Dr. Tripp begins the chapter by reminding us of the Circle of Safety from the last. He then jumps right into specifics. In chapter 11, we discussed the use of the rod (a spanking). Now, particularly with this age group, is the time to administer what we learned. Tripp gets a bit more practical in this chapter.
He starts with the "when" of spanking. When does a child need a spanking? Tripp says this is easy to discern - any time the child has heard and understood a command and he chooses to disobey. As tempting as it can be, we cannot let inconvenience lead us to inconsistency. Tripp says our children must understand that "when you speak for the first time, you have spoken for the last time." There should not be repeated warnings, pleadings, etc. We need to consistently discipline after the first offense.
He then deals with the "how" of spanking. He gives eight detailed "rules" that provide a form of discipline that preserves the child's dignity (pgs 150-153). I've shortened them as follows:
- Take your child to a private place where he can be spoken to in private. Your goal is not to humiliate him.
- Tell him specifically what he has done or failed to do.
- Secure an acknowledgement from the child of what he has done. This step may take a while.
- Remind him that the function of the spanking is not venting your frustration or because you are angry, but to restore him to the place in which God has promised blessing.
- Tell the child how many swats he will receive. This shows you are in control of yourself.
- Remove his drawers so that the spanking is not lost in the padding of his pants (this should be done only immediately before and then replaced immediately after the spanking). Lay the child across your lap so the spanking is done in the context of your physical relationship.
- After you have spanked, take the child up on your lap and hug him, telling him how much you love him, how much it grieves you to spank him and how you hope that it will not happen again.
- Pray with him and encourage him in Christ.
Next, Tripp addresses the "why" of spanking. Simply because God has commanded it (we talked about this in great detail in chapter 11).
I really enjoyed his list of frequently asked questions. The first, I asked myself on many occasions.
- When is my child old enough? Whenever the child understands and willingly disobeys. His example was of an 8 month old that obeyed a command when the parent was in the room but then disobeyed when he saw the parent was gone.
- What if my child says, "But I didn't hear you?" He suggests having a conversation with the child and explaining clearly to them that when you are speaking, he should perk up his ears to hear you over all other noise.
- Some say, "If I follow your counsel, all I'll do is spank." Tripp reminds those if they are consistent in discipline, the children will find a child quickly responding and the need for discipline decreasing.
- What if I'm too mad? We are told to excuse ourselves and seek the Lord. Only after we have repented of our anger, may we discipline our children. If we've disciplined out of anger, we are to seek forgiveness from our children.
- What if we're not home? Tripp says we may have to let certain things pass when our children are very young because they do not have a long enough memory to discipline later. On balance, most of our training should be done at home so it should be taken care of on those occasions. We need to use careful judgment when using physical discipline with our children in public.
- What if I know my child is lying to me? After seeking an honest response with our child, to no avail, we should move into a general discussion of the importance of integrity. Tripp says we should never call our children liars as it disheartens them and hurts the relationship.
- What if I'm not sure what happened? If we are not sure, we should not discipline. He reminds us there will be plenty of times when we are sure and we should not lose our credibility by disciplining our children when they may not have sinned.
- What if nothing works? Tripp says we are either not being consistent or not waiting long enough for the fruit of the Lord. We have to be obedient to God's command, even if it does not seem to be working.
- What if it is too late? We are told that it is never too late - though it will be harder to "re-lay the foundation under the completed house." If our children are old enough and we have not disciplined them correctly, He suggests we do the following:
- Sit down with our children and explain our new insights.
Tell them what we've done wrong.Seek their forgiveness for our failures as a parent.Give them specific direction about what changes you think are
needed in their behavior, attitudes and so forth.Determine how you will respond to disobedience in the future and
be sure they understand.As much as we are able, live a biblically consistent
life.Be prepared to be patient. Pray. Wait on God. Study the
In the end, Tripp reminds us that our focus must be on what it means for us to honor God in our family, not how to get our kids in line. He says getting our kids in line is a by-product of honoring God.
If you've never felt the weight of parenting, how about now? :) But it's encouraging to know what the Lord expects of us and seek our best to serve Him well.