Today, the sixth part of this series on stiff necks and rebellious hearts,  I’m role-playing with you to show a specific list of questions that you can use when you are “dealing” with your child’s heart to bring about restoration.  I refer to this as The Discipline Process. The purpose of discipline is none other than to have hearts restored with God, the parties involved, and yourself. In so doing, you’ll be maintaining a peaceful home in which all family members’ hearts are connected.

The Discipline Process.  

Remember that the purpose of discipline is to bring about a change in the heart. When your child’s heart has been restored with God, you, and the offended…you will most definitely see the turnaround of your child’s heart in his very demeanor. Done correctly, this truly does bring forth a happy child. If you give into your own exhaustion or fall victim to “ain’t nobody got time fo dat” and you don’t STOP THE WORLD to deal with the ugly heart, you won’t see the heart change. True, the behavior may stop, but dealing with the heart produces a turnaround of the heart, bringing the rebellious stiff-necked child to a beautiful place of yielded, content, joyful child.

Learning patience with little ones while doing their schoolwork. @2001

Learning patience with little ones while doing their schoolwork. @2001

Key Questions for this Restoration Process.

Let’s say John, 18 months old, wrote on his sister Connie’s homework assignment. Connie yells at him. In a separate location, sitting down, looking eye to eye, calmly  yet directly and firmly communicating with Connie, parent to the heart to bring about restoration. Be careful…check your own heart first…don’t do this in anger, or shame, blame, or put the attention on yourself and how they have irritated you. And, the goal is not to just get them to stop the behavior. Here are some key questions that we have used with our children that have helped in maintaining a peaceful home in which hearts are continually restored.

What did you do?

  • Goal: for her to identify and “own’ her sin, her part in the situation,  not to shift blame nor to focus on the other person’s sin being worse or causing her actions.
  • After you ask this question, wait and listen. Let her respond. Initially you’ll have to teach this new way of thinking, guiding her thought process away from the other person’s actions and back to her own.  She might say, “He wrote on my paper. He was mean. He messed my stuff up” while completely missing what she did. You might have to say, “Yes, I know he was mean. I will deal with that separately. I’m talking with YOU right now about YOUR actions. What did you do? Don’t be discouraged. Keep this pattern up and before long, your child will be able to easily identify and “own” and deal with her own heart and not worry about the other person’s sin.
  • Example:   “Connie, what did you do?” “I stabbed John.”

Why did you do it?

  • Goal: to reveal the motive of her heart.
  • Her response of “because he messed up my paper” reveals her selfishness.
  • The pattern for her could be”things over people,” desire for perfection, or inability to be flexible, lack of patience, etc.

Was it right or wrong?

  • Goal: for her to evaluate her own behavior as right or wrong.
  • Example: “Connie, was stabbing John right or wrong?” “It was wrong.”
  • If she says, “It was wrong, but he deserved it. I’m so tired of him doing this…” She is revealing the selfishness of her heart through those answers. Get her back to focusing on her actions and identifying them as right or wrong, not his.

Why was it wrong?

  • Goal: for her to identify the root of her behavior, being specific with the condition of the heart.
  • Example: “Connie, why was stabbing John wrong?” “Because I hurt him.” Even though this IS true, you want to teach her to think deeper than this so she can see her heart and what caused this anger to show up through stabbing. You may have to say, “I agree that having him draw on your paper takes a lot of patience, and it’s hard. Why do you think it bothered you to the point of stabbing him?” “Because he is soooo annoying.” (selfish and easily provoked – identifying that patience and long-suffering are needed). “Because he messes up everything I have.” (selfish, ownership of things, things are more important than relationships – identifying that she needs to understand and practice kindness and gentleness, showing that she prefers relationship over things).
  • Help her come to these conclusions, continually mentoring through a gentle heart not lecturing or an authoritative way, guide her back to seeing the root of sin in her heart. In this case it might be that she is easily provoked, that her “things” have a grip on her, and that she does not handle these feelings properly.
  • Her response should end up, after talking with her to be boiled down to things like, “Because I was not patient” or “Because I was easily provoked and not long-suffering.” This may sound ridiculous to you if this is brand new to you, but trust me, your coaching to reaching these conclusions with your child will result in your child learning to see these things on her own. You’ll hear these types of answers before long. Don’t baby your kids- teach them to see deeply what they own.
  • Talk with her about these things happening again, and different responses. (Don’t teach your daughter to be a tattle tale, saying “next time, come get me” but rather teach her HOW to respond with love and patience next time.  Such as…getting a piece of paper and a few crayons and setting them up next to you for John to color on, or pausing from your school work (putting your own agenda aside and with loving, kindness, entering his world and preferring his interest) and sitting with him for a few minutes, or letting him sit on your lap, or completely stopping your work and saying, “John, what book do you want to read? Go get one” and sitting in his favorite spot to read with him.  And, teaching her HOW to respond in love (not completely ignoring it, since Connie can be part of training John, too) to such an annoying interruption. Connie shouldn’t always just completely ignore wrong behavior from her siblings, so teach Connie how to actually be part of training John, how to come alongside and handle things maturely and with gentleness.

