Of course, establishing proper discipline is easier said than done. In fact, the most common question asked by parents is “HOW DO I GET MY KIDS TO LISTEN?!” However, there is no “one quick-fix solution,” because so many puzzle pieces must fall into place in order for a home’s harmony to resonate. Presuming that the initial foundations of peace, unconditional love, acceptance and communication are in place, we will now explore several discipline techniques which will help us restore respect and discipline in the household.
Before we start with practical pointers, we must have a proper perspective on commanding respect. We must realize that this is not about us; it’s about them. It’s not that we need the honor of having our children speak respectfully at the dinner table. Rather, our children need this training because we want to mold the child into the perfect person we want him to become. So giving in and forgoing this respect is not a service, but rather a disservice, to the child, for we are denying him the opportunity to grow and develop properly.
One component of respect is listening to one’s parents. Therefore, we are obligated to insist on compliance.
Practically speaking, this training is best started when children are young and impressionable. It is then that you can physically “help them” to listen by taking their hand and directing them to do the required action or go to where they have to be.
When giving commands, use a firm, self-assured voice. Even young children detect when you are hesitant or unconfident. Avoid threats, warnings, and ultimatums as they undermine your authority. You can use the “broken record technique” (repeat your command in a calm, firm manner over and over until the child complies) or “when-then technique,” (When you clean up your room, you can go outside to play” instead of “if” which gives wiggling room for non-compliance.) If your child needs to have some power, give him choices and time frames, (“Please make sure the table is cleared before dinner” instead of “DO IT NOW!!!”) Whichever method you may choose to use, do not accept “no” for an answer. This is imperative, because early training sets the stage for respect for all authority throughout life.
Once children are a little older, it is the parent’s choice to be smart and selective when giving commands, demanding only that which the child is capable of fulfilling. For example, asking for something while a child is in middle of playing, or in a tired, cranky mood is setting him up for failure. Think before commanding and do not teach your child disobedience!
Try to set up routines, so that you can preempt tricky situation. When a child knows what is expected of him and is aware of the consequences if the routine is not followed, he is quicker to comply and accepts the consequence.
When you are in a situation over which you have no influence, do not exert your power, because you are embarking on a losing battle. At best, you will win while compromising your values by yelling, threatening, punishing, etc.
Remember that you too can press the pause button. Model proper behavior by thinking before you act. Use impulse control and ask yourself, “Is this the proper request at the proper time? Am I realistic that I can influence this situation? What is the best way to ask my child and set him up for success?”
In summary, start when your children are young by confidently training them to listen. As your children grow older, continue to guide them with firmness and love. Think before commanding and set up routines to avoid confrontation. Most importantly, spend time planning smart solutions at calm times, so you will know how to handle the real-life scenarios.
If you’re a grandmother, watching your babies grow into adolescents, then time whizzes.
If you’re a first-time mother, anxiously awaiting the arrival of your colicky six-month-old’s first tooth, so that you can sleep through the night once again, then time crawls.
If you’re a seasoned mother, when you’re dealing with the terrible twos and intolerable teens and trying in-betweens, then time drags. But, when you rush to make dinner before the bus beeps, settle the little ones before the next division marches in, tidy up some housework before the night slips away, then time speeds.
In reality, the clock moves consistently. It doesn’t skip a second, it doesn’t pause for a millisecond. It’s our challenge to stop pushing the clock backwards-and stop racing the clock forwards. We must aim to live with the clock, appreciating the special gift that every new present offers us.
Yes, we have lofty goals for our children’s future. However, we have to be understanding of their “growth capacity” in the present.
It’s crucial to realize that growth is a gradual process. Plants don’t sprout overnight. Neither do children. While you anxiously wait for your offshoots to blossom, you may see very little apparent improvement. Yet, deep underground, all your nurturing and nudging is planting seeds of growth.
It’s important for us to be patient, to realize that life takes time. How much time and effort does it take for us, adults, to master one good trait? Children are people, too. And change is difficult for them, as well. We must be understanding, encouraging and patient. Very patient and very encouraging. Then, with parental guidance, some day in the future, we will see positive results.
It’s important to realize that growth is a process. A process has steps. A person undergoes various stages. We must demand age-appropriate expectations. We must know where our children are holding, in order to help them keep on climbing the ladder. After all, we can’t expect to reach the top of a ladder if we skip pivotal rungs. Evaluate whether expectations are age-appropriate and realistic.
After all, if we push our child to do something before he’s ready, we’ll have to push. And “pushing things down his throat” breeds resentment. Once an action is associated with bad feelings, it’s very difficult to undo the damage done-even when it is already the appropriate time for the child to assume this responsibility.
Behaviors a child will outgrow, we can overlook. Behaviors that grow with the child, we must correct.”
