Friday, May 23, 2008

Church discipline

For all our talk about how wonderfully "spiritual" our children are, we got a call today from the Children's Church director telling us how many comments she's gotten from various teachers about our children's behavior.
Apparently, they have the same listening and behavioral issues at church as they do at home.
In other words, often wild, obnoxious, and out-of-control.
So we had a serious talk with them, through which they both repeated "Yeah" every few sentences. Caleb confessed to getting up for a drink when the teacher told him not to. Other specific issues were not claimed. But our solution - we'll see if it's that - was to give them an ultimatum: Either they behave or they get to sit in "big church" with us for the hour. Being that they're affecting the other kids' ability to learn, we both agreed that this was a good solution.
I'm also well aware that when they're alone, they are two very different people!
Another option would be to have them take turns - one week, Caleb goes, and the next week, Sam goes.
We also need to let the teacher each week know that it's okay to discipline them a bit - i.e. not giving them the snack when they misbehave. Knowing their love for snacks, this one might end up being the most effective.
Let me know if you have any other ideas....
And pray for us! Our first call like this and they're not even in school yet!


Grammasue said...

In our efforts to be the best parents we can be, we try "time outs", withholding privileges, and all kinds of other "creative" punishments to discipline our children. However nowhere in the Scriptures can I find support for these means. God makes it very clear what we are to do!
Yep! Thats right!.....SPANK the little Darlings!
"Folly [ie wild obnoxious behavior] is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him." Proverbs 22.15
Proverbs 13.24, 23.13-14, & 29.15 tell us that if we love our kids we need to punish them, with the rod, and don't worry, it won't kill them!
It seems we will try anything to avoid causing our precious little ones pain, but God's Word tells us that discipline is PAINFUL! "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12.10
In your situation, specifically, what were the consequences of the negative behavoir? None, really. A talk and an ultimatum for future problems, but nothing for the current issue at hand. Perhaps a talk followed by a sound paddling would have been a more effective, loving and Godly method.
Are you sending the right message about God's House when sitting in church is a punishment? And when they misbehave there and disturb the congregation?????
Removing them from the situation seems more of an avoidance than a solution. Wouldn't it be better to let them continue until they learn the proper behavoir? When you get a negative report from the teachers, they suffer the consequences--a painful spanking-- which would seem to be a much more effective deterrent than missing a snack or sitting in "big" church.
Like following Jesus, spanking isn't always easy and certainly not popular, but is nonetheless God's answer to how we handle discipline problems.

Sarah said...

Believe me, we are far from being against spanking. But in order for discipline to be effective at all, a little creativity must be used (or they would constantly have bleeding bottoms from the amount of spankings they would get for all their misbehavior). Being that the naughtiness has happened over a period of weeks, maybe even months, we felt that we needed to talk with them about it and make them aware of their undesirable behavior and give them a chance to change it before disciplining them. This past Sunday actually went really well - and they both remembered the lesson - that was evidence right there of a change in behavior.

Sitting in church I guess would preferably be thought of as a "discipline" rather than a punishment. And they can control themselves for a half hour in there without bothering others. Like I said, the main problem is that they're together, so a few weeks of them taking turns going to children's church would also be highly effective, if needed. At this point, we may have taken care of it, I don't know.
And also, spanking IS the easy way for me, because it doesn't take much creativity on my part, and because that's what I naturally want to do when they misbehave - not good. This should be done lovingly and NOT in anger. And if it can't be done lovingly, it shouldn't be done at all.
So many factors.

Molly said...

And besides, spanking doesn't always produce results for every child. I assure you that withholding a snack would be more affective for some of my children than a spanking ever would. Or for my more social children, they'd rather be spanked than be removed from an opportunity to be with their friends.
And really, the teacher must have a means to discipline a child while the parents aren't there, and they certainly aren't about to spank someone else's kid these days!
Our homeschool co-op has strict behavior expectations and before the children are allowed to be included in the classroom, they must agree to proper behavior. There are also very clear disciplinary steps that are listed in the "code of conduct." Children and parents are expected to sign the document upon enrollment. It helps when parents and youth are given clear expectations and teachers are given clear steps for dealing with issues.
Sarah and Brian, I think you've handled the situation well. Sometimes I find that kids mis-behave most in the places they feel most comfortable. Perhaps it's a good sign. :)

Jennifer Mulvihill said...

Oh Sarah! I have had the joy of teaching preschool sunday school and calling a mom or two, myself! What if you had the boys make apology cards for thier teacher and personally tell her that they're sorry. Maybe the actual act of asking for forgiveness will remind them of their need to be obedient.

Another idea would be to come up with a specific plan. For example, you get one warning and then we will get your mom. No excuses. You then will be able to maintain discipline of your boys, but they will still be able to attempt being a part of sunday school. (Warn, redirect, discipline!)

Sarah said...

Part of the issue is that there is not a consistent teacher. There's an 8-week rotation of teachers. Personally, I think this is a huge mistake, and here is an example of why. Because each teacher is not in there for a block of weeks, if they run into behavioral problems, they just suck it up and put up with it rather than dealing with it. Even when we'd pick the boys up after the class, they'd always say the boys had done fine - the call was the first we'd heard about any misbehavior. So that's a bit frustrating. But we do figure that with specific permission given from the parent that yes, you may discipline my child if you need to, things might go better.
We also have a pager because of Noah being in the nursery, so them knowing that we want to be contacted for behavior issues would help too.
Thanks for the ideas!