When people ask me about parenting they are often referring to discipline-type issues and my opinions on those– my “General Plan” if you will. I was asked recently to share some thoughts on discipline at a parenting seminar. This required me to put my thoughts in writing (to save the listeners my ramblings). I’ll one of those with you today… I’d love to hear your feedback based on your experiences.
1- High Expectations- I’ll go ahead and say it… I have extremely high expectations of my children. This runs the gamut- from house help (chores sounds so “Cinderella”-esque) to school to manners to… to…. That being said, my expectations are not always met. My theory is that we humans tend to rise to the occasion but often do slightly less than absolutely required. I think this is pretty true for my children. “Like what,” you may ask. Well, I expect our children to help around the house. I don’t make all the messes. I don’t dirty all the laundry. I don’t eat all the food. I tell them we are a team. We work together. If we are counting on mom to pull the full weight- the ship is going down! Often my requests are “unfair”. After all, baby sister made the mess, I didn’t. I will often ask them who cleaned all their 1 year old messes. “Well, you did, mom…” It is practical, of course but it is also a life lesson. If you see mom needs help be the one to help! Offer your assistance!
2- Consistent Discipline- I just cringe when I hear parents make threats they can’t or won’t carry out- we’ve all been there! It sounds something like this, “Little Johnny, If you hit your sister one more time, you won’t play ball for the next 6 months”…. Well. That’s comical, but you get my point. If you tell little Johnny he’s going to reap a consequence (a term I like- shows THEY are the ones who have CHOSEN the punishment) then FOLLOW THROUGH. Pick something that is age appropriate and something that the child really sees as a consequence. Be creative! Our #2 son was using the word “Hate” far to freely. I decided it was time for that to end. Each time he said the word (fair enough it had become habit to a large extent) he had a consequence. It took several days of consequences- he seemed to be “in trouble” more than he was “out of trouble”… but he learned. Even now, all the kids kinda jump if they hear this child say, “Hate”. My basic approach is a behavioral approach. If the child does bad, there is a consequence. If they do good, they are rewarded. This works well for young children but has to shift to a more sophisticated approach as they get older… especially as they become tweens.
3- Unconditional Love- I love Ted Kimmel’s book, “Grace Based Parenting.” Check it out if you haven’t. We are given grace by our Lord… we should we show unconditional, grace filled love to our children. Lots of hugs, lots of, “atta-boy” talk, kisses, fun times… they will thank you for the discipline in time.