Small-amplitude weakly coupled oscillators of the Klein–Gordon lattices are approximated by equations of the discrete nonlinear Schrödinger type. We show how to justify this approximation by two methods, which have been very popular in the recent literature. The first method relies on a priori energy estimates and multi-scale decompositions. The second method is based on a resonant normal form theorem. We show that although the two methods are different in the implementation, they produce equivalent results as the end product. We also discuss the applications of the discrete nonlinear Schrödinger equation in the context of existence and stability of breathers of the Klein–Gordon lattice.