Quite often we think of a disciplined child is a kid that does what they’re supposed to do instantly. Instant obedience is really only one example of good discipline by an outside force applied to a child by their mom and dad, teacher, or later as they’ve grown, by a work supervisor, or an officer of the law. But is that really discipline in the truest sense?
One stormy day Miss Brown couldn’t get to school on time and her class had to wait on her to get there. The kids put away their coats, took their seats, folded their hands, and when a quick substitute was found, she came into the classroom to find the kids gazing at the chalk board in near total silence. “Now that’s discipline!” Miss Brown said, while talking about the instance to her colleagues. “Make them too scared to do anything except what they’re told. That’s the secret”. But, is that really the secret? It wasn’t actually real discipline. Discipline is real only when the control is exercised by the person concerned. Real discipline is literally a personal matter, an ordering of the individual’s actions by that individual themselves.
The commonly accepted forms of discipline are exterior things. They’re sets of “Thou shalt not’s, because if you do, I’ll do something else to you“. The one disciplined has surrendered their will to another. There’s no thinking, no willing. They act on the thoughts and will of their master just like a trained puppy. If they don’t have a command, they better not do anything. Now that’s just weak, fearful, and being totally dependent on another. Real discipline is self growth. It’s the dynamic of doing by self will. It’s started and ended by the person concerned. The planning, the judging, the deciding, the doing are theirs.
If and when you find that you have to say to a child; “Don’t do that”, it’s time to stop and consider what sort of discipline you’re trying to establish. Be careful! Whenever you find yourself saying, “Don’t make any noise, Don’t waste time, Don’t answer back, Don’t lie to me, Don’t mess with your sisters stuff, Don’t play with the kid next door.” You’re really more likely to be wrong than right. “Don’t” is a rotten substitute for “Do”. Kids never really get anywhere on “Dont’s”, now do they?
In no way am I saying that you shouldn’t take the necessary steps to correct your child. The Bible says: Bring up a child in the way they should go, so when they are old, they won’t depart from it”. The arm of correction is needed for most kids from time to time. Yes, I agree with a “pow pow” on the sit down place when it’s needed.
But whenever you find yourself saying “Fine. Go ahead. Do some more. That’s good,” you can feel sure that, for that instance at least, you and your child are going in the right direction. Doing things encourages a child to clarify their ideas, leads them to organize themselves, and to test the value of their thinking. Then, and only then, are they disciplining themselves for the complications of life. Encourage self discipline. The self disciplined child becomes the self disciplined adult.