What will you do the next time (fill in the blank)? 

  • Goal: for her to identify the right response(s) next time this same type of situation happens in which this set of character qualities are needed.
  • “What will you do the next time that X happens?” Fill in the X with whatever the “put on” that you discussed would require. You can be specific and then broader. In other words you could say, “What will you do the next time he writes on your paper?” and listen for his response. But, even greater is to see if she has assimilated how to put on this character quality in all situations that are bothersome, not just the sibling writing on her paper. You can in addition ask, “What will you do the next time someone irritates or interrupts you?” “Be long-suffering.” “Show kindness back.” “Consider their perspective and try to ‘enter their world.’ “
  • Example: “Connie, what will you do the next time John bothers you (or messes up your paper, or disturbs you when you’re concentrating)?” Use the specific examples that you see were the target of her frustration or the pattern you see in her, so that you can see if she understands how to respond correctly next time.
  • Remember, these questions are to teach your child to think so that she can understand and apply correct heart condition and behavior according to God’s Word.  (This is called wisdom.) This is our aim. Wise children.

 To whom do you need to apologize? 

  • Goal: to identify the specific ones she offended in order to make it right with those persons. She needs to own her role in this situation and be prepared to make it right- even if the other person doesn’t.  Make sure she knows that. She is responsible for her actions and apologizing.
  • Example: in this case such answers to who she wronged and needs to apologize are
    • to God, because of the sin in your own heart
    • to John, because of treating him disrespectfully. (again, your kids will use these words if you bottom line it for them like this. She was indeed disrespectful to her little brother.)
    • to You, yes, You. Why?  For several reasons including that her self-centeredness disrupted a peaceful home, demanded attention, took you away from feeding the baby (or whatever the case may be), for mistreating your son, etc. (I wouldn’t focus too much on this – the “you” part of this when you are first beginning this practice, but I certainly would mention it because they need to have a view beyond their own selfish perspective and know not that their actions affect the whole family and tone of the home.
    • Now, be a transparent example of the living, active Holy Spirit in YOU, role-modeling this teachable heart. Tell her, parent, any part of this whole scenario that YOU own and need to apologize for…Such as a temper when this happened, or selfish thoughts because you were irritated that her outburst took you away from a drinking a Diet Coke and reading your favorite book. LOL.
    • Role play with your children how this apology (that I’m sharing in great detail on tomorrow’s post) is done properly so that they are concentrating only on making their own hearts right and are prepared to go straightway and do this when you are finished talking with each other. This specific way to apologize is going to change your life…and your family’s…and the tone of your home.  My family still apologizes like this today.
  • Tell your child she is loved and you are so proud of her sweet, teachable heart. (You should have zero anger in your own heart and be able to freely communicate love to your child.)

Give one command.

  • That’s right. The next step is to give one command. But, I bet that doesn’t even make sense…yet.  Tune in in two days for more explanation on this. It will rock your world.
  • This is a super duper important key indicator and will be the main signal telling you if your “discipline session” was a success – and if hearts are truly restored.
  • This is where the child should easily and compliantly go to the person(s) who were offended and make it right.  This restoration means that the discipline process was successful, that the heart was dealt with, and that the hearts of all in your home are back in peace with each other.

Go apologize to all offended parties.

Halleluuujer.  You did it! You may be exhausted. (I know I am… just from writing this process. LOL). But,  again, I say it will pay off! You are training children to

  • recognize and own their own sin,
  • know how to identify the root cause of their sin,
  • know how to put off that sin and in its place put on the right thought/action (according to God’s Word, not our own foolish thoughts),
  • know exactly whom they have offended, why, and how to properly apologize with no expectation of a return apology,
  • know the importance and how to’s of keeping a peaceful home in which all hearts are continually restored.

If you missed any in this series on “stiff necks and rebellious hearts,” you can click here.

Rhonda andagainIsayhallelujer.Heartsarerestored. ellis

  1. Mel

    Even with students in a classroom, restoration is stunningly beautiful. What a reminder of God chiseling us and restoring our souls. We must persevere with children, because He graciously preserveres with us.

    • I tried to click “like.” Awesome truths.

  2. Megan

    I was just thinking that this would work well in the classroom setting where the kids are usually fast to point the blame. I might even make a chart to keep handy with the questions to remember once school starts 😉

    • Megan, stay tuned. In the last blog of this particular series on Stiff Necks and Rebellious Hearts, I’ll give a summary of all of it so it won’t be spread out over so many posts. 🙂 Thanks for commenting.

  3. Mel

    A classroom chart is a wonderful place to post these questions. Thank you for the tip, Megan!

  4. Laura

    Just used your “specific questions to ask” to guide a discipline process… Wow.. The stiff neck is sooo true… And the give a command is so telling… Thank you!!! Just helped us through a difficult sibling situation!!

    • Thanks for sharing, Laura. Glad to hear it is practical information that is helpful.

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