Keeping My Promise to Discipline my Kids

The Promise to Discipline My Kids: One I Didn’t Want to Have to Keep

When I make a promise to discipline my kids, I want them to know that I mean it.

It’s not that I want them to live in fear of me or for them to feel like they’re walking through life on egg shells. I want them to know that I mean it because I want them to know that they can trust what I say and that my words are consistent with my behavior.

Even though I will keep my promise to discipline my kids, sometimes, I really really really don’t want to.

So, here’s what happened…

Making The Promise To Discipline My Kids

My four year old really is a dream child…most of the time. She is eager to please, sweet, kind, intelligent, and an all-around happy kid. Maybe that’s part of the problem, because when she acts out, I feel like shouting “WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE REAL AVERY?!?”

Anyways, the latest is that she has been refusing to eat her vitamins.

Ok, before we left on vacation, we had no problems with these gummy vitamins. It was part of her morning routine and was never an issue. We come back from vacation, and I start hearing “I don’t like these” and the ever-so-bold “I’m not going to eat these.”


So one day, she took hours to eat these 2 tiny gummy vitamins. Literally. She took the smallest nibbles she could possibly take, despite my insistence on getting the job done. Next day, same thing. And again….

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    A Promise I Didn’t Want to Have to Keep

    Yes, I know that not eating her gummies is not going to put her on America’s Most Wanted list. However, the defiance and drama is something we felt needed to be nipped in the bud immediately.

    One morning, I had to take our youngest to an appointment and planned to take both girls to the park afterwards. I let Avery know what I had planned…and also that if she did not eat her vitamins before it was time to go, that she would sit and watch as Riley and I played at the park.

    Guys, I really did not want to have to keep my promise.

    So I reminded. I counted down the time. I nagged.

    I told her that I did not want her to have to miss playing at the park, but that I would keep my promise.

    And you know what?

    She finished those stinking gummies as I opened the door to leave. She just barely made it by the skin of her teeth! And I was SO relieved.

    Mom disciplining her kid

    Why Do I Have To Keep The Promise to Discipline My Kids?

    As parents, it is so important to be mindful of our words and actions. Kids are like little sponges…and they’re definitely watching!

    What would have happened if I would have not kept my promise? Would she believe me in the future? Will she continue to trust me? How will she view the value of her own words?

    Like Us, God Promises To Discipline His Children

    In the Bible, God is often described as our heavenly Father. He’s the best Father we could ever hope to have, because He created each of us, knows us better than we know ourselves, and knows what our futures hold and how to guide us to and through it.

    Examples from Israel’s History

    Before the Israelites go into the promised land after being slaves in Egypt, God gives them “The Law” – how He expects them to worship and conduct themselves as His people. In Deuteronomy 28:1-14, numerous blessings are given IF the people keep their commitment to follow the commandments given to them. In Deuteronomy 28:15-68, the Israelites are told what the consequences will be for breaking their promise.

    The Old Testament is full of examples of God’s people turning away from him to do evil. He sends them many warnings about what will happen if they do not repent and do what is right, but tragically, they rarely listen. It is not until God keeps his promise to discipline that they see the error of their ways and repent.

    Period of the Judges

    After the death of Joshua (who led the people of Israel after Moses died), the following generations did not know the LORD or what he had done for Israel. There was no king, so everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25). Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right?

    Very briefly, let me explain the visual. The people would rebel and do what was evil, so God would punish them as he said he would. Israel would reach “rock bottom,” realize their mistakes, and cry to God for help. God would send a judge to save them from their enemies, and things would be all right…for a little while. Then, when that judge died, the people would go right back and be even more corrupt than before (Judges 2:11-19).

    Cycle of Sin in Judges

    And so the cycle repeated itself over and over again.

    Each time the people rebelled, God kept his promise to discipline and brought punishment against the Israelites.

    As earthly parents, discipline does not mean a lack of love for our kids. In fact, the opposite is true! The same with God. God is all-loving and unimaginably patient – when the people cried out to Him and repented, he rescued them.

    Sometimes (well, many times) the promise to discipline has to be kept several times before the lesson is truly learned. Rarely will kids “get it” on the very first try.

