There are two main ways that you can obtain obedience from your children: if they fear you, or if they respect you.

Using the fear approach, parents spank their children for misbehavior and children come to fear the spankings and they learn to obey parents without question. This is very effective … for a while. Because the learning is based only on fear of spanking, it only works to control the child’s behavior around that parent. If the child is in a situation where they know they cannot be spanked (like school) there is no carry-over of learning. Unless, of course, the spanking parent supports the school 100% and the child is spanked for every misbehavior at school as well.

However … spanking teaches that when people do wrong you should hit them. Kids do manage to learn that lesson and when people wrong them, they hit them, and as a result, probably get spanked. That’s all very confusing. Confused children get angry or depressed and neither is able to do his schoolwork appropriately and, as a result, probably gets spanked. Spend a couple years that way and you either become hopelessly depressed and turn to something self-destructive for comfort (like drugs or sex), or you become enraged and seek to destroy people and things around you.

Then something funny happens … the kid gets to be as big as you are. End of effectiveness. That is going to be the kid that hits back when you try to slap them for having a sassy mouth. That’s going to be the kid that has to run away from home because they know they’re going to punch your lights out next time you raise your hand to them. Not a good scene.

There are parents that argue that you aren’t being “strict” enough if you don’t spank. Again, not true. Being strict merely means that you have firm, clear, reasonable expectations and that there are positive consequences for meeting those expectations and negative consequences for not meeting them. I have met lots of parents who spank frequently that are not strict at all. They might spank for a particular offense today, but not a week from now or they might spank severely for a minor offense and completely overlook a more serious offense. Spanking does NOT make you strict. Consistency does.

The other way to gain obedience from a child is if he respects you. When the child is young, he will not understand the concept. When you don’t allow him to do something dangerous, he’s going to be upset and he’s not going to “respect” you as a result. However, if you consistently protect your child from harm, he will learn to trust you and that is the foundation of respect.

As your child matures, when he misbehaves, there should be negative consequences that he’s not very happy about. However, if the consequences are reasonable and they fit the offense, the child will be upset while he is suffering the consequence, but will get over it quickly if it was truly fair and reasonable. He will not hold it against you. It does not have to be ridiculously horrible for it to work. It just has to be clear, consistent, and reasonable. If consequences are predictable, that builds further trust. Your child knows exactly what you are going to do when he screws up. As a result, he trusts you more.

Once the child gets old enough or large enough that you really don’t have much control over him anymore, this form of discipline still works because it hasn’t involved intimidation. Your child trusts that you will consequence bad behavior and although he’ll complain and try to get out of it, he won’t really stay angry at you because he already knows you are fair.

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