Discipline According to Proverbs 22:6
I was reading a parenting book recently about discipline for children under the age of one. That’s right, discipline for babies! At first glance, I thought the book was describing punishment because many of us tend to lump discipline and punishment together as having the same meaning. As I continued reading, I quickly realized by definition of discipline was far different.
The words discipline and disciple have the same root word. It means to learn or one who learns. The disciples followed Jesus because they were trying to learn how to live a life free from sin and follow his teachings. Discipline, when applied to our children, is not punishing them for their mistakes, but teaching them how to behave according to our values and rules.
The book I referenced was explaining to parents that a seven month old baby can understand his parents’ use of words like please and thank you. He also learns dinner time behavior at an early age when parents show him which foods are finger foods and which foods need spoons. The book clearly tells parents to begin as you mean to go. If a behavior is important, teach it early.
As I thought about my own parenting, I remembered telling a friend that we worked really hard with both of our children to get them on good sleep schedules as early as one week old. My husband and I made a feeding/napping schedule for our kids and agreed to stick to it. It didn’t matter if visitors dropped by after the baby’s bedtime, we were NOT messing up the routine. We started early so we would have good sleepers by the time both parents were back at work.
The Bible tells us the same thing in Proverbs 22:6. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” As parents, we have to think about what is important. Do we want our children to begin sports early, daily devotions, perhaps playing the piano? Do we want our children to care for their siblings or learn to make their beds properly? I understand that we must allow our children to develop at their own pace. Some tasks are not developmentally appropriate at a young age. However, we must set our rules and teach morals and values early.
God has given us these children to raise in a way that is pleasing to Him. What training does your child need today?
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