Giving grace to your kids often accompanies discipline. Discipline is a hard line to walk with any kid and you have to find your own path. You have to be you and match up with your kid. What follows is advice from a Dad that often comes down too hard kid, so he needs to be able to emotionally connect with his kid. Grace builds empathy and empathy is all about emotional connection, so let me just tell you about me.
Now, in our house I am the hammer. My son hits the boundaries I put up hard. They are fair and consistent, but he likes to hit them full-speed. This leads to a lot of tears. My son has so many emotions. Side note: I hear my daughter’s emotions will blow me away, so I am getting my safety harness ready. But when the timeout or spanking is over I work really hard to connect with him. Sometimes this results in more timeouts or harsher discipline, but it’s important to me that he knows I am for him. I always take the time to look him in the eye and talk to him about what just happened. That last piece, looking him in the eye is key for us. I don’t know why, but it communicates that I respect him enough to hear him out. He gets to talk
Now I don’t have teenagers or elementary schoolers, but I can only imagine what eye contact with them will do. It is almost as if you provide this subtle clue that you think they are worth something. That they are a person too.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who doesn’t look you in the eye? It is terrible, and you know that person doesn’t respect or value you more than whatever else they are doing. How much more important is eye contact then when we give grace? It is almost as if it is essential to grace because it lets the other person know that you are present and are ready to treat them with dignity.
Do you know how I reach my son’s eye level? Well, our timeout spot is on the floor which means I have to sit on the floor with him in my lap. Usually, to start he doesn’t want to look at me. Usually, he is ashamed because he knows what he did wrong. But I get down to him. I humble myself to his level and then he knows can talk to me. It works every time that I take the time.
Don’t think I figured this out all on my own. This is simply what God does with us all the time. Discipline wrapped in empathy leads beyond just a behavior change to a heart.