Teaching Values through Discipline that Reaches the Heart

Welcome back to my 10 Days of Teaching Values in your homeschool series! Today I’m writing about instilling values in your children through character building discipline that reaches the heart of the matter.

Character building discipline is the kind that helps children see the reasons behind stinky behavior and why change is a good thing.

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I’ll be the first to admit that heartfelt discipline is not my strongest parenting skill. It’s way easier to demand a child stop doing something “because I said so” than it is to take time to reach the heart of why our family doesn’t act a certain way. It’s also easier to send everyone to timeout (for my sanity) than it is to stop everything for a family meeting to discuss what’s going on and what we can do to fix it.

Those things are easier, but they don’t ever build anything more in my children than thoughts that I’m too busy and too frustrated to care about their problems.

You know, I just said all those things are easier, but in reality they aren’t at all easier. They are only easier for the moment – until I have to deal with the same behavior issue 20 more times this week (or this day!) 

Character Building Discipline Makes a Difference

Every single time I’ve instead taken the time to get to the heart of a discipline issue right away, it’s pretty much been nipped in the bud. In other words, there is no time for my children to form bad habits from my lazy discipline.

Character building discipline is the kind that helps children see the reasons behind stinky behavior and why change is a good thing.

When I stop and get to the root of the behavior, I have the awesome opportunity to mold the hearts, minds, and souls of my children with values that are important to our family. I get to talk about what God expects from us and point them to the Word. I let them know that I really do care them!

And, usually, when I’m having a heart to heart discussion about behavior, I’m doing it with a much better attitude. This kind of discipline becomes my privilege rather than my frustration. It becomes a teaching opportunity rather than everyone waiting for the warts to start growing on my witch’s nose.

How to Get to the Heart of Discipline

Just what do I do to get to the heart of the behavior?  Different situations mean different approaches, but this is my general plan of action.

  • Get eye level with the child(ren) and ask what’s going on?

When I’m eye level, there is trust that I’m there to help rather than harshly discipline.

  • Talk about behavior that would have been better to choose in the same situation.

I usually ask, “What did you do that we need to talk about?” and “What could you have done differently?”

  • Talk about what God tells us in His Word about the positive behavior vs. the negative behavior.

If I don’t know off the top of my head what the Bible says, there are a couple of resources I use – For Instruction in Righteousness and Doorposts.  (See below.)

  • Decide what needs to be done to fix the situation.

Sometimes, a simple apology is in order.  Other times a consequence is in order.  I try to match the consequence with the offense, at the same time allowing my older children to help decide the consequence. (See a few examples below.)

Character Building Discipline Helpers

Two tried and true (and highly recommended) resources that have helped me understand the concept of discipline that reaches the heart are:

Shepherding a Child's HeartDon't Make Me Count to Three


Two resources that have helped me bring the Word into my discipline are:

For Instruction in Righteousness: A Topical Reference Guide for Biblical Child-TrainingThe


Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing the nitty-gritty of how I use For Instruction in Righteousness in our home. This is such a wonderful book!

You might like to read about our Peace Place, too.

Like I said, I have a lot of growing room in this area! I’ll be praying about and making a better effort to reach the heart of discipline in the days and weeks to come. How about you?

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  1. Great Biblical advice! I agree For Instructions in Righteousness is a wonderful resource to turn to address specifics. Love how it is organized. All the wisdom we ever need is in His word. Enjoying your series and looking forward to the practicals you’ll share next week. And, yes, joining you in prayer!

  2. Great post, Cindy. Thanks for the encouragement. Do you find that the “closeness” of home education leads to more bickering among sibs? This is something we are struggling with quite a bit lately. We just seem to really get on eachother’s nerves and because we are together so much, sometimes we feel smothered (at least I do, anyway!).
    I saw above the consequence of doing a chore together for not getting along. How well does this work for you? Do you have any other ideas for promoting sibling harmony? I grew up an only child, now I’m Mom to 4-ages 15, 13, 11, 8. Not having siblings myself, I don’t have a frame of reference and it really irritates me to see my kids being unkind to each other.
    I appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks!
    p.s. I love your picture choices. I was thinking about having stocks and cages installed in the back yard! 🙂

  3. Allison,

    Yes! There are definitely extra challenges for homeschooling siblings (and moms) who are around one another all the time. However, when we work hard on the character of getting along, such sweet, sweet relationships result.

    For sure the sibling chores work in my house. In fact, I’ve been known to make one sweep while the other holds the dust pan. Talk about necessary team work! Besides chores, I’ve also made the offenders sit in two kitchen chairs directly in front of each other with knees touching (and sometimes hand holding) until both parties can genuinely laugh together. While each person HATES this in the beginning, it always results in fits of laughter. It might take 15 minutes (or more) of sitting there, but that’s no skin off my back! ;o)

    I ALWAYS nip sibling tiffs in the bud ASAP. My children are not allowed to yell at one another, push, hit, etc. – ever. Any hint of this ends in immediate action from my end. I’m lazy about some other moments of discipline, but this one I keep a handle on. I want my kids to be each others’ best friends, so I talk about the importance of that a lot. We started reading Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends not too long ago. We didn’t finish it because of too many other books going on at the same, but what we read was very good (and it’s highly recommended.) It’s probably perfect for the ages of your children, too.

    I hope others will read this and comment, too!

    I’m glad you “got” the photos I posted. I wondered if anyone would. HaHa

  4. Thanks for the great ideas, Cindy. I have wanted to get that book for a while. I never considered it as a read-aloud. Hmm… maybe a good option for the holiday break.
    I will let you know how it goes. Keep up the great posts! I love following your blog.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

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