When we live by faith in so many areas of our lives, why would God not want us to live by faith in the area of discipline? In other words, with the Holy Spirit as our guide, wouldn't it make sense that God would give us wisdom to understand the different personalities of our children and to adjust our discipline according to each of their needs? Wouldn't He want us to reach the hearts and lives of our children in the same manner that He reached the heart of His disciples? By serving them, loving them, correcting them, teaching them, living with them in wisdom and truth and modeling integrity. So, I give you part 2 of The Mystery of Discipline article I wrote to answer some questions I received from a group of moms.
Words that build bridges of encouragement and affirmation
Appreciate their good behavior--"You are so very helpful. Thanks for picking up all your toys." "You were so patient with your sister. Thanks for being such a great big brother--I couldn't do without your help."
We used consequences a lot with our children and then we were very consistent to follow up. "When you talk to an adult, you say, 'yes, Mrs. Brown" and you look them in the eye and you do what they say." If they misbehave, we would say, 'what is our 24 family way about how we speak to authority?" (We trained our values into our children ever day by teaching them our way and giving them scriptural admonition--go here to see the 24 Family Ways in our bookstore to see what Clay wrote for our family.
We corrected a child's behavior immediately. We often said, "You have a choice to make. If you stop your bad behavior right now, then we will keep playing at the park, but if you insist on fighting with your sister or brother, (or whatever), you will have to go sit in the car while everyone else plays. (And then I or Clay would go sit with the child--but usually our children learned to comply with our training if we were consistent. I do think, however, some parents are too harsh and impatient with their young children--2, 3, 4 years old. These are the questions that need to be asked first:
1. Has my child had enough sleep--do I need to punish them or put them to bed with harshness and unrealistic expectations because I have allowed them to become exhausted?
2. Is my child's blood sugar low-do they need to eat or have I pushed them too far?
3. Is it past their bed time or nap routine?
4. Are they overstimulated by being with too many other children for too long and or by too much activity? (When children are in the presence of other children as toddlers and pre-schoolers, even more then two others at a time for over an hour, it takes their blood sugar almost 24 hours to normalize! ) Keep your children home, give them routine, let them play and exercise and tire themselves from natural play--not from being in front to the television or from being inside too much with too many other little children.
5. Have I been paying attention to my child--is his or her emotional cup full? Or have I been correcting them all the time and "whining" at them and they are badly behaved because I have not been attending to them?
6. Am I trying to make my little boy stop being a boy? (Boys are louder, more active, and slower to mature and not as apt to sit still--just takes a little more time and patience.)
7. Do I make an effort to sympathize with my child and enter his world--give him time to explore, nurse him or her, touch and tickle and show affection to them and hold them a lot?
8. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you--are you being fair? Positive and content and not yelling or whining or using guilt? Respect your child--meet your baby's need to be held, nursed and picked up and you will have a happier toddler--children need lots of love and affection--when their needs are filled, they tend to be much easier to handle and quicker to comply--I spent so much time with my little ones at home and they were much easier to train than when I took them out every day and overstimulated them.
Now, if these basic needs are met, then a child is much more apt to be easily trainable. (When I am not overworked and my emotional cup is filled and I feel happy in my home and am appreciated and affirmed--I am a much better person--and so with my child. But when I am exhausted, spent and have neglected my personal well-being, I also am harsher, and shorter of temper. I have to maintain my own peace at home for them to find me peaceful.)
Loving, teaching, training, etc. is over and over and over again. Takes a lifetime--when he is "old" he will not depart from it! :)
One mom said she was having to spank her child 6-8 times a day for not washing her hands before meals (found out the child was 2 1/2 years old!) I told her, "If you want her to like washing her hands, every time before you go to eat, you pick her up in your arms, take her to the sink and gently rub her hands with soap and sing a "washing, rubbing, making hands clean and smell good song" and then you kiss the hands and gently put the child in her high chair and she will want to wash her hands the rest of her life-- and it will bring a good memory!
We would also always train our children before we went into a new situation. "When mom goes to the grocery store today, I will give you a small cup of cheerios to munch on. I would like you children to stay quiet in the grocery store and not beg for something. If you obey Mommy, we will go to the park afterwards and have a small snack. If you choose to misbehave, we will have to go straight home and you will have to stay alone in your rooms." And then you remind them if any discord starts to erupt. Then children learn what you expect from them. Also, we would use distraction with little ones.
I think, too, that some stages just must be lived through--no, not this, this! over and over again--and then over a period of time, you will see that your children are growing in self-control and time plays its part and they begin to naturally mature because they are growing older. Just be patient.
Just wish you could have heard my girls talking and talking about controlling children and all the methods they remember us using--so fun to listen to your own and giggle at them in all their ways. Fun to be at this stage--they do grow up, eventually! Have a happy week and try to enjoy each phase--as I miss my boys way too much and when Sarah is gone, I wish she were here. But I do also enjoy them being out in the world and seeing them all spread their wings--it is healthy. But the whole process always had so many ups an downs and it is perfectly normal to feel weary and to be impatient--I had to learn to be a little kid person--just wasn't in my skill set or personality--but eventually it came.
Grace and peace in the midst of the messes of life and faith to handle it all.