Discipline and Tears

by | Apr 30, 2018 | Discipline, Family

The tears of a heartbroken child can turn the good intentions of a firm disciplinarian into one of frustration and intimidation. Even when discipline is in order, there will always be those who question or disapprove. It is especially difficult when you meet adults who question your motives, but with children it is much different.

A potential learning situation can turn into disaster, when things do not go as planned. I learned a great lesson about discipline and tears one day many years ago. It was one that I will always remember. During the early 1950?s, I was conducting a Vacation Bible School in a under privileged rural neighborhood. We met in a little one room church from nine until twelve each morning for two weeks. It was hot and humid and there were no air conditioners. There were no refreshments of cool aid and cookies either, but these children never missed that part. You can’t miss something you have seldom had. Most of these children had never attended a Vacation Bible School. They came for fun and learning and also because it was something new and different. They learned their Bible lessons well and, even though the singing was way off key for lack of a piano, they sang heartily.

It was a wonderful two weeks and God blessed us. I had learned to love them all and it would be hard to say goodbye. On the last day I planned a special treat as a surprise reward for the children because they had done so well. It was a colorful container of candy for each child. Everyone was excited because in those days candy was a special treat which they did not get very often. As they all lined up for their turn to come to the front, where the treats were laid out, I heard some loud commotion. The boy at the head of the line, was getting a bit mean and pushy. He was letting everyone know that he would have first choice. His unkind attitude was causing the others to resent him.

Believing in discipline as I do, and to avoid trouble, I said, “Sam (not his real name) we cannot allow this. You will have to go to the end of the line. You need to learn that you cannot be pushing others around in this unkind way.” With a deep sigh he obeyed knowing he was wrong. As the treats were received and the line got shorter, Sam’s excitement grew. Suddenly the look on his face changed to despair and he burst into tears. The child in front of him had picked up the very last container of candy. The sound of his pitiful crying caused sudden silence in the room.

All eyes were on me to see what I would do. I had not planned it this way, but perhaps there was a lesson here. The children knew he had been wrong but his tears turned their sympathy toward him. My attempt at discipline seemed to have backfired. The children might never remember the Bible lessons, but they would not soon forget this moment.

It was then I realized that Bible School was not over yet. There were unplanned but very important lessons still to be learned. Both his wrong and my error had caused the tears. I had miscounted and I felt terrible and on the spot. His tears were dried when the problem was quickly solved from my emergency back up supply. I was so thankful that I had prepared for this. It would have been easy here to compromise discipline in his favor and give him special treatment. Or, to say, “don’t cry, it is not your fault”. To do so would have been to miss a very crucial point for the children to learn.

It was a God given opportunity to teach them that a bad attitude and selfishness actions can get us into trouble. Discipline hurts but lack of it can hurt worse in the long run. Facing up to our wrongs, at any age, is of great value.

Hebrews. 12:10 (NIV) says, “God disciplines us for our good.” Tears also are God’s gift to us to relieve tension and help us in our sorrow for things we have done wrong. These are just two of the “all things” that work together for our good, as it tells us in Romans 8:28. Candy is sweet but feeling right about our actions is even sweeter.

Carolyn jcklr1@gmail.com


Discipline and Tears