One of the things that is increasingly evident to me as I look back on the discipline that my parents exercised and instilled into mine and my two brother’s lives is how tailored it was to our specific personalities. One was normally disciplined with spankings (or ‘whuppings’ if Dad had to come home early to administer corporal punishment). Another was grounded. Still another was told how disappointed my parents were in him when he disobeyed or flat out messed up.
At the time I thought that was entirely unfair. Why did I get all the paddlings, but my brother was only scolded and sent to his room for the rest of the afternoon? Why were my keys taken away or made to spend the weekend sitting at home all alone, but my other brother was only made to do some chore or write off a couple of hundred times that he would never again do whatever it was that he’d done?
I used to think that this wasn’t fair or right, but now that I have two children of my own (and one more on the way) I understand the godly, parental wisdom that was being exercised.
Proverbs 22:6 says that as parents we are to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when his old he will not depart from it.”
The meaning of the phrase, “…in the way he should go…” literally means, “according to his bent.” In other words, every individual is different by the Creator’s design from every other individual. We have different temperaments and personalities. We have different likes and dislikes. There are things that affect us and things that don’t.
That was the wisdom in my parent’s plan of discipline. My parents quickly learned which things spoke to our heart and affected us and devised a course of discipline according to each child’s particular bent or nature. So, I got paddled, Craig got scolded and Paul was grounded. Each disciplinary measure accomplished the same result even though the action was different.
While this post has dealt mainly with discipline so far, I want to share some very practical ways for you to custom tailor your parenting. I believe that these tips will help you be a better parent and in turn help your child to be a better person.
First, spend time just hanging out with your children. You will quickly learn their unique, God-given personalities. Who loves to run and jump and be active and who would rather sit and watch. You will see who has a wild imagination and would rather be by themselves and who loves to share and spend time with others.
Also, watch how your children respond when stress comes into their lives. Does he get upset and lash out? Does she just get quiet? What makes them laugh? What about when somebody picks on or teases them? Is he a bully or a pushover?
Discover their talents. I’ve always thought that most parents don’t expose their children to a wide-variety of options and as a result may limit or never discover a talent that was hidden in their life. Try all sorts of things – playing the piano or guitar, painting or karate, soccer or acting. Give them many opportunities to try many different things and see who is the athlete and who is the creative.
Learn your child’s natural speed and ability to learn and perform. We all learn at different speeds. My wife Kim can pick things up in an instant. I have to work harder at some things. Kim reads very fast, while I read much more slowly. I on the other hand have never met a stranger, don’t get shy on a stage and love speaking in public. Kim can have four projects going at the same time, alternating back and forth between them. I have to finish one project before I move on and begin another. Kim can be late sometimes. I’m always early.
What peaks your child’s interest? Do they love bugs? Then buy an ant farm. Do they love looking at the stars? Then put posters and pictures of stars in their room. Help cultivate the dreams and interests of your child’s heart.
I hope that this little post will help you discover, develop and discipline your child so that they can become the man or woman God created them to be.