COLUMN: How to use certain types of discipline to help a child develop

By Brandon Ramsey

While I was preparing this article, I found myself battling with the voices in my head.  Yes, no matter what they say, counselors do that a lot. The voices were saying that no one else deals with this issue.  Everyone else’s children were born understanding responsibility and work ethic, having a good sense of right and wrong, and willing to share every toy they have with their little brother or sister.

What?  The voices were wrong?  Of course they were!  When children are born, they only know how to perform a couple tasks such as eat, sleep, breath, cry, and …… well you know the rest.  And they have to be helped along with some of those.  So how do they learn these things?  Discipline.  Not power driven, controlling, frightening discipline, but loving, thoughtful, purpose driven discipline.  Many times we don’t associate the latter with discipline, and if I took a poll at the local high school, I am sure I would be voted off the island.

Think of it this way.  Why would we make the effort to do some of the things we do to discipline our children?  Most of the time, the results of discipline make our lives one hundred times harder.  Taking the car away, grounding, taking away phone privileges, just make us have to run more and listen to much more whining and attitude.  It’s our love and concern for them that drives us to take on these burdens some time.

Pick which one you would rather have: a child that might behave for the three seconds you are in public or a child that grows to be well rounded and accepts the responsibilities placed on him or her by a job or family.

Many times I have had a parent come in to a session saying they are tired of always having to punish or discipline their child and that they feel their child is angry at them for it.  Some phrases that I focus on in these sessions are “You’re parenting for the future and, parenting is a lifelong task.”  It seems like you are disciplining your child for right now because you want them to stop doing it right this second, but the reality is that you are teaching the child a small lesson for his or her future.  The goal is not to focus on the attitude of the child this minute, but to evaluate what beneficial behavior your child will gain in his future.

Using discipline that is based on power and control is worthless.  It is only beneficial when you are within sight.  The second the child believes he or she can get away with it, which spans from seven to twenty-five with an emphasis on any year that ends with teen, they will surely try their luck.  Then you are stuck in reactive mode.

Using discipline based on love and purpose helps a child to develop his or her own decision making skills.  Communication with your child about your discipline coming out of love and concern for their future is critical. This communication should be allowed to be two way communication.  Allowing constructive questioning of discipline fosters understanding and respect for that discipline and the one issuing it.  More often than not this manifests itself in the future, not at the moment of the discipline.

It is important to remember that inconsistent discipline is more harmful because it causes stress and inconsistent lessons for the child.  The more you are consistent with redirection, although giving in could be easier, the more beneficial it is for the learning process.


Brandon is the Owner/Director of Faith in the Family Counseling. He has been practicing in Ruston for over 16 years. His website is Brandon was born and raised in Ruston and is a graduate of Ruston High and Louisiana Tech. He is married to Marcie Ramsey and has three childen.