Without clear guidelines for behavior, children get confused about what parents expect. Likewise, parents need to plan ahead for discipline when children misbehave to avoid overreacting or responding out of anger.
This free printable discipline chart for Christian parents includes Scripture and a place for choosing an appropriate consequence for misbehavior.
In public, our children are angels.
At home… Let’s suffice to say that I have threatened to sell them to the zoo or circus more than once.
When my oldest was younger, I often questioned whether her behavior was just typical for Autism. Then, our boys grew up mimicking her misbehavior. Autism or not, some things cannot be tolerated… like complete disrespect. Yelling at me, “You’re not my Mommy. Get out of this house!” and slamming doors so hard they break.
Yes, we have experienced some really tough days.
There have been times when I felt without hope, totally stressed and worn out mentally and physically.
Ever feel that way? Maybe this free printable Discipline Chart with Scripture references can help you too.
Why Use a Behavior Chart for Discipline?
Using a discipline chart is not an easy adjustment when you are accustomed to handing out punishment randomly. But, inconsistency sets your family up for future confrontations.
With diligence, you can use a behavior chart to manage your children and your reactions.
Clearly communicate desired behavior
When I took the time to consider why my children were behaving badly, I realized that many of my expectations were in my head. I knew how I wanted them to behave based on the character I saw outlined in the Bible, but they couldn’t see inside my head.
With a behavior chart, children understand how to behave correctly and that there are consequences for bad behavior.
But there is another reason why using a discipline chart to govern behavior is a good idea.
Limits your (over)reaction
When my children are unruly and I have reached the end of my patience, my temper might flare and I lose rational thought. In the past, I might have said stupid things like, “You are on restriction for the rest of your life!” Or, I would grab a wooden spoon and swat a behind for emphasis.
Saying that a child is grounded forever sets a standard in your home that is not easily erased. Essentially, you are telling your child that you don’t mean what you say because there is no way you could ever enforce that punishment.
As for spanking, my husband and I agree that spanking is necessary in instances of defiance and disrespect, but spanking is never our first response.
When we spank our children, it is painful for us. We remain very calm, take the child to their room and ask them to lay across our lap or across the foot of the bed. If the child submits without a fight, they get one moderate spank with a wooden spoon across the cushy part of their behind. If they resist, we tell them they will receive two spanks and typically, they give into the reprimand.
Afterwards, we ask them to stay in their rooms until they can calm down. Once they are calm, we give hugs and kisses, express our love, and pray together.
Creates a system of choices and consequences
Life is all about making choices, and adults understand that making a bad choice can often result in terrible consequences. We can begin shaping our children to this reality system in which they will live for the rest of their lives by using a discipline chart.
Think of the chart as a guide for if-then. “If you do this, then this will happen.” It’s a basic lesson in cause and effect but also teaches a child to accept responsibility for his or her actions.
Creating a Discipline Chart for Home
Before making a discipline chart for our family to use at home, I took notes on how I saw my children acting towards me, one another, and other authority figures. I also recognized the areas of their character that were lacking a Christ-like attitude. These behaviors became the basis for our discipline chart.
Once I had a list of behaviors to correct, I started looking for Scriptures that would teach my children how God expected them to act and react in circumstances. Our discipline chart is not just about punishment but about creating an awareness of what the Bible says regarding our attitude and actions.
Then it was time to choose the results for misconduct.
Each offense comes with a consequence based on reality discipline. Make a mess? Do more chores. Disrespect? Submit to authority and serve with honor.
Here is an example… When our children draw on a table or wall, the child has to scrub the surface clean and will then have extra chores to do.
If a child refuses to turn off a tablet when told to do so, use of the tablet is restricted for at least 24 hours. If the child continues to resist or exhibits disrespect, they lose the tablet for 2 days… 3 days… 4 days… until the child calms and submits.
Our behavior chart with consequences lists clearly what is expected, what the Bible says, and what will happen should a child choose unwisely.
Making the Discipline Chart work
When we adopted a behavior chart, my husband and I had to agree to be a team to make this work. We prayed a lot about the behavior of our children and made the if-then chart together.
The night we introduced the Discipline Chart, we had a family meeting with the children together and explained why the rules were important. We took time to explain each rule, Scripture and discipline.
You have known the Holy Scriptures ever since you were a little child. They are able to teach you how to be saved by believing in Christ Jesus.
God has breathed life into all of Scripture. It is useful for teaching us what is true. It is useful for correcting our mistakes. It is useful for making our lives whole again. It is useful for training us to do what is right. By using Scripture, a man of God can be completely prepared to do every good thing.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 (NIrV)
As Christian parents, Scripture plays an active role in our parenting. We want our children to understand that we didn’t choose a random list of rules to enforce. These behaviors are requested by God.
If the children disobey, we remind them of the Scripture – using it to shape their characters – and pray with them after they are disciplined.
But the key to making the Discipline Chart work is consistency.
If the behavior chart takes space on your refrigerator but is neglected, you will continue to be frustrated with your child’s behavior. And don’t expect your child to remind you that they deserve to be punished.
Your job as the parent is to help shape your child with godly character. It’s intentional, purposeful, and consistent.
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