FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Scolding–An Angry Response to Misbehavior

with Ginger Plowman | August 26, 2008
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On today's broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with author and founder of Preparing the Way Ministries, Ginger Plowman, about a parent's response to misbehavior.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • On today's broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with author and founder of Preparing the Way Ministries, Ginger Plowman, about a parent's response to misbehavior.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

On today’s broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with author and founder of Preparing the Way Ministries, Ginger Plowman, about a parent’s response to misbehavior.

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Scolding–An Angry Response to Misbehavior

With Ginger Plowman
August 26, 2008
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Bob: As a mom, do you ever feel like your children just don't listen until you start yelling?  Ginger Plowman asks who is training whom?

Ginger:  Say that you do speak in the gentle tone of voice, and it doesn't get their attention.  They look up at Mom, and she's not yelling yet, and so they say, "I've got plenty of time," and then it comes at them a little bit louder, and they look up, and they think, "Well, you know, her eyeballs and neck veins aren't bulging yet.  I still think I've got a little time."  And then, once Mom has transformed into The Hulk, they obey.  But, you see, what are we teaching those children?  We're teaching them that we don't mean what we say until we're yelling.

This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, August 26th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  If you're a mom who has found herself turning into The Incredible Hulk a little too often, stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  We're talking this week about discipline and about the fact that if you watch these shows on TV that have got moms trying to discipline their kids, and it's not working, and they have to call the nanny, the Super Nanny to come in and fix it for them, you know?

Dennis: What mom hasn't wanted a Super Nanny from time to time?  Seriously!

Bob: They need an 800 number for that service, so you can get somebody over there, right?  Maybe we should do that.  We should provide a direct-to-your-house, Super …

Dennis: Let's call your house.

Bob: Yeah, I don't think so.  We'll give them …

Dennis: You can answer.

Bob: We'll give them Fox Television, and they can get in touch with the Nanny 911 people.  In fact, if you've watched this show, you've seen these out-of-control kids and these clueless parents, you know what I mean, right?

Dennis: At supermarkets, at ball games …

Bob: And if you've watched, you've heard – this is just a little sample of the kids and the parents and how the kids are taking over, and the parents don't know what to do, and it's anarchy in the home.

Kid: Sometimes I'm smarter than Mom and Dad.

Kid: What an idiot you are.

Mom: Don't you dare!


Kid: Being Dad is fun.

[baby cries]

Mom: I fight with my husband all the time about the discipline with the children.  I don't even discipline them at all.

Dad: That's all he knows about is to play that Game Boy all day long, all day long.

Mom:  [inaudible], I don't know.

Dad: Michelle will yell at me for any type of discipline.  She doesn't really see the problem.  She refuses.

[kids screaming]

Mom: I don't care if it's hurting you.

Kid: Cleanup on Aisle 5!

[kid screams]

Dad: Give me the gun, give me the gun.

Kid: Where's the target?

Dad: Give me the gun!

Bob: You know, I listen to that, and I get this picture of Mom and Dad tied up in the breakfast room, and the kids are dancing around the table.  They've taken over.  They're in charge of the home, and Mom and Dad don't know how to get untied and how to fix it.

Dennis: You know, I share the story like that about our family one time, and I just had some moms walk up after I shared it and say, "Ohhh, that was such a relief, that that kind of behavior happened at your house when you and Barbara raised your kids."  And I said, "Absolutely." 

Well, you know, it happens at all houses, and that's why we're featuring Ginger Plowman all this week talking about how you can discipline your children and how you and your spouse can get a game plan together.  Welcome back, Ginger.

Ginger: It's good to be back, thank you.

Dennis: Ginger is a wife, a homeschooling mom of two children.  She has been through a lot of those scenarios that you just heard that every parent has to endure and go through.

Bob: But never been tied up in the kitchen with the kids running around?

Ginger: I don't think it ever got that far, Bob, thankfully.

Dennis: She is the founder of Preparing the Way Ministries, a writer, a speaker, and this book really is a slice of your heart because you have a desire that primarily moms know how to discipline their children and to really cut through all the behavioral issues and cut through the clutter and deal with the heart.

