(I’m acting like an authority here. Please give me feedback and point out where I’m not quite right. Or completely wrong.)

When there has been a conflict between you and a child (or your child and another) it is wise to bring the child to another room where you can (A) discuss it, (B) speak in a calmer way, and (C) administer discipline if necessary.

In these situations, I have found it helpful to make sure the child understands that one of the following 4 things has happened in the conflict (loosely in order from least likely to most):

1. No one sinned
2. The Dad (or Mom) Sinned only
3. Both sinned
4. The child sinned only*

This is important: You and your child should come to an agreement which of the four situations has happened. Change will not occur if the child walks away thinking that they have done nothing wrong. And their behavior and attitude might get worse if they think they have been wrongly punished. Help them understand their guilt.

If you have sinned, state this and ask for forgiveness. But this doesn’t change your son or daughter’s sin. Make sure they understand this.

Once the “who has sinned?” question is resolved, then the real work of discipline, forgiveness, prayer, grace, reconciliation can happen.

*If this is a multi-child conflict, your child might bring the other child’s sin into the discussion. Tell them that (A) you will discuss their sibling’s sin with him/her and (B) it is beside the point of this discussion.

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