CHARACTER NURTURING: Tangible Ways to Discipline (part 4 of 4)


I feel like I just wrote a chapter in a book so might I suggest reading this in doses or getting a nice cup of coffee and settling in!

Writing about things I have not experienced is something I try to stay away from. Logically, one would lack in wisdom if one has not gone through the valley.

The valley of disciplining children 7-years-old and younger well… I’m there.

If you would humor me, I’d love to share what has worked for our family… some of the time.

In Part 3, we discussed what God says about love, but before I tell you the tangible things we do here in the Moderate Household, I’d like to touch the surface of “law” and “grace”.

Our lives are made up of many seasons, which means, there are going to be seasons of character nurturing.

At first, just like the Old Covenant (Law) in the Old Testament, our children have to be made aware of what good character is.

How can one know if one is not told?

So, just as the purpose of the Law then was to make man see what God’s character is and that man falls short, so is the Law required in the early stages of discipline.

How to live lovingly sometimes has to be shown with rules first.

Don’t hit

Don’t yell

Don’t call your brother a ” poop face bottom”

Don’t whine/get upset while waiting (patience is waiting without whining/getting upset)

Don’t trick people (manipulate)

blah blah blah… the list goes on.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s all Law and no Grace. I believe you can’t show love without grace, so, grace is not an option!!

One example of grace, in these early years, is giving your child choices. I learned early on that I’m not in full control of my children, nor do I truly want to be.

Ultimately… they have the freedom to choose the consequence… every stinkin’ time.

On those days, I need a Venti Starbucks!!!

So, just as God gives me the grace to make some of my own choices, knowing I might make the wrong ones, I then must give the same grace to my children.

SIDE-NOTE: Allow your child to have a choice in as much as you can. It might make the day longer BUT it teaches them to take ownership of their decisions and that their “voice” is valued. This will develop an adult who is confident, not only to make loving choices, but who will confidently admit when they didn’t make a loving choice.

Our children must learn to take ownership for themselves before they leave our homes or they will become an adult who blames all their crap on others! And aren’t those people a joy to be around!!

Areas you can give a choice might be…

  • what veggie they want for dinner
  • what show they’d like to watch
  • what activity they’d like to do.

Give them 2 options to choose from or you might be there all day!!! Too many options is overwhelming.

I’m overwhelmed just picking out mascara!!!

Another example of grace, in the early years, is allowing our children to have a bad day.

Oh my, can I have a bad day. For no reason at all, I wake up and it would do the world a great service if I just stayed in bed.

Our children are no different!

Now if one, or all of my children, wake up and are just “not themselves” I…

  • take a step back
  • cut some “unimportant” things out of my day
  • give them room to be human.

That doesn’t mean I allow them to be unkind to their siblings or rude to me, but I try my best to make it a mellow day…

  • movies
  • coloring
  • reading
  • time alone in their rooms to play, etc.

I’ll “overlook” a quick tone of voice, knowing that’s not their normal heart towards me but they are just feeling “yuck” for some reason! And I get on my knees that night and pray that tomorrow will be better!!

At some point, or so I’ve been told by my mama friends with older children (these ladies are PRICELESS!!), I will move out of a law-based discipline to a grace-based discipline.

My children will know what loving character is and how it’s lived out. Then it will be their responsiblity to go out into the world (school, college, work etc.) and choose how they are going to live.

At that point, the world will hand out its consequences upon my children.

Lord, please allow the world’s consequences to come down swiftly upon my children before they get too deep into the muck!

And when the world gives them a hard hit across the face, I deeply hope my children will run to me and their daddy, knowing we are there to give them reckless love and support!! That is what the Father gave to the son who squandered all his daddy had blessed him with. That son was given the blessing to fall into open, grace-filled, loving arms (Luke 16)!

Lord may I receive the rich blessing of being those arms for my grown children one day!

Okay, okay Moderate Mama. I thought you said this was about “tangible discipline”?!

I did but I have one more thing I want to say before we get into that. I want to show how God disciplines us.

He is our Father and the best parenting book will always and forever be the Word of God.