Ginger: That's right.  It's all about reaching past the outward behavior of our children and learning how to draw out what is going on in their heart.

Bob: And I have to wonder if one of the reasons why that's a passion for you is because when you were growing up, you had the outward behavior.

Ginger: That's right, I did.

Bob: You looked like a good kid, at least at some points, right?

Ginger: Right.

Dennis: Ha!  She's grinning.

Bob: It hadn't gotten to the heart.

Dennis: She's grinning because she's told us too many stories now, and she's afraid we're going to tell one of them.

Ginger: You know too much.


Bob: You were a little Pharisee.

Ginger: I was.

Dennis: Well, now, wait a second, Bob, she wasn't a Pharisee because she wasn't religious.

Bob: Well, that's true.  You didn't grow up in a home where Christ was at the center of the home but by Pharisee what I mean is you were acting one way but your heart was another way, right?

Ginger: That's right.  And that's another reason why it's important to reach the heart of our children, because if we're only addressing the outward behavior, then they will become Pharisees.  They are going to – where Jesus talked about in the Scriptures that "they honored Me with their lips but that their hearts were far from Me," and Jesus labeled them as people who washed the outside of the cup while the inside was still unclean, and that is not what we want with our children.  We don't want outward performance.  We want them to have a heart for God and a desire to do what's right, and real joy comes to children who know that they are obedience pleases both God and their parents.

Bob: You heard those out-of-control kids and those clueless parents, exasperated parents – in fact, I watched you as you kind of just shook your head or sighed a little bit because you thought, "These parents, they don't realize what's happening by how they're not responding properly to what's going on in their home."

Ginger: That's right, and a lot of parents are – they almost seem intimidated by their children, like they're scared to discipline their children, and it could just be that they're scared that their relationship is not going to be good if they're viewed as just the disciplinarian. 

But, again, and I think we talked about that the last time we were together, that God equates discipline with love, and so when we discipline our children with love, they are going to equate discipline with love.  And so parents need to move away from thinking that discipline is going to hinder closeness in that parent/child relationship.  Discipline keeps the relationship in balance because the parent who is not allowing the child to be on a peer level with them is going to be more respected, and they're going to be able to fulfill their role that God has given them.

Dennis: You know, I couldn't agree more, Ginger, but a lot of parenting is exhausting.  I mean, I would come home from work, and I'd find Barbara absolutely at the end of herself, and what had happened is she had moved over to the emotional arena of just – well, at points, scolding the children, and I mean what parent hasn't gotten off into this mud puddle of just using words and emotion, hoping to change behavior and change their children for good.

Ginger: Yeah, and scolding is a dangerous way to respond to our children, and unfortunately I think that a lot of parents respond in anger and with scolding because they don't know any other way to respond.  They don't know the right way, and there is a difference in scolding versus biblically reproving.

Dennis: Define scolding for us.  I mean, just put it in context a little bit.

Ginger:  Scolding is an angry response, and it also will not lead to the righteous life that God desires.  And so when we scold our children, then God is not going to honor that, because we're doing it in anger instead of love, and it's love that motivates us to train our children.

So let me just give you an example to demonstrate the differences in scolding versus biblically reproving.

My children were wanting to go outside to play one day, and I think Alex was about five years old at the time, and she just absolutely delights in being barefooted.  And so on the way out the door, she says, "Mom, can I go outside and play today without my shoes on?" but it was unusually cold in Alabama on this day, and so I explained, "No, sweetheart, it's too cold.  You put your shoes on, and then you can go outside."  So she nods her little head that she understands.

Well, I go outside 20 minutes later, and I find Alex running around on bare feet that have now turned a bluish-purple color, and not only that, but her pants were just a little bit too longer for her, and so without her shoes on she stepped on the bottom of her pants.  So after grinding the bottom of her pants into the concrete for 20 minutes, she now has two holes in her brand-new pants. 

