Walk up and down the aisles of Wally World and you will get several lessons in the wrong way to treat your kids.

“Mama, Mama, Mama, I want that. Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, I want that.”

Mama says, “If you don’t hush, you won’t get anything. Now hush.”

“Mama, how about this, Mama? Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, can I have this?”

This type of interchange is repeated until finally mama says, “If I get you that, will you shut up?” Mama’s resolve bites the dust as she falls for “the old broken record trick.” She gives in to the little guy and breaks her own word.


Dads are often in the same boat. The little guy takes off running and laughing, and dad calls after him, “Come back here, Bubba; don’t make me have to spank you.” But little Bubba is long gone, too late for simple reasoning. So, dad goes chasing after him, catching him in a swoosh, and swinging him over his shoulder. Of course, the whole scene is repeated until Dad gets a little sharper in his tone and raises his voice to show that this time he means it. But he really does not mean it. He is embarrassed that he can’t control his two-year old and turns the whole thing into a game to hide his lack of clear authority. As they get older the embarrassment increases because other people are watching.

Note: Never discipline your children because other people are watching.

Discipline them because God is watching.

The centurion told Jesus, “I too am a man under authority. I say to this one ‘Go’ and he goes; and I say to this one ‘Come’ and he comes.” A person must receive authority before he can have authority. That is what the the two Wally World parents lacked—authority. They end up breaking their word because they don’t take charge.

Authority comes from God; it doesn’t start with us. “Because I said so” is not a good enough reason. We do what we do as parents because God says so. We teach right and wrong. We encourage, we train, we correct, we discipline because God says so.

Here are three strategies that can help:

1) Before going in the store explain what you expect. Anticipate the problems and handle them ahead of time. I have seen Patricia do this hundreds of times in many different situations. This idea pays off again and again.

2) Tell your kids that you will give them a chance to choose one item. You narrow the choices to two or three things. They can choose from the things you show them. As they get older, you can give them a price range. This privilege can be lost by bad behavior.

3) If necessary, you can exercise the nuclear option by leaving the basket in the aisle, packing up the kids and taking them home. There you can explain, correct, and discipline without the pressure of other eyes watching.