DEALING WITH ANGER
For weeks now we have been talking about this insidious, all-too-pervasive problem of anger in our children. We have recognized our own anger and learned when to not discipline because our own emotions are not under control. We have taken a long hard look at how God views outbursts of anger. And we’ve examined the inner workings of our lifestyle; those patterns we have fallen into that might provoke our poor kids to acting out of frustration at a too busy, too stressed, too messy life.
Now its time to get serious.
After all you’ve done to rework your own attitude and schedule, restructuring your home in such a way as to give your young children the best possible environment for success, Johnny gets mad. So mad that he throws himself on the floor, flinging toys and flailing limbs in a grand display of fury. What now?
This is the way of Scripture. It is the way of wisdom. And it works— eventually.
Now, I first have to qualify what a spanking is not.
What a spanking is not:
- A spanking is not a swat on the behind.
To go after your child with your hand raised in a force-filled display of adult power is not a biblical spanking! That’s hitting. That’s what a bully does.
- A spanking is not a last resort when all else fails.
Repeated warnings and time outs and yelling and scolding that eventually escalates to spanking is a dangerous use of discipline. Your child will not have any idea when “enough is enough” if you randomly reach for the next most forceful means of conveying your displeasure.
A wise parent matches the appropriate discipline to the behavior of the child.
- A spanking is not child abuse.
Nor is it illegal. A calm, loving, thought-through spanking is not out of control or damaging. It does not cause harm to the child— either emotionally or physically.
- A spanking is not random.
It is planned, explained, and anticipated as a direct result of disobedience.
- A spanking is not public.
A carefully processed spanking is private, between parent and child. It should be done behind closed doors with a minimum of fuss. It should never be used to shame your child, nor should it ever be done in front of others. Better to by-pass the needed spanking than to spank in a public place.
- A spanking is not corporal punishment.
A biblical spanking is not punishment at all. A punishment is giving someone what he or she deserves. To discipline is a form of training your child to respond in the right way— the way that will bring blessing into his or her life.
So, you’re not going to chase your child down, or swat his diaper protected little behind, or give him “what he deserves”. Instead, you are going to spank him.
How to spank:
- Identify what you will use to spank with.
Never use your hand. I want my hands to be used to comfort and calm, not to cause pain. That brief moment it takes to go and get the “spanking spoon”, gives you a few seconds to ask yourself if this spanking is being done in careful love.
- Find a private place.
Go to a quiet room away from others, close the door, and begin the process.
- Use concise, clear words to explain.
For very young children, the less words, the better. “No temper” is easily understood. An older child needs some explanation. But avoid a scolding at this point. You’ve already decided to spank him, keep shame away.
- Ask him to tell you why you are spanking him. Be specific.
It is important that you are sure you’ve communicated your heart to your child. If he thinks you are spanking him because you’re mad, then no heart change will happen on his part. He might not agree with you, but at least prompt him to identify why you have chosen to spank him.
- Three swats are plenty.
Less is more when it comes to a spanking. What you want is a soft, sorry child, not a terrified child writhing in pain.
- Gather him close.
When the spanking is over, draw him into your embrace and kiss his tears away. Cuddle, soothe, and rock him gently as his crying subsides. If he draws away from you, pull him back and tell him he must come into your embrace. Train him that this is a part of the process whether he wants it or not. You are giving him what he needs.
- Pray a blessing on him.
This is a time to thank God out loud for all the things you love about this child He has created. It is a time to believe with God in your child. Do not pray worried, scolding prayers in front of your child, lest he think God is mad at him. Save those for later when you are alone and crying out for wisdom.
- It’s done!
Never mention it again. Tell you husband privately so he gets a glimpse into the patterns you are dealing with, but don’t make this into a big family discussion. Your child sinned; you spanked him, and now its over.
That’s just how God disciplines us, and He calls it GRACE.
From my heart,
The best book I know about biblical discipline is Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. He thoroughly explains the why’s and how’s of spanking and the processes involved in shaping your child’s heart.