Parenting through a Tantrum

This just in from the parenting “experts” on NBC’s Today Show: The way to solve child tantrums is to ignore them!

Who knew it was that easy?  Maybe this is the key to solving all our problems and unwanted conflicts in life – just stick your head in the sand.  Close your eyes and plug your ears and mumble under your breath to drown out the noise and pretend it’s not really there. 

Is this seriously advice coming from grown up “scientific” (their word, not mine) researchers?  They claimed during that segment, that thirty years of research have finally revealed to us what “works” (the ever-present language of utilitarianism) in parenting, especially when it comes to handling tantrums.  

Really?  Thirty years of sweaty lab coat technicians and all you can give us as parents is “Ignore your children”?  This is a joke, right?  The experts said to use “positive reinforcement” and to praise your way through a tantrum.  What, pray tell, is praiseworthy about a self-centered, egotistical raving mad fit? 

Friends, child neglect is killing us as a people and as a church.  Parenting God’s way rarely if ever involves you in ignoring selfish, sinful behavior.  The experts on the Today Show said tantrums are solely behavioral.  So, their solution is based solely on “what works” to adjust the outward behavior.  [These behavorial modification techniques are grounded solidly in atheisitc evolution, by the wayControl a child the same way you control a dogThat’s the idea.]   

But Jesus said we do what we do because of our inward corruption.  Our behavior flows from our hearts (Mark 7:14-23).  The question Christian parents must always ask is “Why is my child behaving/thinking/speaking this way?”  Parenting God’s way demands we ask the why question.  Parenting God’s way also demands we teach and train our children to also ask the why question of their own hearts.  The Book of Proverbs is one big example of this Divinely ordained technique in action.  Why do you think the kingly Dad of Proverbs tells his son, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he”?   

In training our children to probe their own hearts, using the Holy Scriptures, we are ministering the gospel to them.  For, as they continually come to see the ugliness within themselves, and compare that filth with the holiness of God, our children will despair of ever obtaining God’s favor through mere “behavior modification.”  And, when it comes to the gospel and the eternal souls of our children, despair is a good thing.  It is despair that parents, pastors, and others can use to drive children to the foot of the cross!

So, rather than ignore that tantrum, why not do it the way the Perfect Parent says to do it? 

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him (Prov. 22:15).

Heeding this counsel will prove much more beneficial to your child.  This parenting technique is “what works” in God’s eyes!  This kind of parenting will address both the outward behavior (after all, children throw tantrums because they want attention.  So, pay attention to their backsides with a few crisp swats!) and the inward corruption which is driving the behavior.  Do you see how this one simple proverb demands that parents train their children by both physical discipline that changes behaviors, as well as by showing them the foolishness that is binding their hearts

Parenting God’s way is not for the timid or lazy.  Ignoring sin in your children is easy.  Letting them go their own way takes no effort.  This is precisely what today’s parenting gurus told American Dads and Moms to do.  But here’s what Sovereign God says:

He who withholds the rod of correction hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently (Prov. 13:24).

As with everything else in life, it comes down to this, parents – who or what is your authority?  Today’s researchers and psychiatrists may know how to modify outward behavior.  But only God can “search the heart” (Jeremiah 17:10).    

*View the Today Show clip here:

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Tom Adams - I want to help you turn away from darkness. Please read the book “Christlike Parenting” for the sake of your soul.

In the Bible, “the rod” sometime means the shepard’s rod of guidance, as in the 23rd Psalm.

I am not sparing the rod with you, please take heed of my guidance.

tlbcassocpastor - Thanks for the exhortation, Tom. May I exhort you to read Tedd Tripp’s “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” or “To Train Up a Child” by Michael Pearl as it may guide you to a deeper understanding that “rod of correction” means more than you are claiming. Having spent a few weeks among shepherds in both Israel and Macedonia, I can assure you they still use those rods for true discipline and correction, too! Hebrews 12 says “For the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives. Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons . . . no discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it, however.”

I encourage you to be an “imitator of God” who is the Perfect Parent. God’s discipline is obviously painful and often involves suffering. This is why Proverbs says in relation to not sparing the rod, “do not spare for his crying.” I am not and the Bible is not advocating abuse. But rather, godly, Spirit-controlled physical discipline always alongside godly, loving communication that aims at the heart of the child.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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