We all understand the role of discipline in creating a successful journey through life. Yet, many parents struggle with teaching discipline to their kids. In part two of this series, I will discuss the role of parental discipline in forming the glue that binds the ‘Outside Game’ of parenting together.

When we as parents lack discipline, we can only talk about it. We can’t teach through our actions. It’s certainly possible for children to learn about self-discipline when we are undisciplined, but not likely.

In contrast, as a disciplined parent, you can teach lessons that the undisciplined parent struggles to teach. The reasons are likely obvious, but we cover the details below.

Parental Discipline Promotes Child Discipline, Or The Lack Thereof

1. Children Learn From What You Model

An undisciplined parent models undisciplined behavior. By undisciplined behavior, I am referring to a wide range of possibilities that could include eating, exercise, working, and relationship habits. This could also include a lack of discipline in how I conduct myself regarding my emotions and the language I use. The lack of discipline could be reflected in my inability to maintain a consistent structure or routine in the home.

Or, I might model an environment where I repeatedly say I’m going to do things, and then I don’t. I might model treating the people that I love worse than anyone else on the planet. I might model that being frustrated is an excuse to yell and scream. There are unlimited possibilities here. Suffice it to say that the undisciplined parent has limitless opportunities to model the very UNWANTED actions they do not want their child to learn.

On the opposite side of this coin, the disciplined parent repeatedly models effective ways to get results. There is constant teaching that is infused in their daily lives. We don’t have to talk about this much as the evidence is evident in the daily habits that demonstrate our discipline habits.

Just remember: You can’t escape what you model.

2. Children Learn to Respond to What Tugs at You

I’m referring to a straightforward principle. When we are undisciplined and have developed unhealthy habits, we often respond (without much thought) to whatever tugs at our attention. What is it that keeps getting your attention? I encourage parents to pay close attention to this important choice.

An absolute fundamental of effective parenting is understanding that annoying, irritating, inappropriate, disrespectful, complaining, whining, argumentative, and problematic behavior (of all forms) pull for our attention. If, over time, we consistently respond to this, problems worsen. We react rather than pause and think.

Problems worsen because our children learn to respond to what we give attention to. If we remain reactive, they keep moving toward those behaviors that pull us to react. Remember: what we consistently attend to must grow. It’s a rule of life. What gets your repeated attention will expand, but only 100% of the time! Thus, your child’s brain will inevitably bring you more and more of what you allow to capture your attention and energy.

3. Children Learn from Consequences, Not the Threat of Consequences

An effective Outside Game requires an understanding of how reality works. One core component is that choice comes with consequences. A disciplined parent knows the importance of accountability, so the family runs on an understanding that kids can make choices, and these come with consequences.

When limits are set by mom or dad, the disciplined parent upholds those limits by having consequences when the limits are disregarded. This is not typically a problem for disciplined parents because they understand that children must test limits to learn from experience. They do not expect their children to learn from threats of consequences and thus are not angry or reactive.

Such families also understand the role of consistency so the limits do not shift or change. They are there for the children, and predictability creates stability in the home.

The undisciplined parent often sets limits but fails to enforce these limits with clear consequences. The limits may also change based on how the mom or dad feels today. Their idea of consequences tends to be verbal threats, yelling, and reactive anger.

On other days, the undisciplined parent tends to be soft, sloppy, and sometimes just lazy. It’s like there are no limits or consequences, and children get confused by such inconsistencies. Such a model does not reflect reality, and this lack of consistency always fails children in the long run.

Summary: What’s easy in the short term is usually trouble in the long run. When you take the sloppy, undisciplined path, it’s easier for sure. But only for a while. The accumulated effects of how we raise children are always revealed in our children’s character as they mature. And the value of a clear, disciplined home is a life of consistency and predictability for a child. This is a robust platform for a life of productivity, ease, and satisfaction.