We are almost to the end of our Shepherding a Child’s Heart book study. Today’s chapter goes into more detail on the idea of spanking. In the opening of the chapter, Tripp pointed out that he and his wife used to notice “cyclical patterns of behavior” with their children, where “every few months, they would become unruly,” so the Tripp’s would get serious about being precise and consistent, returning to the “basics – speaking once and expecting obedience.” As things returned to normal, eventually the pattern would repeat itself. Then one day, they realized they were the ones producing the cycles! “When things went well, we became lax. Eventually, the deterioration in our children’s behavior would become painfully obvious. We would respond with renewed courage and effort.” Before getting into any of the rest of the chapter, I have to admit that this passage hit me over the head! I have seen this exact thing in my two boys. As soon as I think my boys have something down, a week or two later the issue will start cropping up again! And I realized that this is sometimes because I let things slide when they are “mostly” obeying. I was convicted of my need to be more consistent in how I deal with disobedience. This can be hard because it takes effort and mental stamina that can sometimes be difficult to muster. But if I keep the end goal in mind, then I will be more likely to persevere.
Moving on, the rest of the chapter goes into the how, when, and why’s of spanking. In a nutshell, Tripp says:
- When: “when you have given a directive that he has heard and is within his capacity to understand, and he has not obeyed without challenge, without excuse or without delay”
- How: “You must avoid responding in anger…treating your child without proper respect for his person and dignity,…temper unwavering firmness with kindness and gentleness, Remember that discipline is a rescue mission, [and] You must keep the spanking focused on issues of the heart”
- Why: “God commands it. Additionally, spanking enables you to deal with issues of the heart”
Tripp then addresses some of the frequently asked questions. This is where I again disagreed with him a bit. For example he says “Rebellion can be something as simple as a small child struggling against a diaper change or stiffening his body when you want him to sit on your lap….You have no way of knowing how much a child less than a year old can understand, but we do know that understanding comes long before the ability to articulate.” The problem is that earlier Tripp says that a parent must “Secure an acknowledgement from the child of what he has done.” This obviously can’t be done with a very young child and I would be very careful of seeing something like struggling against a diaper change as true “rebellion” at less than a year old.