  • OUR GOD IS A GOD OF GRACE: Like stated above, God loves us enough to let us have the gift of free will. He knows that us acting out of any motivation but love is useless, meaningless!
  • OUR GOD IS A GOD OF MERCY: There are times that God holds back His hand. For those of us covered by the blood of Christ, we know this in the area of eternity but also in the everyday life. Could you imagine if we were disciplined for every wrong thing we did. I think I’d hide… a lot!
  • OUR GOD IS A GOD OF REDEMPTION: We who are His children have been redeemed!! He does not leave us in the muck filled hole we dug ourselves into. He lovingly pulls us up, out of the pit and will one day welcome us into His throne room!! (EXTRA: did you know that the only creature who has ever entered God’s throne room is Satan? This was when Satan was God’s anointed cherub (Ez. 28), before his fall. We will be the ONLY other creatures who will have the, I can’t even put it into words, but let’s say, the AWESOME blessing of entering the Holy of Holies. The place that God, our Creator, dwells!)
  • OUR GOD IS A GOD OF AFFIRMATION: The Creator of the cosmos tells us that we are wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14), that we are pleasing to Him, that He loves us and one day He might look at us and say “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
  • OUR GOD IS A GOD OF REWARDS: Not only are be blessed with rewards here on earth, peace, love, fellowship, being used by God, etc. we will also receive rewards in heaven. Did you know that not everyone is going to hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25) Being praised publicly in heaven for our stewardship here on earth is a reward . There is also going to be property given out, leadership positions, crowns etc. There is a connection from this life on into eternity. All of us will be filled to the measure so none of us will be without, but some will be given more than others. Our Father motivates us with rewards
  • OUR GOD IS A GOD OF DISCIPLINE: God disciplines us, not to create these robots that will make His day easier if they would just submit to what He wants. No, He disciplines us because He knows what will lead to a joy filled life. A life worth living!!! Just like us with our children, we know, because we are hopefully wiser then they are, what choices might be best in life. We try to instill the character that would make those kinds of joy filled, love-rooted, choices. BUT when under our guidance (birth to whenever I’m not paying for their crap) they need to be lovingly disciplined in order to have that character built!

Okay, here comes the tangible stuff.

I share this information with a warning.

Not all plans of attack work for all families

or for every child within that family.

That’s why in Part 2, we addressed “knowing our children“.

But I would love to share somethings that work for us (7.628 times out of 10).

The first hurdle is knowing when your child is doing something out of innocence or out of willfulness.

I was told, “Sarah, you’ll just know!

I hated that answer because I was a ball of craziness who didn’t trust herself to drive on the highway with her child.

So let me frustrate you by saying, “Mama, you’ll just know!” And you will. There will be…

  • something extra in the look your child is giving you
  • something different in the motion of what they’re doing

This will tell you that you sweet, innocent, little Love is not so sweet and innocent anymore.

Honestly, it’s heart breaking!!

I’m not there with Youngest but I know that day is approaching fast!! With children under the age of 3, it’s hard to discipline.

I mean…

  • what do they understand?
  • what are they able to do (can they even sit in a timeout?)?
  • what should I focus on in the are area of character?
  • what is age appropriate?

I hate to tell you but I don’t know!!

You and your spouse have to sit down and decide IF your child is ready for discipline and HOW you are going to discipline in these early years.

  • time-outs
  • spankings
  • toy taken away
  • mixture of all
  • (add your own)

Find what works for you, your spouse and your child and be consistent!!


You will experience joy filled days when, you have stayed consistent, and see some fruit or a sprout!

Okay, here is what I promised…


ALL AGES: I am awful at this but it’s something that is so basic and so necessary. It drives me nuts that I still suck at it!!

When my child is doing something they’re not suppose to be doing, I need to…

  • present their choices (this counts as a warning)

Yelling at them is not only disrespectful but I can’t observe if they are actually listening to me.

It’s no wonder my children will freak out when I administer discipline for something that they didn’t even hear their warning because their mama is, in a nut shell, too lazy and tired to go to them.

Why in the world is this so hard to do?!

BIRTH-2ish: When our children started to be mobile and touched things they shouldn’t, all we felt could be done was to point and say, “No, No (sternly)” and either move them or move the item.

This worked well with Oldest and Middle. My youngest, well, let’s say all my end tables are bear right now!

No lamps,

No pictures,

No pretty.

The main issues we’ve experienced in the “innocence age” are tantrums, pulling hair, pulling glasses, and play hitting (I’m assuming they don’t know what they’re doing physically hurts)

Here is what we do…

  • PULLING HAIR, ETC… I say “No no!” If they keep doing it, I put them down. It does not take long for them to know that if they pull on my hair when I’m holding them, there will be separation.
  • TANTRUMS… If they throw a tantrum, I leave the room, separate myself, until they calm down. Again, the action equals separation!

