Ep. #13 – Parental Discipline Teaches Self-Discipline

I think of discipline as the continual everyday process of helping a child learn self-discipline.

– Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers Neighborhood)

In this episode you’re going to learn the single greatest thing you can do to lead your children into becoming successful adults.  Even if you don’t have children, this episode will help you understand why your parents did what they did and how your reaction to it has played into your ability to be successful as an adult.

Proper English Manners

I grew up in a home where manners were of high regard.  No elbows on the table, you don’t get up until you asked “may I be excused please” and you didn’t bother asking until mother Mom and Dad were finished eating. Sounds strict rigid and cruel but it was done out of love by parents who understood it was their duty to teach us discipline.

Today I’ve abandoned most of those rules at our table, but as I’ve gotten older I understand I’m doing a disservice to my children.  I thought it was silly to have rules for rules sake, but that’s not at all what my parents were doing…. well maybe. But truthfully, if we don’t teach our children discipline, we are promising them a life of mediocre existence.

Parental discipline is what we have until we’ve gained self-discipline.  In the same was as a personal trainer is there to hold you accountable to your fitness regimen, until you’ve reaped enough rewards in it to realize the pain of self-discipline is worth it for the results we gain.  This is the same with parental discipline, but it takes longer for an immature children to be cognizant of those rewards.  Doesn’t mean they don’t have them just as quickly, just that they’re not aware of those rewards.

Clean the Areas Nobody Will Ever See

When I was a kid my dad, who was born in 1925, used to tell us a story about his father requirements when it came to polishing their shoes.  Not only did they have to do this every week, they had to face an “inspection” of the shoes to make sure they were done right. Part of that inspection included a look at the “instep” of the shoes.  If you don’t know, that’s the area right in front of the heel. It almost never even touches the ground and it is certainly never seen by anyone else. But my grandfather said, rather crudely, a person who doesn’t polish the instep of his shoes probably don’t wipe properly after using the bathroom. In other words, just because nobody will ever see it, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be kept in the best condition ever.

Most of us gain self-discipline first when it comes to our jobs.  After all, if we don’t do our jobs properly we won’t have a job (or income) for much longer.  So we’re not really doing that out of pure self-discipline.  Even when it comes to eating properly or working out, we do this because there’s a outwardly visible results which, hopefully, others will admire. But, what about when it comes to your sock drawer? Does it look in order or are their mismatched socks tossed around in there?  What about that ONE drawer in your desk which is nothing but a bunch of junk? If you straightened these out, nobody would ever notice… but it would change your self-discipline.

Become a Champion of Self Discipline in Your House

Let your children know your rules aren’t there so you can lord over them, but instead, so they can lord over whatever is thrown at them in lift.  You’re teaching them to become adults and adults are the ones who discipline those around them… including themselves.

Please don’t mistake what I’m telling you for the ugly control freaks who wield their power out of some sort of ego rush. Teach your children discipline because you have a massive and deep love for them along with a tremendous desire for them to be the most successful adults possible.

People without parent discipline become people without self-discipline. People you see living a slothful life are the ones who don’t know when to tell themselves when to get up from the couch and get to work. They don’t know when the TV needs to be turned off and the creativity needs to be turned on.

Discipline Doesn’t Require Parent Inflicted Pain

In the book of Proverbs in the Torah or “Old Testament” as Christian like to call it, we’ve all read the words “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Some translations say “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” This is a little more accurate translation according to my understanding. But remember, the “rod” isn’t something you use to beat somebody, it’s mean to be a guiding rod. Something that is help up by a leader of people to show them the way. Too many “Christian leaders” have convinced their flock that it means they must beat their children. That’s not the case.

The last thing you should do, in my opinion, is to correct your children with violence. Instead, teach them what life will teach them eventually, if you don’t do what is required of you, there is going to be pain in your life.  The vast majority of the time this isn’t going to mean a beating, instead it means we’ll lose something we want and cherish such as our money.

The best way to teach your children discipline is to teach them the idea of consequences. If you don’t do X, at some point you are going to have to suffer Y. Find out what your child values most and take it away if they don’t do what is required of them. Maybe it’s their freedom, the TV, the social life, or maybe even the PS4. There has to be a strong consequence to make them feel the pain of their lack of discipline.

Love your children…. correct your children in a loving way… and teach your children to be self-disciplined.

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P. Desmond Adams

A formerly frustrated entrepreneur who has learned how to go from dreamer to doer to done. I help you discover your purpose, explore your psyche, maximise your productivity, and grow your platform so you can bring your unique gift to the world and live the life you deserve.