Share with parents.

Children expect the “grown-up world” to be as it “should be”—that is, without hypocrisy and inconsistency. Thus, they react emotionally to situations that intrude upon their idealism. Wise parents learn to discern the differences between individuality and rebellion.

A child who questions authority is not necessarily being rebellious. He may simply need an answer to what appears to be inconsistent or wrong from his youthful perspective. Youth will “try” adult values to determine their validity. Parents sometimes confuse sincere interest in “knowing” (based on a student’s individuality and creativity) with rebellion. Children are inexperienced in communication and often inadvertently sound threatening when they are simply asking out of inexperience and impatience. When questions are not handled properly at this point, children may become frustrated, disillusioned, and “turned off.”

Even teenage rebellion may be based on inconsistencies seen in adult authority. Rebellion cannot be overlooked, nor should individuality and creativity—for they are the substance of growth and development. Parents who are sensitive to youthful attitudes and idealism will be more effective at motivation and inspiration. Sensitive parents listen to all sides of issues, letting the “accused” express his position or justification for his actions without overlooking the need for correcting poor attitudes. Wise parents look beyond youthful surface comments and try to perceive the child’s motive, which is, in most cases, to understand the adult world.

Discipline is what is done FOR a child, not what is done TO him. It is preventive action. Training a child for leadership requires consistency in love and discipline. By nature he rebels against controls that suppress his carnal desires. Unchecked by discipline, these desires will lead to a life of “pleasurable” activities but not productive achievement. Children mature best when supervised and trained by consistent, tough-minded people who realize that true love for children is best manifested by setting clear Biblical expectations and holding them accountable to conform to those expectations. Boundaries need to be in place for children in the form of rules of conduct, activity restraints, and dress standards. To allow “freedom” to experiment with careless social behavior is not love. Love is seeing the consequences of carelessness and placing the necessary controls to prevent harm from wrongdoing.

When a child neglects responsibilities, parents must respond promptly and appropriately. While the issue is still fresh on the child’s mind, parental instruction and correction are important. A parent’s angry scowl, sarcasm, or insulting glance sends the wrong message.

Discipline employs inward motivation to help the child mature and assume responsibilities while preserving his dignity. The response is more easily accomplished when discipline is conveyed with a loving expression in one’s eyes and tone of voice. The child then feels concern rather than frustration. Disciplining a child’s behavior should always have as its ultimate object guiding the child to become more Christlike.

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