The Heart of the Problem: Creative Discipline

The Heart of the Problem: Creative Discipline

Last week I shared on Facebook about my boys having trouble doing their chores.  Two of my guys just weren’t doing them they way I had told them to, so after a couple of weeks of not getting on top of it I decided to take steps to make some changes.

I sat them down and told them that there would be no playing or entertainment for 3 days.  During that time they would do extra chores and if there wasn’t work for them they would read (a book I gave them, not just superhero stuff).  We were diligent about it and for one of the boys it worked.  He’s been doing great with his chores and is back to normal.  Easy.

But for the other one, not so much.  He has something, way down inside, that just doesn’t want to budge.  He was doing what I told him, but his heart wasn’t in it.

So we will have to dig a little deeper with him.  It’s all good, just part of parenting.  I have remained calm and cheerful and loving through it all.  I want that to be the message here….it’s a GOOD thing.  Just because it’s hard or maybe even feels impossible doesn’t mean it’s bad or that you aren’t doing a good job.  You can do this!  Hang in there and be glad for the opportunity to help your child overcome a problem.

In this case, it’s obviously not just a bad habit, but he’s holding back.  I can’t make him want to do what he’s supposed to; only God can do that.  But I can do things that will point him in that direction. So I have to get creative and think of ways to draw out his heart and help him desire to do what he is supposed to do.

Here’s the plan for what to do next: In addition to all of his chores he will do all of mine with me.  Laundry, making beds, cleaning bathrooms, whatever.  If I’m working-he’s working.  That way he is with me and we can talk and build our relationship.  It’s an opportunity to teach him how to do the work plus it keeps him from entertaining himself too much.

I will add Bible verses to each day.  I am using the “Jesus Calling” devotional, so I will just use those verses (no reason to make more work for myself!).  We’ll read them together, he will recite it to me then he will write it in whatever artistic way he wants and we’ll hang it on the fridge.  In other words, not just scribbling it on a piece of paper, but working to make it lovely.  All day long I’ll ask him what the verse is and we’ll talk about how God can use those Words in our lives.

The last thing I plan to do is get him good and tired.  Kids today sit around and don’t use their energy, they get bored and that gives room for sin.  I will have him do some laps in the yard, maybe toss a ball.  If I can think of reasons for him to be running that’s better, but if I can’t then it’s just generally running around.  I’ll make some kind of game out of it.  Being tired is good for you.  Especially a little boy.

I made this plan by thinking about what the core of the problem is

1. He’s being selfish
2. He’s looking for entertainment too much
3. He doesn’t want to work

Then I thought about how to redirect him

1. Selfishness needs God’s Word
2. Seeking entertainment needs to have no entertainment at all for a while (as in no movies, no computer games, etc.)
3. Not wanting to work needs MORE work than normal PLUS being tired so you can see how nice it feels to use your body every day.

And through it all he needs to see that no matter how bad it gets I still love him and am glad to be around him.  That never changes.  He is always my delight. That’s what God gives to me, so I want to model that for my children.

The thing to remember moms, is it’s not about having perfectly behaved children or a well-run home.  It’s about joyfully using the issues that arise to direct the path of your children and train them in the way they should go.

Come hang out with me on Facebook for updates on how it’s going.



  1. I love this Lisa!

    Getting to the heart of the matter is what helps them to gain insight as to why they do what they do, and helps them deal with it.

    The love makes them open to hearing what you are trying to teach them.

  2. This is excellent advice, Lisa P~. A really great post. It’s my prayer that it is an answer to a young mother’s prayer today, too.


  3. You, Lisa, are the mom-bomb! Wow! I have seen issues like this with my oldest, but never knew exactly how to address them. This is a great plan. I like the scripture thing, because God’s word is powerful to change. And I like having them work with you. I need to do that more. Not just give more work, but glue him to my side. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with a mom who needs to hear wisdom!

