The words discipline and disciple are derived from the same Latin root. Discipline is a process of learning by following in the footsteps of a wise and experienced master. It’s our job as parents to be teachers of that kind. Parents are the world’s original life coaches.

Discipline is more than a slap on the wrist for bad behavior. It’s a strong goal-oriented way of thinking. It’s a training course for life that will always be conducted for the child’s benefit. The goal is to help your child become the best he can be.

With loving disciple-ing, the emphasis is on influence rather than control. Wise parents know that effective child-rearing is a process of releasing your child into the world. The objective is not to keep your daughter on a tight leash, but to loosen the reins gradually while teaching right and wrong by your own example and giving her opportunities to practice. That’s a scary thought for many of us.

If you’re a military veteran, you remember basic training. It was there you learned the disciplines to be a soldier. As a parent, you’re teaching your child the disciplines to be a healthy adult. The intention behind parenting is to prepare rather than insulate. You can’t possibly protect your children from all the bad and threatening things that might happen to them out in the real world. Your job is to prepare them to face the challenges by modeling discernment and teaching strong decision-making skills.

Real discipline is partly a science, partly an art. When it comes to discipline, what we really want to know is fairly simple: How can I prepare my children to face the world with confidence? What sort of life training will enable them to reach adulthood safe and sound?