So, you see, I'm angry.  She has disobeyed me.  The brand-new pants are messed up, but I have a choice.  There are two ways that I can respond.  I can scold her.  I can say, "Alex!  I told you to put your shoes on!  Now your feet are half-frozen and just look at what you've done to your pants!  Your daddy works so hard to buy you these pants, and this is how you show your appreciation!  You just see how fast you can get your tail in your room, young lady.  You are getting a major spanking!

Or I can say, "Now, Alex, honey, I told you to put your shoes on before you went outside.  Now, have you obeyed or have you disobeyed?"  And then once she verbalizes that she's disobeyed, I can come back with, "Well, honey, you know, God wants you to obey, and Mommy wants you to obey, and I love you too much to allow you to disobey."

Now, let me ask you – listening to those two response, which one do you think she'll be more receptive to?  Which one shows unconditional love and careful instruction?  And which one will she learn from without being provoked to anger?  We need to remember that scolding is an angry response that provokes our children to anger.

Bob: All right, hang on.  There's got to be a mom who is thinking, you know, "I hear your controlled gentle, "Sweetheart," you know, "here's this and that."  I understand that.  That would not get my child's attention.  The reason I turn up the volume, the reason I get in their face, and the reason I'm shouting is because sometimes it takes that just to get them to pay attention to me!

Ginger: And I would say to that mom that she has taught them.  She has trained them that Mom doesn't mean business until she's screaming, and so say that you do speak in the gentle tone of voice, and it doesn't get their attention.  Well, and then they look up at Mom, and she's not yelling yet, and so they say, "Well, I've got plenty of time."  And then it comes at them a little bit louder, and they look up, and they think, "Well, you know, her eyeballs and neck veins aren't bulging yet.  I still think I've got a little time."  And then, once Mom has transformed in The Hulk, they obey.

But, you see, what are we teaching those children?  We're teaching them that we don't mean what we say until we're yelling.  And so one thing that I do that helps me, and this is certainly not a biblical mandate, is I try to make a conscious effort to reprove my children in a softer tone of voice than what I normally use, and that is just a tool that has helped me to have self-control, and if screaming has been what's normal in the home, then it's going to take a while for them to understand that there is not going to be screaming and yelling and anger involved in discipline and training anymore.  It's going to be done in love and self-control.

Dennis: Ginger, as I was listening to you, I had two thoughts.  Number one, our children are good students of us, and they know how to push our buttons, and they know what brings that emotional response to get Mom or Dad out of control so they are in control.

And what we have to do is, I think, do something like you talked about, which is find a way to turn down that volume, and that's my second point.  The Scripture commands us to not walk according to the flesh but to walk according to the Spirit, to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and it says the fruit of the Spirit, over in Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22 – "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." 

And I think if there is anyplace where the Christian life needs to be applied in our lives it's as we relate to our children.  And when they press our buttons, and we feel the need to turn the radio dial over to the flesh and get angry and raise the emotional volume and shout in anger, in frustration, instead we need to turn that dial away from the flesh towards the Holy Spirit, because He lives in you, if you are a follower of Christ, and He came to fill you, to control you, to empower you, and to live through you to give you the ability to turn down that volume and to begin to speak in a tone that is patient, that does have self-control, that is full of graciousness.

I know, on more than one occasion, Barbara and I would talk about this.  This is easy to talk about here in a radio studio …

Ginger: Right.

Dennis: But in the kitchen at the end of a long, hard day when it's easy for the flesh to be provoked, those are moments when we have to ask ourselves, in our own hearts, the question – which way is my radio dial turned to?  The flesh or the Spirit?  Do I believe Christ was raised from the dead through the power of the Holy Spirit and that He lives in me, and that He can help me control my tone of voice and can help me relate to my child in a patient way?  Well, I think, at that point, our children test that theological reality.

Bob: Well, and I'm still thinking about the mom who has got the situation – she's trying to gently, quietly reprove, "Sweetheart, I love you so much, I'm going to do this," and this is a strong-willed, self-willed child who throws tantrums; who will just lay down in the backyard and scream and kick.  And you're there going, "Now, sweetheart," you know, and you're being quiet and gentle while the kid screams louder then they can hear you.