  4. Again, I just love you! 🙂

  5. There you go, Lisa. You’ve nailed it. I write and speak about spiritual disciplines, which are things we do with our bodies to put us in a position so that God has room to work in our hearts. Changing our hearts is God’s work. Making ourselves available and open to God is our work. Just so, in this approach to disciplining your boy, you’re putting him a position that will work with his body rather than against it–and you’re making space for God to work in his heart. 🙂

    • Richella, I didn’t know that about you. I speak about these things also….we should team up our efforts. 🙂 Thanks for your comment; I respect your opinion. Lisa~

  6. I like the plan you have for the tough guy, but initially you make them READ if they don’t do their chores? You’re making reading a punishment when it contributes to the success of every academic subject and life skill. I passionately disagree with you in chosing to associate the two – and it doesn’t matter that it’s not superhero stuff. Perhaps we agree to disagree, but as an educator, I think that’s a mistake.

    • Jane, none of this is punishment. It is about learning to be disciplined and reading is a wonderful discipline. You are so right! It is vital to the success of education and life skill. I am glad you made that point.

      Since we homeschool, reading is a huge part of our family life and many times when I need the kids to stay occupied while I take care of other work they will read. While he is reading he is still enjoying it, but it needs to be a school book or something that is not pure entertainment. I hope he enjoys this time….I’m not trying to take away the pleasure of reading….in fact I am encouraging it!

      Thanks for your comment, Lisa~

      • I still disagree. You tell the kids no playing or entertainment for 3 days; instead they must do extra chores or read. The indirect message is reading is not playing or entertainment – and as parents, we need to foster reading being both play *and* entertainment. Just because the message is indirect doesn’t mean they don’t hear it.

        “You don’t get to play, you have to read instead” – how is that not creating the idea that reading is a consequence for not achieving the desired behavior? And, if they love reading, why would they do chores to begin with?

        Think of it this way: “If you don’t do your chores, you DON’T get to read.” Would you ever say that? We did – it was incredibly effective. This was when reading was us reading to them because they were too young. We still read together & share what we think about stories and make recommendations to each other. Reading IS play and entertainment.

        • Jane, I do understand what you are saying. I have definitely taken reading away when it was the problem. I don’t know if you are a homeschooler or not, but we have challenges that are unique. Besides every day having to read at home because it is a part of our school day, I must have a way to occupy the younger children when I have to do things by myself. Taking a shower, sewing, working on the blog, etc all are times I need the children to do something on their own.

          What would you have them do? Stare at the wall for half an hour? Reading during that time is a blessing and they see it that way. They are thrilled to be able to read anytime. The message is that even when we are being super strict with our discipline we don’t take reading away because it is that important.

          I can attest that 3 of my children are adults and they have a love for reading (as do all of my younger ones). Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I love a wholesome discussion. Have a wonderful day, Lisa~

  7. Lisa, you are supermom. Seriously. You always inspire me. Thanks for sharing this. I need to print it and hang it on my fridge. But my printer is broken so I am making mental notes:)

  8. I really really really needed this today! Actually, I needed this like 5 months ago, but anyway…

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  9. Hmm, l feel like a whole new way of parenting has been opened up to me here. I often tell you I am not great in the disciplinary department, but this seems so logical and gives me some examples of ways I can incorporate similar teachings in my own home. Thank you friend 🙂

  10. I love the way you come up with creative ways to discipline your kids. I also have Nine kiddos and find that coming up with something practical that works and being consistent afterwards is really challenging . I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for a while and I feel like we have a lot in common. Blessings to you and your beautiful family!

  11. Good rich points here! Our society loves teaching our children that they are “entitled” to be entertained. OH MAN, ask me how much that gets on my nerves. I love that your sole focus is to draw the child closer to God and His Word, and with love tying your child’s heartstrings to home & total dependency on Christ. Wonderful!

  12. Lisa, you are so gracious (and so imaginative!) in your choices. Such a lot in this post for me to mull over 🙂

  13. Lisa, where were you when I needed you… when I was raising my son? Oh, that’s right, you probably weren’t even born yet! 😉 You show such wisdom & creativity in the way you deal with your kids. I love the way you always bring the focus around to God… & to say you are gracious, is an understatement! You always show such class & the love of Christ, even when under fire. It is one of your many admirable traits. <3 🙂

  14. Do you implement spankings, timeout, sentence writing (e.g. “I will argue with mom.”) and for what behavior do you use them for? I would LOVE to hear a simple list of house rules and their consequences for children 1-10. (And older children for future refrence).

  15. I meant to type: I will NOT argue^ hahahaha ha! Sorry, fat fingers, auto correct and iPads don’t mix well!