When they crossed the threshold of innocence to wilfulness, we say “No No!” and thump their hand once (this is around 1 1/2 years old) Once our children know what a time-out is and have the ability to stay in a time-out, we do time-outs.

I thought this was about loving character nurturing?! Moderate Mama, you are a big liar and I’m never reading your blog again!!

Well, yes, this is about loving discipline but we have to be age appropriate.

I can not expect my 13 month old to understand, “Now honey, you aren’t showing love and in this house we are either going to love people or not have the blessing of being around people

Like stated before, there will be a time when law is what you teach.

Once your child is “of age” you can then have wonderful talks about life and loving others.

Here is how we dispense loving discipline

Discipline Steps

  1. Take your child to a private area (No one likes to be reprimanded in public. It’s disrespectful and embarrassing)
  2. Tell them you love them (We can NEVER tell them too much!!)
  3. (if old enough) Ask them why they chose to do XYZ (This is such an important stepAll of us want our side, our feelings to be heard and validated. OUR CHILDREN ARE NO DIFFERENT!! It’s the action they are being disciplined for. An example of validating a child’s feelings might look like this… “Love, I hear you and I know you are angry. Mama gets angry to sometimes but that doesn’t make it okay to hit your sister. God gave you these hands to love, to work and to protect!”)
  4. Explain why they’re being disciplined (Loving character has to be taught, here is another chance…  “Since you chose to hit because you got angry, you also chose ________.”)
  5. Administer Discipline (This needs to be agreed upon by you AND your spouse. Your child is both of yours!)
  6. Give hugs and kisses (lots and lots)
  7. Ask them to tell you again why they where disciplined, ask for an apology
  8. (if old enough) Ask them who chose to be unloving (This will teach them to take ownership of their actions. It’s was not your choice to discipline them, they chose it based on their action(s) example: “Love, who chose to hit? That’s right… you did. Who chose to get a ________? That’s right…. you did.”)
  9. Remind your child that you love them (“I love you! You are such a joy! I’m so happy God made me your mama! I’m so blessed that God made you my son/daughter! etc.”)
  10. Go about your day… have fun!!
  11. IF YOU CHOOSE TO SPANK… DO NOT SPANK IN ANGER… THIS IS A SIN AGAINST YOUR CHILD!!! (Sometimes disciplining by spanking has to be forfeited because we’re angry. Opt for a time out, I’m assuming separation is needed by both parties!)

2ish-4: At this point, a child should understand the act of discipline. Come 2-years-old, we want to start demonstrating the redemptive aspect of God’s love.

A child will have a deep hopelessness if they feel like they can’t be pulled out of the hole they are in. Adults feel the same way, it’s an anxious, strangling feeling.

So what we do is taken straight from Super Nanny.

Since our Father is a reward giver, I have no problem motivating my children with rewards.



(things you will need)

  • 1 Mason Jar (draw or tape a line towards the top)
  • 8-10 Ping Pong Balls
  • Edible Treats
  • At home activity they’d enjoy doing

BASIC IDEA: Your child puts a ball in whenever he/she makes a loving choice and he/she takes a ball out when they don’t make a loving choice. Once the balls hit the line, they’ve earned a reward (example: a sucker) If they didn’t make it to the line that day, let the ping-pong balls earned roll over to the next day.

A child has to feel a sense of accomplishment for a discipline plan to work!

The reason I suggest children 2-4 receiving their reward immediately is because a younger child will end up being confused.


SCREAMING AND HITTING AND ALAS… a loss of a ping-pong ball… bummer!

Now, if an activity can do done that day, at home, that’s cool!

4-10ish?: I have a question mark because my oldest is only 7. I’m hoping that by 10, my children will be ready for the next stage of character development.

They might not! I have no clue since I’m not there yet!! I’ll just have to asses each of them and see when they are ready for the next stage. I’ll let you know when I know!



Color/Points Discipline Plan

(things you will need)

  • Color/Point Chart: You can have as many colors as you want. We have 4 colors (10 points, 5 points, 2 points, and 0 points) because oldest was working on counting by those numbers. Younger children might do better with 1 point intervals (1 point, 2 points, 3 points etc)
  • Man/Woman: I just drew a stick figure of each child, poked a hole at the top, and strung yarn through
  • 4-6 Tacks: Put a tack in the middle of each color for man/woman to hang from
  • Color Your Square Chart: My children have to earn 100 points. If their chart is in 1 point intervals, you’ll want to make their goal much lower! I try to set each child’s goal to where they can reach it within 2 weeks. A child needs to have a sense of accomplishment in order for a discipline plan to work!
  • Jar
  • Popsicle Sticks: Sit down with your child and decide on activities they’d enjoy that fit with your household budget (money and time-wise)
  • Write activities on the sticks: Once an activity has been chosen, it is taken out of the jar. Some examples are: ice cream, go kick the soccer ball at the big fields, bounce house, park, swim, cookie at the mall, movie, etc))

BASIC IDEA: Each day is a redeemed, new day! Your child will start on the highest color/number. As the day goes on, for unloving choices they move their man/woman down and for loving choices, they move the man/woman up.