Ginger:  But you know what?  That doesn't give us the right to do that.  God has called us to have self-control, and how can we train our children in self-control if we are not demonstrating that before them.  So even the child that is doing that – it's wrong for us to think, "Well, we've got to get down on their level," and we've got to not have self-control and scream and throw a fit so that they'll listen.  That's not speaking their language, it's setting a poor example for our children, and if we want them to be self-controlled, then we need to demonstrate self-control before them.

Bob: So if the tantrum is going off in the backyard, what do you do with tantrums?

Ginger: What I would do – I had one that when she was young, she would throw tantrums like that when she would get in trouble, and I would take her to her room, put her on her bed, and close the door.

Dennis: Yeah, remove the audience.

Ginger: Remove the audience, and then I would wait until she calmed down, and sometimes that was five minutes, and sometimes it was 45 minutes.  And then I would go in her room, and I would say, "That is disrespectful.  When I instruct you, and you respond to me like that, it is disrespectful.  It is dishonoring me, and it is dishonoring God, and that's not going to be allowed in our family."

Dennis: I've found that most of us, as parents, we're more emotionally upset by listening to our child scream, and it's hard for us to handle.  There is no scientific evidence, however, that screaming does any damage to the brain.


Ginger: That's a good point.

Dennis: Either to your child's or to yours.  Now, what you have to do is get far enough away from it that you let them stay in there and pitch a fit.  And after doing that a couple of times, you're going to find that your child will not scream for 45 minutes.  They're not going to pound the floor and cry and yell and do all the things …

Bob: They figure, "this isn't working."

Dennis: It's not working.  "Who am I doing this for?"  They're looking around, and there is no audience.  But the thing that you have to do, as parent, is be consistent.  Just keep on doing it and persevering.  The tendency is to drop your guard, to get worn out, have them wear you down and be exhausted and you know what?  When they see that, they take advantage of it every single time.

But after you've done this, it's important then to step back in that room and then provide the clear discipline, the penalty, for their disobedience.  Now, what do you do in that situation, Ginger?

Ginger: I would go back in after the child has calmed down, and I would say that this is not acceptable in our family; that you must have self-control, and when I give you instruction, you need to listen to Mom's instruction without throwing a fit, because that is not demonstrating self-control.

And then, one tool that we use in our home that is very effective in teaching children to actually implement what you're teaching, is we do something in our home called role-playing.  So in that situation of the temper tantrum, say that I instructed her, she falls out on the floor screaming and crying, now she's gone to her room, I've talked to her about why that's wrong; that I expect her to have self-control, she has been disciplined for it.  Then I think it's so important that we carry that step further, and so what I would do in that situation is take her back to the scene of the crime, where she fell out and threw the fit, and I would say, "Now, let's try that again, and let's do it the right way this time."  And then I would say the words again – whatever instruction I had given her that set her off, and then I would require her to practice the biblical alternative to the sinful behavior.

Role-playing is an extremely effective way to teach children how to put what they've learned into practice, and it still works when they're older.  It can still be an effective tool for doing it the right way.  A lot of children, they don't even know how to do it the right way.  In Ephesians it says that we are to put off our old self and put on our new self.  And so often, in our parenting, we tend to stop our training at telling our children what not to do and then disciplining them for it.

But that is not enough.  God has called us to train them in righteousness.  You've got to practice with them, you've got to require them to practice putting off what is wrong and putting on what is right.

Bob: Have you ever had a child wait you out?  You put them in their room and say, "You can't come out until this," and the child says "Fine."  We'll see who softens first.  What's the longest you've gone, do you remember?

Ginger: I don't know, Bob, I didn't time it, but there have been times that I know it was more than an hour.

Bob: And they're just waiting …

Dennis: Oh, they're battling with their will, right?

Ginger: They're battling with their will.

Dennis: It is a power struggle of who is going to win, and if you don't win at this age, you're going to have real problems during the teenage years.

Ginger: That's right, and that's why it's important.  It's so much easier if we start this training when they're young.  However, I don't want to discourage parents that are listening to this broadcast  and think, "Oh, I've already blown it.  I've already messed up," because, at the same time, it is never too late for God.  Tomorrow is a new day, and you can start training them with love and with self-control in the right way and encouraging them in God's Word right now.

