Can I Have A Warning?

Imagine you are late for an important meeting. It’s not your fault; there was a storm in the middle of the night that knocked off the power, and your alarm clock didn’t go off. It could have happened to anyone. Unfortunately, it happened to you, and in the worst day possible.

You zip out of your driveway and zoom down the street. You know you are speeding, but you are really watching out for children as you slow down for the stop sign and punching the gas pedal. You think to yourself, “If I can make up 10 minutes I won’t be late and everything will be just fine.”

Regrettably, this is just not your day. You come to this realization when you see blue lights in your rear view mirror. It’s a cop! And he pulls you over.

As he walks up to your car you are just hoping he will give you a……

Ticket? No way! No one deserves one of those. You want a warning! Even though you knew exactly what you did was wrong. Even though you consciously made the choice to speed through your neighborhood and cruise through the stop sign.

Kids are no different. Last night Jackson was pestering me about a piece of software I am buying for our company. It comes with a program that he will get to use to record the computer screen. He wants it to record videos for his new gamer YouTube channel, where he goes by the alias “Stinky Gillespie.”

Because Jackson is 10 years old his patience level isn’t very high and he has gotten into a bad habit of pestering to get what he wants, and pouting when he doesn’t. Because I understand how important consistent discipline is, I told him he wasn’t going to get the software until next week. After explaining why he was being disciplined he asked me, “Can I have a warning?”

You see, we all want a warning before we are actually disciplined. The problem is, if all a cop or parent did was to give warnings, there would be no real danger of discipline. With that gone, there is no real need to change behavior.

Warnings are best when given in advance, but you have to have consistent follow through if the warning isn’t heeded. Giving four warnings in an angry tone of voice is just an empty threat

Tips for effective warnings:

  • Remain calm
  • Tell them what they did wrong, and what will happen if they continue
  • Use the phrase “This is your warning”
  • Discipline the next violation quickly and without emotion, or
  • Praise the changed behavior an hour later so they not only avoided discipline, but received praise

You can give a warning after you have discipline, but this should be done sparingly. It’s called grace.

Tips to giving grace:

  • when you know you reacted emotionally with announcement of discipline
  • When grace will create a change in the heart and behavior
  • When they haven’t received grace from you in awhile

Grace doesn’t mean you never discipline; it simply means that you are withholding it to give them the opportunity to make the necessary attitude adjustment.

In case you are wondering, I gave Jackson the warning, and delayed the discipline. I am proud to announce he didn’t waste the opportunity to change his attitude. In fact, I have to go; he just woke up and got into bed to snuggle up. I need to go praise him.