Creative Child

The Messages Behind Discipline

by Rebecca Eanes

With every correction, I am giving my child a message about who he is.


Because children see themselves through the eyes of their parents, because what they see reflected in our eyes shapes who they become, because the truths they hold about themselves start as the truths we hold about them, there is perhaps no greater work than minding how we view our children and what messages we give them about who they are and what they’re worth.

The messages they get from us, particularly during correction, during the times we are not happy with their behavior or choices, influence their identities.

I was recently offered a course to review which has sharpened my awareness to this fact. Module 1 of the course invites parents to think of the messages we send during discipline, and as I’ve been working through this myself, I realized that this is something worth sharing. Most times, our intentions as parents are very good.


We want our children to make good choices. We want them to be responsible, considerate, kind, thoughtful, diligent, and so on. In an effort to instill such qualities in them, we correct them when they go off course, as we should.

Yet, the way in which parents choose to correct often sends a message which is the opposite of what we are going for.

In an effort to get a child to be responsible, we send the clear message of “you are irresponsible.” To make a child be more kind, we give the message “you are not kind.” Then, we stand in awe as they continue to exhibit irresponsible and unkind behavior, not understanding that we planted the very seeds we didn’t want to see spring up.

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