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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sticky Situations

Many years ago, when one of our children (to save this particular child embarrassment, I'm keeping this one unnamed!) was little, we stopped by Sonic (for those that know me well, imagine that!! :)  Anyway, as I looked in my passenger side mirror checking on the children, this unnamed child was picking their nose and then putting their finger in their mouth.  GROSS!

I quickly blurted out, "Don't do that!  It will make you sick!" 

To which the child replied, "It didn't when I did it last week!"

Now you tell me - what would you have said in response to that???!!  I don't really recall what I said because the reply shocked my husband and I so much! We were both trying not to laugh, but I'm pretty sure I explained to my child that germs can sometimes make you sick and that sometimes they don't, but that it was still yucky, anyway.

I thought about discipline in a different way after that episode.  Sometimes we blurt out demands or consequences, but we don't really think about what we're saying.  Could that have made the child sick?  Sure it could, but it isn't definitely going to make them sick.  If so, I think toddlers might constantly be sick all over the world!

Another time I put one of our children (our first child - our only daughter) on the "naughty chair".  She was little and I thought maybe I'd trying this time out stuff and just see how it worked.  Well, it didn't.  When my husband got home, I told our daughter to tell her daddy what she had done.  Instead of telling him about her disobedience, she blurted out with great excitement, "Daddy, I got to sit on the naughty chair!!!"  Her excitement proved to me, early on, that time out didn't work for discipline.  I'm still convinced it doesn't, but maybe it has with some so you might disagree.

These episodes taught me a few lessons about discipline:

 1. Discipline has to be fair. 
The punishment should fit the "crime".  As a parent, it's easy to let our emotions get out of control and over or under punish.  Neither extreme is good for the child - or for the parent.

2.  Discipline has to be used as a teaching moment. 
The word discipline means to train.  As a parent, that is your God-given job and obligation.  It is your responsibility to train your child in the right way.  Part of that training is teaching them right from wrong and giving appropriate consequences for continuing to do wrong.

3.  Discipline has to be consistent. 
The worst thing a parent can do is to be inconsistent.  Being inconsistent undermines all previous discipline and sets the child up to misbehave.  Parenting is hard work, but it's a lot less hard when the discipline is consistent.

4.  Discipline has to be done in love - always.
No matter how you choose to discipline your child/children, it must be done in love.  Not disciplining a child, in my opinion, is just as much child neglect as not feeding them or clothing them.  And, of course, over-disciplining them to the point of physically abusing them is the other extreme.  Both extremes are harmful to the child.

5.  Start discipline early.
This lesson was first told to me by my brother-in-law when we were expecting our first child.  I remember that our first child was about 9 months old when she began trying to exercise her own "free will".  From that moment on, discipline began, and she (at least up until this point!) has been an easy child to raise. 

6.  Realize that each child is unique.
Child #1 was mentioned above. 
Child #2 has been even easier, but I think that's because he's a boy and his personality is pretty low key.
Child #3 came along and was a little bit different.  He had a different temperament - a different personality.  From age two until last year, he heard many, many, MANY talks about self control.  Would you believe that this year - at age 12 - he rarely has to have those reminders from me?  Would you believe that today he mentioned that he realizes that he has learned how to have self-control? He told me an example from today's P.E. class?  That's great!  I'm so proud of him and his hard work! 
Child #4 is only 8, so I am not sure about him, yet, except that his discipline and personality has been even different. (You will know this if you read my "The Chronicles of Biscuit" posts, which are all about #4!!)  Because #3 was harder to figure out, I think I was even harder on #4, but so far he's a pretty good, easy-going kid. 

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
Proverbs 1:8

Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.
Proverbs 20:11

1 comment:

Wa Wa Waughs said...

Great tips for new parents! It is so amazing how wonderfully unique each one is, huh?

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