BEST APPROACH TO DISCIPLINE II: PREREQUISITES FOR DISCIPLINE #1

Intro:
I hereby present the second segment of our teaching series on discipline. In the first segment, we looked at the right motivation for discipline and said it should be the best interests of the subordinate and not the hunger of the authority figure for personal vengeance or social approval. You can read that first segment here.

In this instalment, we look at some things that should be in place for discipline to be effective.


PREREQUISITES FOR DISCIPLINE #1

1. Teaching of what’s right and what’s wrong: It’s unfair to punish people for doing things they don’t realize are wrong. It is easy to assume someone knows that something is wrong when they do not. The Bible is the best guide in this respect. We should introduce our children and wards to the word of God and when they are old enough to read, we should encourage them to read it on their own daily with the aid of a devotional guide.

We should also expose them to Bible studies conducted with study manuals appropriate to their age at home and in church. Such lessons should be interactive enough to help us gauge their rate of learning. But intellectual knowledge isn’t enough. We should help them to build what they learn into their daily lives.

The Bible shows us how helpful this can be in moulding the reader’s conduct in Psalm 119: 9.

“How can a young (person) man stay pure? By reading your word and following its rules.” (The Living Bible) – Word in brackets added by me.

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Other applicable rules should also be made known e.g. cultural requirements. In some parts of Africa, people are sometimes blamed for not greeting elders at all or greeting them in a certain way when they are not familiar with the traditions in question.

2. Providing an atmosphere that encourages good attitudes and behaviours: If you teach your wards that immorality is wrong, for instance, but expose them to indecent media content and unsupervised private social interaction with people they could hook up with, you may soon be in the embarrassing position of scrambling futile disciplinary measures after the fact. I found very sound counsel on this from the late American businessman and religious leader, Joseph B. Wirthlin:

“In a day when broadcasters and publishers have rather free access into our homes, we must seek clean, uplifting entertainment, whether on television, videos, movies,
magazines, books, and other printed material. We should be very selective and choose only those things that meet the test of being virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy.”


We should watch family-oriented programmes with our young ones offering guidance on things they may miscontrue or imitate to their own detriment. For example, many contemporary TV shows give the impression that sexual activity among teenagers is alright as long as they use some kind of protection. Even where it’s not blatantly done, there are gestures and insinuations that ridicule sexual purity before marriage to the extent that a young person who has not joined the bandwagon feels that he or she must be the last virgin on earth.

Sometimes, to stop their peers from tagging them weird, they snatch the slightest opportunity they get to chuck something they see as a huge source of embarrassment. Our constant affirmation of the rightness of sexual purity through the shows we expose them to and the discussions arising therefrom can help prevent this.

We should also regulate their online interactions, especially via the social media, and help them find wholesome stuff in cyberspace.

3. Delineating rewards for exceptionally good behaviour and sanctions for bad behaviour: Let those under you know what the consequences of their actions will be ahead of time. And the sanctions should be appropriate to the age of the offender and the severity of the offence.

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For example, before the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, God warned them not to indulge in idolatry and its associated abominations like child sacrifice and ritual prostitution. He said they would be uprooted from the land if they did, just like the old inhabitants of the land were. He also enumerated blessings they will enjoy if they obey His commands (Deutronomy 12:30-31, 4:25-27 and chapter 14). They failed to heed Him and they were sent into exile. So whenever intercession was made for them, it was acknowledged that God had forewarned them. (See chapter 9 of the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel.)

Punishment that is seen to be arbitrary and unduely harsh will only breed rebellion. It also casts you in the image of the capricious gods of the heathen and not in the image of our just God aptly described in Deutronomy 32:4.

“He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!” (New Living Translation)

Besides, brutalising your subordinates could turn them into monsters and in time they may victimise you.

I hope you’ve found these few ideas helpful. I will share more thoughts on how to set the proper stage for effective discipline in the next post in the series. God bless you richly in Jesus’ name.

#3 of this teaching will be posted very soon. Praise the Lord!

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I am a university lecturer. I teach Mass Communication, mostly writing courses like Feature and Interpretative Writing, Magazine Article Writing and News Writing, and let’s just say I’ve been doing this for a long time. As you have probably guessed, I am a born-again Christian.
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10 thoughts on “BEST APPROACH TO DISCIPLINE II: PREREQUISITES FOR DISCIPLINE #1

  1. Really well said! It’s so true. With media having such easy access it does dictate so much of our attitude. I love the idea of consistent and fair discipline. Very good read. Blessings! ??

  2. I especially like number 3 because I think people tend to do what they are supposed to if there is a reward you know. Punishment for disobedience is hardly enough. There should be rewards for obedience too. Great post ma’am. I’m eager to read the next.

  3. These ideas were indeed helpful. The right atmosphere for discipline and the right punishment (depending on the severity of the act) are vital principles I’ve learnt. Thank you for sharing with us

  4. Yes, I agree that teaching children the right things forms the basis for inculcating discipline in children. Children should be told from the start what is right and what is not right as children are still young to know the right and wrong things totally. This point really captured me, thanks ma.

  5. Train a child in the way he should grow, and when he grows he will not depart from it. training a child in the way of the lord and creating a good atmosphere for that child is a good way to train a child.

  6. “Punishment that is seen to be arbitrary and unduly harsh will only breed rebellion.” – This statement struck me most in the last point. That is how rebels are bred. I have a cousin who is very stubborn and rebellious to both parents and everybody alike. With this post, it is very clear his parents defied every rule here especially the third point. He was brutally dealt with as a boy, but that only turned him into rebellion. Thank you Ma for this enlightenment.

  7. We should inculcate what’s good and creates enabling environment or atmosphere to learn what’s right in the sight of God. It is good to train the younger generation with the word so that as they grow older, they will not depart from it.
    Third point totally depicts the behavioyr of my mum, whenever I do something right I get a reward from it and when I do something bad the discipline to it comes as well. It is a good training which will make the ward to have a good behaviour that will be beneficial to you as a parent when the time comes.

  8. We should endeavour to tell others of what is right and what is wrong. In that way,we are teaching people discipline. We should also do what we preach because no one would learn from us if we don’t show good examples for them to follow. Discipline is the key.

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