Dennis: And I want to encourage the parents who are raising teenagers to not lose heart, especially, as well.  Because the tendency is to look back and say, "Well, I didn't do all that.  I did raise my voice, and now I'm finding, as a parent of a teenager, that I'm being drug into an emotional mud puddle …

Bob: You are reaping a little of what you sowed, right?

Dennis: Exactly, and the teenager knows if he or she can get you in the emotional mud puddle with them, you become a mud wrestler, and we've done that.  We've tried the mud wrestling, and what you have to do is stay out of that mud puddle, you have to stay above it all, and, I'm telling you, in my opinion, this is where the Bible makes the most sense.  It gives you the game plan.  It tells you – you don't have to walk according to the flesh, you don't have to be a mud wrestler.  You can walk according to the power of the Holy Spirit by yielding, yielding control to Him.  He is alive.  Christ is risen.  Easter is true.  The story of the Resurrection is not a fable, it's a reality, and because of that, God's Word is true, and He does empower Christian moms and dads to walk in the power of the Spirit and not walk according to the flesh.

Bob: And to begin to apply what God's Word says in your home, and I know some of our listeners think, "Well, I don't know God's Word well enough in these areas to be able to apply it.  I need to learn what the Bible says about these issues, and that's one of the things I loved about your book, Ginger, is it is full of Scripture.  It points people back to what the Bible has to say and helps you understand how these biblical truths can be lived out and taught in your home.

The book we're talking about is called "Don't Make Me Count to Three" by our guest today, Ginger Plowman, and we have copies of it in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  In fact, in addition to the book, we've got a new resource that Ginger has developed – I love this – it is the No More Whining kit – Three Easy Steps to Whine-Free Living.  And I know you hear that, and you think to yourself, that can't be true, but I think you've come up with something here.

Included in this kit is a watch, a wristwatch, that a child can wear on his or her wrist, and if your child comes in and is whining, you correct the child, you help them see what their behavior is, and then you press the button on the wristwatch, and it starts a three-minute timer, and they have to come back three minutes later and try again.  And you've talked to a lot of moms who have done this and found that in about a week, the child gets a handle on the whining issue.

So we've got the No More Whining Resource Kit, and Ginger's book in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  Go to our website,, for more information about both of these resources and about the Wise Words for Moms chart that Ginger has put together.  We've got a limited supply of those.

Again, the website is, look on the right side of the home page, you'll see a box that says "Today's Broadcast."  In that box is a button that says "Learn More," and if you click that button, it will take you to the area of the site where you can get more information about these resources or order online, if you'd like.  There is also a link there to the new FamilyLife Mom Blog that we've developed, and if you want to read some insights from some young moms who are sharing what it's like to raise their children, and I think they're focusing on discipline, particularly, this week.  You can go to the FamilyLife Mom Blog.

Or if it's easier to get in touch with us by phone, call 1-800-FLTODAY, that's 1-800-358-6329, and someone on our team will let you know how the resources you need can be sent out to you.

And when you do get in touch with us, don't forget, this is the final week of our Family First challenge campaign.  We are asking listeners to consider making an end-of-the-summer financial gift to FamilyLife Today, and to issue a challenge to other listeners to join with you.  In fact, we've had some challenges issued throughout the month. 

We had a dad who called in to make a donation, and he is an adoptive dad, and he wanted to issue a challenge to all the other families who have been involved in adoption to consider making a contribution to FamilyLife Today, and he mentioned our Hope for Orphans initiative and how that had been instrumental in their own decision to adopt.  We appreciate his support, and we're hoping you'll consider making an end-of-summer contribution to the Family First challenge campaign.  You can do that online at or by calling 1-800-FLTODAY, and let me just say thanks in advance for your partnership with us.  We appreciate you helping to keep us on this station and on other stations all across the country.

Well, tomorrow we want to talk about grumbling and complaining and whining and what do we do as parents when our children are doing those things?  We'll talk about that with our guest, Ginger Plowman.  I hope you can join us back.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today; hope for tomorrow.  


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