability.
We are doing our children no favors by letting them get by with wrongdoing. Sooner or later, they will have to face up to their behavior both to men and to God. Setting appropriate boundaries and seeing that children stay within those boundaries is possibly the best thing that can be done by those working with children. A teacher colleague of mine used to say quite often, “Virtue is its own reward”. There is no greater satisfaction one can have than knowing s/he has done the right thing. The feeling gives a sense of security!