What ever color/point they end up on, they color in their color/point chart with that color.

We wait until the next morning because Middle is still working on not waking us up at night. If he makes a loving choice and doesn’t wake us up, he gets to move his man up in the morning, if he chooses to un-lovingly wake us up, he moves his man down.

EXTRA: In our home if you hit, kick etc. you go straight to “0” and you get a time out. If you are on “0” and you have to move you person down again… it’s 20 minutes of alone playtime in your room.

Being around others is a privilege… not a right!

If your actions have been so unkind that you go “past” 0, you lose the privilege of being around the family! This has really taught my children the social consequence of being a jerk!

Being a jerk = Being alone 

SIDE-NOTE: I don’t use the word “jerk” when I speak to them.

The children then color in their appropriate square as a part of their morning routine, then they move it back to the top since, again, it’s a NEW day!


For our point system, once they’ve earned 100 points, they get to pick an activity from their activity jar. My husband and I do our very best to hold up our end of the deal within a weeks time.

We also take turns doing their chosen activity with them. This helps keep us accountable to spend purposeful, fun one-on-one time with our children.

Once an activity has been chosen, that stick is put away. Once all 5 activity sticks have been earned then you start over with new activities.

What The Moderate Parents love about these plans

  • They promote ownership and there is a tangible action my child has to take. (adding or taking away a ping-pong ball, moving man/woman up or down)
  • We are held accountable to take notice of, not just the bad, but the good in our children. It promotes us to give, much-needed, affirmation. Who among us wants to only hear about their mistakes?
  • We are held accountable to spend fun, one-on-one time with each child. When they earn an outing, my husband and I are just as excited. We try to take turns taking our children out so we each get special time with them throughout the months.

10ish-TEENS: Okay, so now I’m being a hypocrite for writing about what to do with ages I have not parented yet.

But I wanted to share my hopes!!

I hope to transfer away from a system that rewards my children for being loving once they are of an age to know, deep in their heart, what is loving and what is not.

At this point, my hope for my children is that they choose to be loving for love’s sake.

Because they actually love their family and those around them.

I want to teach them to listen to their gut, to the Holy Spirit (if they are believers) and focus in on the internal blessings of loving others.

  • peace
  • joy
  • energy
  • life abundant

And for them to focus on the internal disorder that comes from being unloving.

  • guilt
  • anger
  • fear
  • selfishness
  • self-pity
  • lack of contentment
  • apathy
  • uselessness

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find DISORDER… (James 3:16a)

This is my prayer because they are fastly approaching the day when I will no longer be over their shoulder. I desire for them to have a deep, in-tuned spirit.

Now… do I have any guarantees of this?


But, just like I’m teaching my children, we don’t have control or responsiblity for anyone but myself. I will do my best to steward my children the way God’s leads me and rest that I did my best.

Once my children are gone, it’s between them and their Creator!!

As for discipline, a lot of it will come from the outside world. There are consequences for actions.

My job is to not impede on those consequences but to allow my children to experience the consequences.

I know this will do them good and taking it away from them will harm them greatly!! But it will be so tremendously hard to watch them suffer.!

So, I will be there to love them but not to take away what they’ve earned by their choices.

We will also have some sort of discipline plan in our home, I just don’t know what that will look like. It might be different for each child at that point.

One book that has been recommend to me by multiple parents, when it comes to older children, is Grace Based Parenting. I plan on starting out reading that one!

One thing my husband and I both strongly agree on is, whatever we do, we want grace and love to be proclaimed louder than law.

Children will run from law, and they’ll run from grace. The ones who run from law never come back. But the ones who run from grace always come back. Grace draws us back home. (Book: One Way Love)

Love your children and chances are… they’ll return home!!

How do you reward and give consequences to you children? If you have older children, PLEASE, educate me on what has worked!!!

It’s Been a Pleasure,

Your Moderate Mama

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