Lack of Child Discipline

Written by:  Jerry Nix | Freewavemaker, LLC                     July 9, 2023

As I grow older, at least in America, it seems that our young children are becoming more and more outspoken – and not in a good way. It seems that more and more it is about them with “me, me, me and mine, mine, mine.” Now you may expect that in an infant but not in an adolescent or teenager.

While children of the 21st century have lost all ways of good communication between themselves and adults; they are becoming less and less respective of their elders.

I saw a young boy, he must have been 8 – 10 years old, shopping in a store with his mother a few weeks ago and he was really letting poor old mom know ‘how the cow ate the cabbage’ (to use an old phrase). He wanted something and mom said that he could not get it. He went into a rage right in the middle of the store and called his momma every name in the book and then pushed her (and she almost fell).

She began to plead with him, “Oh Ronny, please don’t act this way.” Her begging him did no good. She tried to calm him down … but he did not calm down until … she put the item he wanted into the basket on his demands.

I walked away and shook my head thinking, “Boy this would not be happening 50 or 60 years ago!” Back then when a parent said, “No” to a child it did not mean, “I don’t Know,” but rather N-O! Things have changed so much when it comes to Discipline of Children.

Why do parents not discipline children today as they did years ago?

First there is changing attitudes about discipline. In the past corporal punishment (Spankings) was more widely accepted as a form of discipline. However, in recent years there has been a growing body of research that suggests that corporal punishment can be harmful to children. As a result, many parents are choosing to use other forms of discipline, such as time outs and removal of privileges, if they choose to discipline at all. Sometimes these work and sometimes they don’t.

Unfortunately, I believe, that many of the people in these so-called research groups never raised a child. At least not the majority of them. And I don’t believe any that raised a child did so 50 or 60 years ago. I do agree that “corporal punishment” can be harmful to children if done in anger or with hate in the heart of the parent … but if done properly it can be very good for the child.

In the adult world of law, we always hear, “Let the punishment fit the crime.” Why don’t we hear that in the children’s world? Not all children will react to different forms of punishment or discipline like time-outs, grounding and removal of other privileges. I know this for a fact.

My wife and I raised four children … 2 girls and 2 boys. Each of these kids have grown up to make us proud with very strong work-ethics and being very successful in their chosen occupations. However, each of them had a unique form of discipline that worked better on them than on others.

When they were young two of my four kids responded better to spankings than other forms of discipline. Later one of these two grew to respond more to groundings and not being able to be with her friends when she wanted to be. One, of our four children, responded to a stern talking too and seeing our signs of disappointment, while another responded only when I took her books and computer away … She became the PhD in the family. Since they were all good with imagination – none of them ever responded to “Time Outs” since they were all good at making up games to play by themselves while in time-out.

Second, many parents feel there is less time for parenting today than there was in the past. Some feel today’s parents are often more stressed and overworked than parents of the past. They seem to have less time to devote to parenting, and so, they are less likely to enforce discipline if they are feeling overwhelmed. Oh, Poor Pitiful Parents!

I grew up in an age where both my parents worked and they never were too busy to discipline my brother, sister and me when we needed to be disciplined. They chose to take on the responsibility of being a parent so the parented. They did not look at being a parent as a friendship between parent and child. Yes, we go spankings when other forms of discipline would do no good.

In my own life when my kids were young, and especially into the later adolescents and teen-age years my work kept me away from home for days at a time. My wife worked a full-time job and cleaned houses on the side for other people … but we never gave up parenting, we felt to do so would be more abusive to the child. We took on the responsibility of being a parent so we parented. We did not try to be “friends” with our kids … that was not our job as a parent. Yes, we could love them without being their best friend in the world.

Third, we now have the rise of what is known as “helicopter parenting.” Some parents are so focused on “protecting their children from harm” that they are reluctant to discipline in any form for fear of “upsetting” the children. I call this being your child’s friend and not your child’s parent. This type of parenting can lead to children who are not prepared to handling challenges and setbacks that life is truly going to throw their way.

My kids, who are in their late 30’s, 40’s and 50’s have been able to handle all of life challenges thrown at them without the help of narcotics, alcohol or any other stimulant. When they feel “depressed” and get “anxiety” … they simply get to work and do something productive.

Fourth, and certainly not in last place, we have the influence of social media. Social media can make it difficult for parents to set limits on their child’s behavior. Children who are constantly bombarded with images of other children doing what ever they want may be more likely to push the boundaries at home – or their mother in the store while shopping with her.

Social media can be good … but it can also be bad in the wrong hands if those hands are left out of control as to what they view and don’t view.

I think it is very important to note that proper discipline is not about punishment. It is about teaching your children, our children, right from wrong and helping them develop self-control, self-confidence, self-image, and self-esteem. When done effectively, discipline will help children become well-adjusted, successful adults. It will not hurt them in the least bit. When done improperly, or not at all, the undisciplined child grows up to be just another “thug” in American Society.

Before leaving this subject, I want to discuss “Spanking” in a little more detail since I don’t necessarily agree with the research that has been done.

