Why Did You Do It?

If we could answer the simple question ‘WHY’, we could put 90 percent of all psychiatrists out of business. “Why did this happen” or “Why did that happen” or “Why am I writing this article?”
Bill Crosby said “When you ask your kid the question “why did you do it?”, you get a brain damaged answer of “I don’t know!” We may be the ones that are brain-damaged if we don’t find a better approach to our children. The next time an incident occurs in your household, large or small, try this five point formula for successful discipline and learning.
First, “Tell me what happened”. Begin by hearing their side of the story. Of course, it will be from their viewpoint, but isn’t that the issue? Don’t they have a right to be heard in any court of law? This demands a high level of trust and a low level of emotions. This presumes a ‘not-guilty plea’. They may know something about the case that the teacher or others reporting did not know. No frowns, no growls, no shouting and no disgusted looks. Just a simple question to the one you love more than life, “Tell me what happened”.
When their side of the story is heard, then explore with them the second question. “Do you think what was done is right or wrong?” You heard the case from both sides and you are now asking for their judgment. Generally, our kids are very honest in matters of ‘self-judgment’. The key to this simple approach is that the ball is in their court. If they are guilty and falter, recite (without violence or emotions) the evidence again. Repeat the question – “Do you think this is right or wrong?” If they don’t know right from wrong – teach them. This will help them make a better decision next time. You will find with this approach, they will freely admit their guilt the majority of times. Trust begets trust!
The third inquiry is “What do you think WE ought to do about this?” Notice the pronoun “WE”. This third-finger point continues to place the responsibility where it belongs. Our children seem to have a natural sense of justice (discipline) and often will impose a heavier burden on themselves than might be struck by you, the parent. If what they suggest is anywhere near adequate, allow them the right to put it into force. If it is ‘out of line (too much or too little), go back to the evidence and rehearse it. This way, the true learning process continues. Self- discipline is far superior to any other kind. Allow them to play a vital part in the judicial process. After all, this is the way they will treat their kids when they come along.
“What could you have done in this situation?” This fourth point is ‘high honor’ because you allow (permit or compel) them to THINK, which probably was the problem to begin with. Be patient and give them time to reflect. Number the options on your hand as they give them and try to get them to give you as many as four or five. This shows them that while their situation may have been difficult they could have (should have) looked at all possible options before proceeding to get into trouble. Help them in this process and lead the witness gently, (especially if they are very young). When these four simple steps are complete, go for the final and most important one. This one will help them in the future to make better judgment.
“When you face this situation again, or one like it, what decision do you think you’ll make?” The ball is still in their court. Nail the lesson down. It’s a clincher, the final curtain call that signals “Lesson Learned”. After all, there is but one desire of every parent – “I want my child to learn!” When the lesson is learned, what more is there? Even the heavy self-imposed judgments that they give may be eased or commuted by you, the parent.
Now look at your five fingered hand. In this process, you make the mental distinction between discipline and punishment. You punish criminals, you discipline children. Punishment is designed to ‘hurt’. Discipline is designed to help and teach. Punishment is a form of revenge, but discipline brings hope, victory and renewal.
Solomon was wise when he wrote, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools hate wisdom and instructions. My son, hear the instruction of your father, and forsake not the law of your mother; for they shall be an ornament of grace about your head and chains about your neck . . . Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it . . . Now no discipline for the present seems to be joyful, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby” (Proverbs 1:7-9; 22:6; Hebrews 12:11).
Now look at your hand again and repeat those five simple principles that will forever answer the question, “Why did you do it?” It is a better and more effective way of learning and discipline.

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