Saturday, 20 November 2010


Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 (Today's New International Version)

There are times when you have to say NO to your child and that is perfectly ok. As they grow and learn about themselves they need to know the guidelines for their behaviour and look to you for direction. You have to set the limits for them: you can’t jump on the furniture, no more television today, you must put your seat belt on in the car, you must hold my hand when we cross the street.

A nurturing parent says NO in a clear, honest way, finding the right time and making sure not to embarrass their child. It is best , however, to avoid the temptation to justify your NO by lecturing on why you are saying NO. I fell foul of this the other day when I said NO to Molly, and then ranted on for ten minutes about why I thought she shouldn’t be allowed to do something. At the end of my tirade she then said “I hear you are saying NO Mum, but your lecturing is not going to make me like your decision!” I then realised that often justifying my NO opened the door for more conversation and needless arguing. I was then reminded that Jesus said, in Matthew 5:37, ‘all you need to say is simply yes, or no!

To be able to say NO appropriately you have to be honest with your child, following the same guidelines yourself that you set for them. If you don’t want them to swear, then don’t swear yourself; if you don’t want them to smoke, then don’t smoke yourself; if you don’t want your child to shout at you, then don’t shout at them. Only then can your child follow your example.
Use your NO as a tool for teaching and guiding. Avoid being overly permissive, allowing your child to do whatever they please. When your child is misbehaving, they need your help to get themselves under control. Strive for agreeable limits and creative solutions for each child. You are not being mean when you discipline this way – you are doing yourself, and them, a service. The goal of discipline is self discipline. Children thrive on knowing their boundaries, feel security from them and through them learning how to guide themselves – a strength they can then take into adulthood.

Lord Jesus, thank you for our children. Please help us to discipline them with love, give us the courage of our convictions to stick to our NO when we say it. Thank you for setting us the best example, you are slow to anger and rich in love, you are gracious and compassionate – help us to be the same with our children. Amen xxx

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