Why is it that research suggest corporal punishment can be harmful to a child?

The research says some of the negative effects of corporal punishment include:

  • Increased aggression and antisocial behavior. Children who are spanked or physically punished are more likely to be aggressive and to exhibit antisocial behavior, such as bullying and fighting. Personally, I think they may be confused with spanking vs. beating a child half to death. I had friends in school that were beaten with fists by their fathers and many of them did turn out wrong. Some of them were bullies in school and a few of them ended up with very long prison sentences while others went to their death early in life from so much loneliness that they committed suicide.
  • Mental health problems. Children who are spanked or physically punished are more likely to experience mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Some perhaps, if they don’t understand the reason for the spanking. However, my little brother was spanked more than I was (he deserved them more than I did) and he never had depression, anxiety or low self-esteem. He grew up to be a God-loving, successful entrepreneur.
  • Cognitive problems. Children who are spanked or physically punished may have difficulty learning and may perform worse in school. I agree those that are physically punished/abused may have difficulty learning and may perform worse in school. But a true spanking is not a real form of abuse.
  • Increased risk of physical abuse. Children who are spanked or physically punished are more likely to be physically abused by their parents or caregivers. And again, this is all up to the person that is giving the punishment or discipline and not up to the one receiving it.

Some in the research groups think it is important to note that corporal punishment does not teach children right from wrong. In fact, it can actually teach children that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems. If you are considering using corporal punishment to discipline your child, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits carefully.

However, all in the research group feel that some form of discipline or punishment is needed in raising children properly. There are many other effective forms of discipline that do not involve physical punishment.

Here are some alternative discipline methods that you can try:

  • Time-outs: This involves removing the child from the situation for a short period of time.
  • Loss of privileges/Grounding: This involves taking away something that the child enjoys, such as playing video games or watching TV.
  • Positive reinforcement: This involves rewarding the child for good behavior, such as with praise or a sticker chart. Many parents provide positive reinforcement when positive reinforcement is uncalled for and these same parents are likely to be the ones that don’t have time for punishment or discipline when it is called for.
  • Natural consequences: This involves allowing the child to experience the natural consequences of their behavior, such as getting dirty if they don’t wash their hands. Or getting their butt whooped by someone they actually started to bully just to find out that kid would not be bullied.

To this, all I can say is try them. If they work … great. But, if they don’t that does not relieve the parent from finding a form of discipline that will work – and that may be “a good ole fashioned spanking” at times.

If you have no alternative but to try SPANKING as a form of discipline you need to remember this …

There is a big difference in spanking in anger and spanking out of love?

Spanking in anger is often done impulsively and without thinking. It is a way for the parent to release their own frustration or anger. This type of spanking can be very harmful to the child, as it can teach them that violence is an acceptable way to solve problems. It can also damage the parent-child relationship.

Spanking out of love, on the other hand, is done with the intention of teaching the child right from wrong. It is a last resort, and it is done calmly and with explanation.

If you are spanking your child out of love, it is important to be clear about why you are doing it and what you are hoping to achieve. You should also be sure to follow up with the child after the spanking to talk about what happened and why it was wrong.

This reminds me of a story of an incident that occurred with two of my children while my wife was pregnant with the third.

The oldest child was about 12 and the younger was about 8. We were on our way to a family pic-nick on a Saturday. We had to stop at the store for a brief moment to get supplies. My kids wanted to stay in the car so I told them they could but that they needed to remain in the back seat and not to get in the front seat to play “driver” of the car.

We were in the store for about 5-10 minutes and when we came out of the store, where were the kids? Exactly where I told them not to be. In the front seat of the car.

I said, “Kids I told you not to get in the front seat of the car and you did. So, here’s a promise. We are going on the pic-nick to have fun … but when we get home you are both going to get a spanking.” They grew kind of quiet. We went on the pic-nick to the lake and had a wonderful time for several hours. Within minutes of getting there they were having fun trying to throw the frisbee and jumping in an out of the water.

When we got back home I had them both come into the living room and sit on the couch next to me. I said, “Earlier today I made you a promise now I must fulfill that promise because dads should never lie or break a promise to his children. What was that promise?”

My oldest said, “That you were gonna whip us when we got home … but why… we’ve been good all the rest of the day?”

My response was, “Because I promised you, I would spank you.” With that they each got three licks across the butt with my belt. Yes, they cried – but I assure you it was more out of “hurt feelings” than “hurt butt.”

After that the kids never got in the front seat of the car when I told them to stay in the back seat again … or at least I never caught them at it. Knowing the younger one at the time the way I do … he still probably leaned over the back of the front seat and pretended to be driving – but at least he was in the back seat. And today, when we go anywhere together, he is the driver.

Yes, children can have different responses to different forms of punishment. Some children may respond well to time-outs, while others may respond better to grounding, or even a spanking every now and then. Some children may even respond better to a combination of different forms of punishment.

But the bottom line is:

Raising children right requires punishment or discipline that is based on the …

  • The child’s age,
  • The child’s temperament,
  • The child’s understanding of why they are being punished, and
  • The consistency to punish when punishment is needed.

