Discipline or Punishment for Toddlers?


How effective is anger in discipling children? I would say that it is NOT effective at all, and  is actually harmful.

Disciplining my children is vital to their growth.

My definition of discipline is instruction, with consequences for willful disobedience.

Dealing with children in anger is not discipline, it’s punishment.

If my 2 year old pinches his 12 month old brother, I could yank him away from the baby by his arm while I’m yelling. That’s punishment. On the other hand, if I swiftly pick him up and carry him away, look at him eyeball to eyeball, and calmly explain that we don’t inflict pain on other people, that’s discipline.

Many years ago, as a volunteer for the Office of Aging, I was delivering Christmas presents in a neighboring city, to a client who only spoke Spanish. As I entered her apartment I heard a gentleman  speaking very loudly. It turned out that he was a salesman who was getting angry because she understood no English, and neither he or I knew Spanish. As he grew more angry, his tone of voice grew nasty and even louder.

How did he think that raising his voice and/or getting angry was going to help with his sales pitch?

The client was now afraid. The salesman left in a huff, having failed in his effort to sell his project.

And yet, that’s what I was doing with my children. My yelling and anger was not helping my ‘sales pitch’ to correct their behavior.

That experience helped me understand the consequences of anger.

Anger and raising my voice caused two things:

  1. My children learned how to push my buttons, (which is never a good thing).
  2. It caused my children to feel fear, hurt or even bitterness.

My goal was to train my children in the way that  they should go, and if they made bad choices I wanted them to run TO me and TO God, not away.

Who wants to run to an angry parent or an angry God?

I can be angry at the act, without being angry at the person. Isn’t that how God deals with us?

I ask my children frequently what they could do to make me love them more, or love them less.

The answer is nothing.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to help the children understand unconditional love, AND it is a powerful reminder for ME to ‘hate the sin but love the sinner.’

I’d love to read your ideas about dealing with anger and young children!
(Photo of 2 of my grandkids!)IMG_2436


Bonni is the author of Mom By Example

About Bonni

What happens when a Jewish girl from Philadelphia falls in love with and marries a Christian hog farmer from a small rural town 85 miles from her home? Well, in my case, I became a Christian, but struggled to be the loving wife and joyful mother to my 4 young sons. This blog was born in order to share one tip a day that I learned, that could now help other moms learn to handle life with patience, grace and joy!

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