Monday, July 18, 2011

Delivering Consequences

While at the 3rd & 4th grade camp at the end of June at Look Up Lodge, I observed some actions and conversations that sparked some ideas! I got to stay in a mainly rising fourth grade girls' cabin. I am going to school for elementary education, so this was a great experience for me to tie into that.

While walking around the camp, I overheard a lot of conversation among even some of the younger girls that was a real reality check for me. Some examples of what I heard were several girls talking about some very secular music and how they were getting access to it. Several of the girls were somewhat bragging about getting on YouTube when their parents weren't home, or sneaking this type of music onto their iPods and hiding it from parents. I felt that I was in a unique position; I felt the girls viewed me not quite as an adult because I am only twenty, but still respected me. With this being said, they were not as cautious to say these things in my presence. I took that opportunity to explain to them why it was wrong to not only listen to those types of artists, but to then hide it from their parents. A good piece of scripture to apply and share in this type of situation is Proverbs 13:1 "A wise child accepts a parent's discipline; a mocker refuses to listen to correction." Expressing this concept to your child can be extremely beneficial. Also, Proverbs 15:5 states, "Only a fool despises a parent's discipline; whoever learns from correction is wise." This displays the importance of understanding and accepting a parent's discipline.

This past Spring, I took a course on educational psychology at Clemson University by Dr. Brent Igo. The class focused mostly around the way children think, act, react, learn, and how we are to interact and deal with them. A section of the class that I was reminded of when I came upon these issues at camp was the topic of consequences - the different types of consequences and when to use them.

There are four main ways to deliver consequences: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment.
  1. Positive reinforcement - giving your child something to increase a behavior. For example, if your daughter has been struggling with her quiet time, you can give her a devotional plan to encourage increasing her quiet times. With this example, you want to try to avoid your child relying too much on you for guidance.
  2. Negative reinforcement - taking something away from your child to then increase a behavior. An example of this would be if, like at camp, your child was hiding their music selections from you. You could take away their iPod to increase their obedience towards you.
  3. Positive punishment - giving your child something to decrease a behavior. For example, if your son is showing a lack of respect and honor towards his counselor at camp, you can give you child examples of how he should have acted to decrease the bad behavior in return.
  4. Negative punishment - taking something away from your child to decrease a behavior. This is probably the form that is most familiar with you. A common example of how this can put into effect would be if your child is disobeying your rules, you in return take away play time or friend opportunities to then decrease the disobedience.
Using these techniques, paired with scripture and supporting your children by being a good example of following Christ, can influence them and what they think more than you may realize. I strongly suggest having more specific and honest conversations with your child about these and other related topics. Also, I feel that giving personal examples when you have struggled with the same problem would be very beneficial. Follow up with ways to fix the problem by pointing your children closer to God through scripture and spiritual context.

Recommended Scripture:
Colossians 3:19-21 "Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. Children, always obey your parents, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged."
Ephesians 6:1-3 "Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. 'Honor your father and mother.' This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, 'things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.'"

- Michelle Phillips, Children's Ministry Kairos Intern

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