Attitude is important. When training our children, we need to insist not only on right action but on right attitude as well. In part one of this blog, we looked at how to address our children’s attitude by:
- Proactively teaching God’s Word
- Promoting right attitudes and
- Promptly correcting
Now we’ll address how to rectify those attitudes. When correcting for attitude, we have the same tools at our disposal that we use for correcting behavior, including:
- Biblical Reproof/Admonishment – Whether or not an additional consequence is required, your correction must include a biblical reproof. This is more than just a reminder. It calls to mind the biblical standard your child has violated and encourages and instructs him in righteousness. As in the example above about my son’s tone, we identified the attitude by its biblical label and reminded our kids to choose to “put on” the right attitude. For younger children, I often quoted an applicable Scripture. I might say to a 6-year-old complaining about her chores, “God tells us we are to ‘Do all things without complaining…’ (Phil 2:14 NKJV) Are you demonstrating a joyful or complaining spirit right now?” In this way, I can help my child compare her attitude to God’s standard.
- Isolation – Isolation can be used both to help the child gain self-control and as a consequence for a bad attitude. When isolating to gain control, you may still add a consequence once the child has repented and is ready to receive it. The time it requires is dependent on the child. If you were using isolation as a consequence, you would give a prescribed period of time that the child would miss out on an activity or social interaction. So in the example above of a complaining child, she may need to sit for a few minutes until she repents of her complaining and has a willing heart to do her chores cheerfully. Isolation is not the consequence – it’s just necessary to help her to change her attitude. As a consequence for the attitude itself, I may add extra chores to give her practice in serving the family without complaining. If my child is angry and complaining because he lost a game with his siblings, isolation can be given as a consequence and would mean sitting quietly elsewhere while the other kids continued to play without him.
- Logical Consequences – Giving extra chores to a child who needs to learn to work without complaining is an example of a logical consequence. Whenever possible we should choose things related to the issue at hand. If a child is unwilling to correct his attitude, it is appropriate to remove a privilege until he can bring it under control. If it takes a long time for him to do this, you may pull a privilege entirely. This is especially helpful when working on rebellious attitudes. I refused to take my kids out in public if they were giving me a lot of attitude at home. I let them know that the outing would be cancelled until I could trust them to show proper attitudes. Since you don’t want to punish all for the attitude of one, find a way to sideline the offending party while still allowing the others to participate. This might include requiring a child to sit by you while the others are allowed to play at the playground or go swimming.
- Chastisement – “The rod and reproof give wisdom…” Proverbs 29:15. For young children, acts and attitudes of rebellion can be corrected with a biblical chastisement. For more on this tool see Session 12 of Growing Kids God’s Way or https://growingfamilies.life/parenting-from-the-tree-of-lifeblog/2018/6/1/lsv17-15s-more-correction-options
For discipline to be complete, parents must take the time to instruct and correct wrong attitudes, as well as wrong behavior, in our children. By doing so, we will help them to gain victory over the sin in their lives. We will effectively train them in wisdom and they will be happier themselves, a joy to us, and a blessing to others. We also recommend this post from Beth Blunk on pursuing loving relationship with your child in the midst of discerning when to focus on attitude.
Beth Ann Plumberg and her husband Chuck are parents to 4 wonderful sons and daughters-in-love and grandparents to 5 adorable grandchildren. They have taught parenting classes since 1993. They enjoy reading, history and family research and live with 2 cats full-time on the road in their travel trailer.