Discipline. Just to mention the word sounds harsh. Why is that? Perhaps its harsh image comes from the distorted definition that society has placed on it. Society portrays discipline as punishment that involves anger, yelling, and severe or even cruel acts.
Many parents today have bought into society's definition of discipline. Because they relate the word to negative training, they would rather tolerate their children's behaviour than correct it. Those who do attempt to establish standards tend to miss the hearts of their children. They simply try to control their children, focusing only on their outward behaviour. They have adopted the philosophy that if they can get their children to act right, then they are raising them the right way.
The Bible teaches that behaivour is not the basic issue. The basic issue is always what is going on in the heart. Matt 7:21-22. The 'from within' part of this verse tells us that outward behaviours are only the manifestations of the real problem, which lie in the heart. The Bible uses the heart to speak of the inner you.
The heart is the control center of life. Luke 6:45. Behaviour is simply what alerts you to your child's need for correction. But don't make the mistake that so many parents make and allow your desire for changed behaviour to replace your desire for a changed heart. If you can reach the heart, the behaviour will take care of itself. Keep in mind that it is possible to cause your child to change his irritating behaviour to that which is acceptable without an actualy heart change taking place.
If we are to really help our children, we must work backward from the behaviour to the heart. We must be concerned with the attributes of the heart that drive this behaviour. We do this by communicating with our children in such a way that they are caused to not only understand a Christ-like attitude, but they learn how to flesh it out in their lives.