    Promises in the book of Amos

    Unfortunately, when Israel is ruled by kings, they continue this downward spiral. They worshipped false gods, oppressed the poor, and took pleasure in doing the things that God told them not to do.

    Discipline is healthy

    As part of our daily Bible reading, we recently read through the book of Amos. Many of the prophets in the Old Testament warn the people to turn from their evil ways, and to seek God and do what is right. If they do not, God warns them of the punishment to follow.

    Like earthly parents, God tried to get the Israelites’ attention and save them from further discipline.

    “I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities,
        and lack of bread in all your places,
    yet you did not return to me,”
    declares the Lord.”

    Amos 4:6

    “I struck you with blight and mildew;
        your many gardens and your vineyards,
        your fig trees and your olive trees the locust devoured;
    yet you did not return to me,”
    declares the Lord.”

    Amos 4:9

    God did not leave the people uninformed or surprised about the consequences of their sin. They knew there would be punishment for their actions.

    “For the Lord God does nothing
        without revealing his secret
        to his servants the prophets.
    The lion has roared;
        who will not fear?
    The Lord God has spoken;
        who can but prophesy?”

    Amos 3:7-8

    “The Lord God has sworn by his holiness
        that, behold, the days are coming upon you,
    when they shall take you away with hooks,
        even the last of you with fishhooks.”

    Amos 4:2

    History tells us that the people did go into captivity and that God kept his promise.

    What Kinds Of Promises to Discipline Should I Make To My Kids?

    How do you think it made God feel to have to keep his promise? As a parent, when I have to discipline my kids, it is not a pleasant experience. I much prefer to hear them giggling than upset and crying. I have to think that the same is true of God.

    Discipline is healthy, necessary, and if done correctly, is done out of love.

    All Pro Dad has a great reminder to never discipline out of anger or revenge.

    We must never “get even” with our kids for their misbehavior. Promising your children that you will only discipline them out of love makes a powerful statement. 

    Andrew Linder

    Discipline is intended to teach, not to make our children afraid of us. Kids are not just adults in little bodies – they’re learning and will make mistakes.

    Natural Consequences

    Some forms of discipline are natural consequences of behavior. For example, if I tell Avery to stop sliding on her knees and she gets a rugburn, that is a natural consequence.

    Most kids like to run, jump, and climb…mine really like to climb (I blame their gymnast daddy 😉). Even though I want to keep them safe and protect them, I also have to let them be kids and learn some things the hard way. As long as they are not in immediate danger, I’ll let them climb a little higher than I’d like them to…and be waiting to catch them just in case.

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      Promises That Are Age Appropriate

      For discipline to be effective, it has to be appropriate.

      Have you ever been scolded for an unrealistic expectation? It may happen more than we realize. What if I punish my four-year old for not being able to cook dinner? That’s an exaggeration of course, but it is important to set rules and expectations that our kids can actually achieve.

      I don’t hold my two-year old and my four-year old to the same standards. It’s not realistic or fair to either of them (even though Avery sometimes disagrees with that, haha).

      If one of my girls consistently struggle with an expectation, it could be that they need a little more teaching or training. But it also might mean that they’re not quite ready developmentally to meet that expectation.

      Keep your promise to discipline

      Promises That Are Situation Appropriate

      You’ve heard the saying that a “punishment should fit the crime.” When someone breaks a law, there are different consequences (or sentences) for varying transgressions.

      Is it appropriate to not let my child watch TV for a month because she didn’t share her toy? Probably not. What if I withhold snacks or dessert for not finishing a meal? Maybe so.

      I’m Jinxing Myself!

      It must be bad luck to write about disciplining your children – literally as I was writing this post, my daughter asked if she could have a Little Debbie for a snack. Hard pass. It was almost dinner time, plus the amount of sugared up crazy afterwards did not excite me. She didn’t like my answer and tried to press the issue.

      After we finished our discussion, I heard her go to her daddy and ask him the same thing. He didn’t know about our conversation and enjoys treating his girls. So, he went to get her one. I interrupted and told him what had happened. We frequently tell our girls that “mommy and daddy are on the same team.” The Little Debbie was put back and will not be had any time today. Avery stormed off crying. Was that appropriate? ABSOLUTELY.

