Tuesday, July 20, 2010


This week, much to the chagrin of my children, I discovered the age old punishment of writing sentences. It is not a novel concept, but it sure is working as a new addition to my disciplinary repertoire.

A couple of years ago a friend gave me a copy of Ginger Plowman's "Wise Words for Moms." I didn't feel like my children were old enough for it to be really effective at the time, so it has been on top of my refrigerator. This week I rediscovered the chart and have put it to use.

The chart begins with a list of several behaviors that bear addressing in children (lying, arguing, disobedience, etc.) The subsequent columns include heart probing questions to ask (to get your children thinking about why they may have behaved that way) and then verses for reproof (what they need to 'put off') and verses for encouragement (what they should 'put on' in its place).
I love the idea of the discipline not just about what NOT to do, but what truth to cling to instead.

I used it twice today to assign sentences (verses) for repeat offenses (hitting and outright defiance). I have been assigning the encouraging verse for the offense, to help the offender hide that Word in their heart for the next time they are tempted. It has been great perspective for me to take them back to the Word, not solely to convict them, but to encourage them as well.

So far so good--from my standpoint, anyway. (The little sentence writers might disagree.) They are learning Scripture, practicing their handwriting in the month before school resumes and they don't enjoy the 'time out' at the kitchen table writing while the rest of us are doing something more exciting.

For all of the newfangled (did I just use that word?) systems and ideas, sometimes you just cannot beat the old tried and true methods.

If anyone has a favorite verse or passage to assign, I would love to hear it. (I am thinking of developing my own family chart using some of Ginger's and some of my own...would love suggestions.)


HW said...

I was never assigned sentences as a child because I loved writing and my mother knew I'd enjoy it too much. My brothers, however, wrote many sentences.

When my children were about 8 and 11 I made them write ESSAYS on being grateful and the things they have in their lives that were blessings to them. They had complained about leaving a fun activity instead of showing gratitude for getting to go in the first place. Like myself, my daughter sat down and went at it like a hobby while my son grumbled through all five paragraphs. The point was made, however.

Another clever discipline my mother used - when we would tip our chair at the table, we were made to sit on the floor and place our food on the chair and use it as the table.

k and c's mom said...

When I taught in private school, I always had my classes memorize Psalm 100. (Even the kindergartners had it in no time.) I loved the ending:"For the Lord is good, and His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues to all generations." Always a positive impact for correction. (PS: My 25 year old daughter recently told me her decision to go to seminary to become a counselor came from some verses we had her learn when she was in fifth grade. The Word IS alive.)

Jen said...

We have our six year old daughter say Ephesians 6:1 to us when she is having a hard time obeying amd Ephesians 4:32 for unkindness.

stephanie@{Olive Tree} said...

What a great idea. I have that same chart on my fridge AND by my desk and have to admit sometimes I look at it and think the verses (of course) are great, but how do I get that truth across.

Alisha Harris said...

James 1:19-20 (LOVE IT)My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Brian said...

I'm pretty sure writing endless sentences as punishment is directly tied to my hatred of writing pretty much anything. Not saying its not a good punishment, but I'd be careful with turning something that could be fun (or uplifting) into a punishment.

Christine said...

I'm kind of with Brian on this one. I'll admit to not being familiar with the book you cite, so I fully acknowledge that I'm sure there's much I am missing. But I wonder if using Scripture as punishment is a good idea.

I'm all for writing sentences and for using Scripture to help change behaviors and attitudes, and heaven knows my 6 year old needs all the printing practice I can throw at her! But if, as you say, your kids aren't very happy when they're writing their Scripture sentences at the table while everyone else plays, are they then frustrated with being in the Word? Perhaps you could have them write sentences like "I will not hit my brother and sister" while playing Scripture CDs (Seeds CDs come to mind) so that they're still hearing God's words, but those words aren't the punishment. And with CDs you can play them in other settings so they aren't just associated with punishment. Maybe that way future memorizing of Scripture won't be approached or remembered as punitive?

I wouldn't dispute at all that Scripture is useful for rebuking, but I'm wondering if at this age this is the best way to use it...? But as I said, I could be totally missing something with this.

JMom said...

Ok, I am listening. Interesting points...

Mindy said...

I hear my Baby B in his crib calling for me to come get him so I just wanted to quickly say that I have that wise words for moms. I use it when I remember it -- but LOVE the idea of having them write sentences with the verse. What a great discipline idea as well as a way for them to memorize the verses.....wait. is it wrong for me to say I love this idea?


in HIM-