What is the missing element in discipline?

Tom was the ideal son but around age 12 his behavior began to spin out of control. Two years later his parents were meeting with a counselor for help.

“We’ve tried everything. We spanked him. We took away privileges. We grounded him. We’ve tried to reward him for appropriate behavior. We’ve tried every recommendation. What did we do wrong?”

Tom’s parents loved him. They tried to parent “by the book” but it just wasn’t working. Are some kids just “bad seeds” destined for trouble? What was up with their once ideal son?

This blog focuses a lot on discipline for children because that’s an area many parents struggle with. But, there is a foundational ingredient that needs to be mixed with our discipline or it will likely go sour.

Love is not enough. Tom’s parents loved him and loved one another. But when the counselor talked with Tom he discovered something missing.

In his head, Tom knew his parents loved him but in his heart he didn’t feel loved. Tom told the counselor he had always longed for a close relationship with his parents but finally gave up.

What went wrong? Are Tom’s parents to blame? Probably not. They just didn’t know how to communicate the love they had for him.

I’ve seen this over and over again with parents. Obviously they love their kids but as I watch them interact I realize they are not connecting, not communicating that love in a way the child can “feel”.

I’m not some “touchy-feely” guy but I’ve lived long enough to discover that love uncommunicated is virtually worthless.
Open criticism is better than unexpressed love.    – Proverbs 27:5

I don’t just need to be loved. I need to feel loved.

God not only loved us but he demonstrated that love in a way we could understand.
This is how God showed his love among us …. 1 John 4:9 

Using the right Love Language can help a lot but in working with children and in my own parenting I’ve discovered there are some others things that make a world of difference to children but are easily overlooked by adults.

Next post: Ways to Help Any Child Feel Loved.

Until then, let’s work on helping our kids – or for that matter, every kid in our world – feel loved and check out: 5 Love Languages of Children and 5 Love Languages of Teenagers
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