      Only you can decide what is and is not appropriate for your home, but keep the situation in mind when deciding on disciplinary action.

      For discipline to be effective, it has to make sense.

      Promises That You Will Act On

      Empty threats are not the same as a promise to discipline my kids.

      Never have I ever promised to tell Santa not to come or to return their gifts. Why? Because that is not a promise I would keep. Something like that may actually hurt me more than it would hurt them!

      If all I do is make threats to discipline, but never follow through and act on them, how can that be effective? Giving empty threats is bluffing…and your kids will call you on it every time.

      Along with your spouse, talk about what is and is not realistic for your family. When a consequence is agreed upon, enforce it!

      For discipline to be effective, it has to be consistent.

      Benefits Of Consistent Parenting And Discipline

      Discipline is intended to teach and instruct…not cause fear. I feel like I brought the hammer down a little with this post, but hopefully it was received as a loving, well-intended hammer 😊. By keeping my promise to discipline my kids, lessons are learned (in time) and I don’t have to keep correcting the same behavior (they move on to new ones 😉😂).

      If parenting and discipline didn’t work, what would be the point of even trying? I shudder to think what my daily life would be like if my kids ran amuck and we had no sense of expectations or authority!

      Build Authority

      In order to effectively lead your family, you have to actually be the leader. The earlier you establish your parental authority, the better. Of course, it’s not a “done once and for all” thing and will take continual work and effort.

      Quick side story…we have 2 dogs. When the youngest was a puppy, I hated him. I know that sounds bad, but he was the worst puppy EVER. He’s super smart and seemed to use his powers to aggravate the daylights out of us. We tried to train him for months to no avail. Finally, we took him to obedience school. Pretty early on in his lessons, the trainer told us the problem – he hadn’t accepted our authority. She taught us a few exercises to do (like holding him on his back in our lap until he was calm) and in time, we saw huge improvements in his behavior! If you saw him today, you would never know what a pill he was.

      My daughters playing outside with the dog

      Kids are the kids, and parents are the parents. Sometimes, I think we get too caught up on wanting to be the “fun mom” or “cool mom” or even having our young kids be our “best friends” that we forget that we are their parents and are supposed to fill the authoritative role in their lives.

      Think about God – he is the ultimate authority. And yes, there are times when he wields that authority, but not without first giving expectations, warnings, and/or less-harsh consequences.

      When the time comes, God will always keep his promises…both of reward and of punishment.

      This verse always makes my heart race a little bit…

      Israel, prepare to meet your God.

      Amos 4:12

      Being an authority over your kids is not a bad thing…it is your most important role! How can you teach them anything otherwise? Kids will of course rebel from time to time to test the limits, but they need to know you’re in charge. That you’ve got this.

      Build Trust

      When you keep your promises and demonstrate your authority from a place of love, your kids will grow to trust you. We have a habit of asking our daughters “why do we have rules?” The answer they give is “to keep us safe.”

      Sometimes, “because I said so” may be a sufficient answer – I don’t have to give them a reason for every single thing I say. However, knowing that rules are coming from a place of love and concern, not just whims that mama and daddy came up with can be extremely helpful.

      Build Good Behavioral Patterns

      As parents, you know your child well enough to know what they can understand and what they can handle.

      My husband and I make it a point to start teaching our kids from a very young age. When you start early, good behavioral patterns are second nature. When one of our girls crosses a well-established line, I can usually just cock an eyebrow at them or say something like “is this how you’re supposed to behave?” or “when has that ever been ok?” and that takes care of it.

      I like to think of these patterns as a fenced yard. Once I lay out the “boundaries,” everything inside of the fence is fair game. I absolutely don’t expect my children to be perfect or quiet and calm at all times – they’re kids! But I do expect them to stay “in the yard.”

      Someone once shared some advice they were given as a young parent…”you’ll love your kids no matter what. But raise them so other people love to be around them too.”

      The “fence” we’ve built for them keeps them safe as they’re playing and helps us all to enjoy our time together…not just endure it.

      Keeping my promise to discipline my kids is not my favorite thing to do.

      But I do it because I love them and it’s necessary! I want them to live happy, well-balanced, and Godly lives…and that requires training.

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      Keep your promise to discpline

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