Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Yesterday I used the illustration of training our children when they were little in the principle of obedience and disobedience. The focus of any discipline was upon disobedience not upon the specific action they did or didn’t do.
This brought to mind a very significant experience that we had in Grad School that underscored the effectiveness of this approach. I was taking a class on Moral
Development. The (secular) textbooks we were using described that children had to be 7 or 8 years old before they were developed enough to understand certain things. They contained the following illustration:
Billy is asked to help set the table for dinner. While carrying a tray of 5 glasses to the
table, he trips and breaks all 5 glasses.
Nancy is told that she cannot have a cookie before dinner. But when her mother is in another room, she gets a chair to stand on to reach the cookie jar. While reaching for the cookies she bumps 1 glass, knocking it to the floor, breaking it.
Who is naughtier – Billy or Nancy?
The authors indicated that children younger than 7 or 8 would say Billy was naughtier because he broke 5 glasses while Nancy only broke 1. Their focus would be upon the number of glasses broken. The one who broke more was naughtier.
We had 2 sons at the time and they were 3 and 4 years old. The next day I read the illustration to Johnnie, the oldest, and asked him, “Who is naughtier – Billy or Nancy?” His answer was wonderful. Johnnie, the 4 year old, replied, “Only Nancy was naughty. She disobeyed. Billy wasn’t naughty because it was an accident.”
Needless to say I shared this experience with the class the next week.