According to the research group here are some additional tips for disciplining children:

  • Be consistent. Use the same form of punishment for the same misbehavior every time. I don’t necessarily agree with all this. I do believe you need to be consistent in the punishment – but remember what Einstein said … “Doing the same thing expecting different results is the definition of insanity.” If one form of punishment did not work on the misbehavior you must try another form … but you still must punish the bad behavior.
  • Be fair. Make sure the punishment fits the misbehavior. Kind of the same thing in adult life when we say the “punishment must fit the crime.”
  • Be calm. Don’t punish your child when you are angry. If your angry when you punish the child you will not only hurt the child you will also hurt yourself.
  • Explain why your child is being punished. Help them understand what they did wrong and why it is wrong. If a child does not know what he/she did wrong and why it is wrong they will certainly not understand the punishment.
  • Follow up. After the punishment, talk to your child about what happened and how they can avoid doing it again. This is a must. However, you don’t necessarily have to do this follow up with Hugs and Kisses right away. You don’t want the child to forget the punishment too soon.

With all this being said …

Why is it that some parents are reluctant to discipline their children?

I think there are a few reasons for this and the research finally agrees with me:

Fear of losing their child’s love. Some parents may worry that if they discipline their child, their child will no longer love them. This is a common fear, but it is important to remember that discipline is not about punishing your child or making them feel bad. It is about teaching them right from wrong and helping them develop into responsible adults. If you don’t punish or discipline them you could lose their love later in life.

On the flip side; if you are too strict on you children and make them live a life with no freedom to mess up … they will grow up to resent you, and when they are out of the house and on their own they will be like wild animals until life itself punishes them.

Fear of being seen as a bad parent. In today’s society, there is a lot of pressure on parents to be perfect. Some parents may worry that if they discipline their child, they will be seen as a bad parent. This is a valid concern, but it is important to remember that all parents make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and try to do better next time. Punishing or disciplining a child for bad behavior is not a mistake but many will still accuse you of being a bad parent. Remember, it’s your child … not theirs.

Fear of causing their child emotional harm. Some parents may worry that if they discipline their child too harshly, they will cause their child emotional harm. This is a legitimate concern, but it is important to remember that discipline does not have to be harsh. There are many gentle and effective ways to discipline children.

However, the discipline or punishment still must fit the behavior of the child. Sometimes being to “nice” in your discipline is worse than not having any discipline at all.

Lack of confidence in their parenting skills. Some parents may simply lack confidence in their parenting skills. They may worry that they will not be able to discipline their child effectively or that they will make the situation worse. If you are feeling this way, it is important to seek help from a parenting expert or counselor. They can help you develop effective parenting strategies and build your confidence. It is also important to remember that Parents, like their children, learn and grow confident by doing – not by avoiding necessary action.

Discipline is a necessary part of parenting. It helps children learn right from wrong and develop into responsible adults. If you are reluctant to discipline your child, it is important to talk to someone you trust about your concerns. They can help you develop a discipline plan that is right for your child and your family.

But by all means learn that you are a parent to your child first and foremost. It’s great to be their friend … but parenting comes before the friendship.

We need less little Ronny’s pushing mommy’s around in public. They may grow up and start pushing others around. Teach them right from wrong! Don’t abuse them by not disciplining them when discipline in necessary. And, don’t abuse them because they are simply, being kids and make mistakes from time to time, and punish them out of your own anger.

When you punish them do it with Love for the child and not because of Anger of the parent. But by all means punish when discipline is necessary and praise them when they deserve the praise as well. BE A PARENT AND A FRIEND … BUT PARENT FIRST.

3 thoughts on “Lack of Child Discipline

  1. kimberlydawn

    Thank you Uncle Jerry for an excellent article 🙂
    The 2nd Biggest Regret I have as a parent to a now young adult, is my lack of consistent discipline, and specifically “spanking/switching”…
    (My 1st regret was my refusal to Submit to the Lord in many other areas as well!)
    Sometimes you don’t know, what you don’t know & the rest of the time when you are stubborn & prideful, you just simply cannot hear wisdom & truth from others 🙁

    The only thing I would add to your article is the Lord’s position on the matter…
    “Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in His ways and by fearing Him.” ~Deuteronomy 8:5-6
    “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” ~Proverbs 13:24
    “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.” ~Proverbs 22:15
    “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from hell.” ~Proverbs 23:13-14
    “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.” ~Proverbs 29:15
    “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of Spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” ~Hebrews 12:5-11
    “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” ~Revelation 3-19
    Sorry this was so long, I didn’t intend a mini Bible study, I just wanted to show throughout the whole Bible from beginning to end God is consistent & very clear on this subject. This is a certain Biblical Principle from the Highest Authority 🙂
    Much Love to You

    1. Thank you Kimberly. I’m writing a follow-up about Discipline and the Givernment in which I mention four of the versus from the Bible. I appreciate your sending this and with your permission I’d love to add parts of this to my new article.

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