In this installment of our synopsis of Tedd Tripp’s book “Shepherding A Child’s Heart,” we will look at Chapter 15 – Infancy to Childhood: Training Procedures.” In the early years, discipline is weighted towards the rod because young children generally do not give much weight to conversation. In this chapter, Mr. Tripp examines the details of spanking including several question raised about spanking.
The “When” of Spanking
Tripp summarizes, “When you have given a direction that has been heard and is within his capacity to understand, and he has not obeyed without challenge, without excuse or without delay, he needs a spanking. If you fail to spank, you fail to take God’s Word seriously.”
As parents, we must be consistent. We cannot ignore disobedience. Failure to be consistent results from parents taking the easy way out. It is far more difficult to consistently make decisions based on sound biblical guidance and what is best for our kids. Tripp also explains that we must not warn and we must not ask kids if they want to be spanked. If we do, we train them to wait for the warning before obeying.
The “How” of Spanking
First and foremost, a spanking must never be done out of anger. Even in spanking, we must treat our kids with respect. Tripp states, “Remember that discipline is a rescue mission. You must keep the spanking focused on issues of the heart.” To that end, Tripp offers the following advice on the “how” of spanking:
- It should be in a private place.
- Tell your child specifically what they have done or failed to do. (Tripp suggests that later in life we can correct for attitudinal issues, but for younger children the correction must be for specific actions.)
- Make sure the child understands and acknowledges what they have done.
- Remind the child that you are not spanking them because you are frustrated or angry but to restore them to the place of God’s protection and promised blessing (i.e., the Circle of Protection). The spanking reflects your obedience to God as the parent and concern for your chid.
- Let the child know beforehand how many swats he will receive.
- Remove his drawers so the spanking is felt. Tripp warns not to shame the child in this process.
- After the spanking, hug your child and tell them how much you love them, how much it hurts you to spank them, and how you hope you won’t have to do it again.
- Pray with him.
After the spanking, Tripp says that you and your child should have “complete restoration.” If the child refuses to be restored to you, Tripp suggests that you check the following two things:
- Check your own spirit.
- Check his spirit. If discipline has not resulted in peace and righteousness, it is not over. Sometimes this results in having to repeat the spanking process. If it continues not to work and the child is unwilling to be restored to you, Tripp suggests something along the lines of the following: “I love you, son, I have disciplined as much as is appropriate at this time. My desire is to see you submit to Daddy. My goal is total restoration of our relationship and closeness. I am going to pray for us. I am going to pray that I will be a dad who is wise and kind. I will pray that you will submit to God’s order for family life and will honor and obey Mom and Dad.”
The other critical thing to remember is that once discipline is over, it’s over. The slate is clean. It’s time to start over fresh.
The “Why” of Spanking
Remember that when we discipline our kids, we are battling for their hearts. It is not about their behavior. It is about the heart, and God has given us the rod as the means of driving foolishness from the heart of the child.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, Mr. Tripp deals with some of the more popular questions he’s gotten about spanking. The following is a brief synopsis of his answers:
What is a spanking issue?
We should reserve spanking for what Tripp calls “Issues of Defiance.” These include failure to obey and failure to honor. As stated in an earlier chapter, you should never spank for acts of childishness.
When is my child old enough?
Tripp’s answer is simple. When the child is old enough to be defiant, he’s old enough to be spanked. He also points out that the longer you put off disciplining your young child, the more entrenched the disobedience will become.
When is a child too old?
There is not set age. Every child is different, and the circumstances of each child are different. Tripp does point out that spanking is most effective in small children because they fear being spanked. As they get older, they don’t react to it quite as much. As children get older, there are other consequences which parents can use.
Can I use time-out instead of spanking?
Tripp explains that we have no right to substitute anything for what God has commanded. We need to trust and obey God. It is OK to use other methods in addition to spanking, but it is never OK to use them as a substitute for spanking.
What if my child says, “But, I didn’t hear you?”
Tripp first suggests that you never challenge the validity of this statement. However, you should teach your children that this is not an acceptable answer. He suggests that if this is a problem, you should tell you children that they need to learn how to listen better as you will no longer accept, “I didn’t hear you” as an excuse.
If I follow your counsel, all I’ll do is spank.
Tripp explains that parents find when they are consistent with discipline, the need for it quickly decreases.
What if I’m too mad?
Tripp offers the comforting assurance that every parent has felt rage towards a misbehaving child. If you are too mad to discipline, you should instruct your child to go sit in another room. You job is to repent of your anger before God. If we do sin against our children in anger, we must ask for their forgiveness.
What if we’re not at home?
Tripp states that “In a culture that cannot distinguish between biblical discipline and child abuse, it is unwise to spank children in public.” Spanking should be done in a private place. Tripp also explains that as children approach school age, they can remember things long after they happen thereby allowing for discipline at a later time.
What is I know my child is lying to me?
First, you must get the child to admit to you that they have been dishonest. If that doesn’t work, you should move to a more general discussion regarding the need for integrity. Tripp also admonishes parents that they should never (never) call their children a liar. If you tell them you don’t believe them, it will dishearten them and will harm your future relationship. If they won’t admit to the lie, they may get away with it this time. The losses are less if you both walk away than if you call him a liar.
What if I’m not sure what happened?
If you don’t know, and the child won’t tell you, there is nothing to do. Your credibility with your kids increases when you refuse to discipline when things are not clear.
What if nothing works?
First, you need to look for any holes or inconsistencies in your parenting. Second, as parents, we need to be prepared to be obedient to God even if the benefits of that obedience are not immediately known or seen.
What if it is too late?
While Tripp admits that this process is easier in younger children, he reminds us that we serve a powerful God, and that we are never in the situation where there is not an obedient response. He suggests the following course of action:
- Talk to your child about your new insights and admit what you think you’ve done wrong in raising them. Assist them in seeing how things would have been different if you practiced then what you know now.
- Ask for their forgiveness for your failures.
- Provide them with clear, biblical guidance on being under authority.
- Talk to them about specific changes that are needed in their behavior, attitudes, etc.
- Talk to them about how you will respond to disobedience in the future. Make sure they understand it and are comfortable with it.
- Kids will resist anything that smells of manipulation. Any new approach must be part of your attempt to be biblical in all aspects of your life. It can’t be solely for the purpose of getting your kids to change.
- Be patient. You’ll need it. Pray. Wait on God, and study the Bible with your kids. The focus must be on what is needed to honor God, not on getting your kids to behave.
The “What if it is too late?” section of this chapter really hit me hard. I was 30 years old when I became a follower of Christ, and my oldest was nine already at the time. I have had a conversation similar to that laid out by Mr. Tripp with all three of my older children separately. It is a humbling experience, but I pray that God will use it as an example of obedience and humility to bring them to him. Thankfully, I found this book while the fourth is still young.
Chapter 16 – Childhood: Training Objectives: NEXT TIME>>