What a powerful lesson! Sometimes, we become frustrated that our two-year-old bites, our four-year-old doesn’t share his new toy and the five-year-old fights. Of course we have to put a stop to improper behavior. However, we must realize that we are dealing with a two-year-old, who is acting like…a two-year-old. And that’s the way he’s meant to behave!
This brings us to our final thought. Enjoy your two-year-old, your ten-year-old, your twenty-two-year old. True, our children are still a “project-in-progress.” True, the process takes time. But, enjoy it while it’s here.There are so many singular joys, unique to every stage of life. We must take a moment to pause and thank God for the challenges, the triumphs, the pleasures and the pains of this special present. Because, when you think about life, it speeds by so fast. All too quickly, this special stage of motherhood, when we are the focal point in our child’s life, is replaced by new stages with different sweet moments. So, treasure the gift of the present.
I’m honored to be featured this week on Katherine’s Corner for her Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop! It’s a great blog hop where you’ll find new blogs and make new friends! So come on and link up your post for lots of exposure!
The power of the brain! What an incredible creation, made by the Creator Himself. Did you ever think about the difference of a human being and an animal? Think of the differences visible at birth. While an animal is somewhat self sufficient in a matter of hours, and can fend for themselves, an infant takes years of parental nurturing until they can be on their own. Yet, the same infant that could not even feed itself at birth, and would have starved to death without his loving parents care around the clock, surpasses the animal by leaps and bounds, as the brain matures and grows. Watch the movements of an infant, watch as the baby learns new tricks, as his every move ingrains in his brain a new learning experience. Soon this infant starts to recognize people, and they become part of his memory. He experiments with crawling, and rolling over, and then remembers these new movements.
At times a child is born with limitations. A part of their brain isn’t as developed as his peers or siblings. Can anything be done to compensate? Can he lead a functional life? Interestingly, even when the brain is not fully functional there are tools with which to help. Physical therapy and exercises can create new pathways in the brain. This is called nueroplasticity. It is possible to learn new tricks. Many children with disabilities receive proper therapy sessions, with parents trying to supplement extra time at home.
When parents want their child to put forth extra effort they must remember a few key points:
-Extra work must be enjoyable. Try a new machine, one that is not too strenuous, and yet helped strengthen the necessary muscles.
-Make it fun, it should not feel like a chore.
-Remember that therapy is hard work for the child, and it can hurt. Be empathetic, understand the pain. Try active listening.
-Is there a friendly teen in the neighborhood who can pitch in? Sometimes a new face can make the situation more enjoyable, and the parent will have one less thing to fight about.
Keep it short, a drop shorter than your child can handle, so he will be willing to come back for more next time around.
Try the Strider Bike – a fun way to squeeze in extra time strengthening muscles, and its so enjoy able, all the neighbors will want to try it too!
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“You really shouldn’t let your child manipulate you.”
“You really shouldn’t eat dessert. It will ruin your diet.”
How would you feel if someone told you these helpful statements? Defensive? Annoyed? Angry? If so, you are not alone. It is challenging to hear rebuke even if it is for one’s own benefit.
As parents, it is our obligation to give our children rebuke and guide them on the correct path. If we will not nudge them gently in the right direction, how will they know not to stray? At the same time, we cannot just dispense heaping spoonfuls of rebuke. At best, the child will tune it out; at worst, he will rebel. Either way, the child will most likely become crushed and broken. Giving rebuke in a positive, effective manner is a balancing act. When given respectfully and smartly, we can get our messages across and still maintain our child’s dignity. As is said by the age-old adage, “Dispense criticism like pepper and compliments like sugar.”
As you are about to give rebuke, it should be done out of love and care (put your arm around the child’s shoulder, pat his hand while rebuking him), rather than stemming from anger or embarrassment. A motive such as, “what will the neighbors think?” or “this is ruining our family reputation” is not valid. If your child has done something wrong and you are not in the state of mind to give him rebuke, either wait until your feelings simmer or have another objective party do the guiding.
When rebuking your child, choose your words carefully. Be clear. Keep it short and sweet. Sometimes, even a stern look or gesture can be enough to get a message across. Don’t use sarcasm, put-downs or comparisons. Keep your tone of voice friendly. Don’t start a discussion or argument. Try to think of a positive way of phrasing your message, such as “When your blouse is tucked in, you really look like a princess.”
Most importantly, try to preserve your child’s self-esteem and self-image. Of course, that means to give rebuke in private and to criticize the action not the person, such as your room is so messy vs. you are a slob. Your goal is to improve character traits. Below are some suggestions how to do this:
- Allow the child to figure out on his own what he did wrong. It is much easier to swallow the rebuke that way. So, instead of yelling at your seven-year-old for bossing his playmate, you can tell him, I saw how you treated your friend when he came over. How do you think he felt?
- Remember to use the skill of negative-I messages. “When I entered the living room and saw the food left by your studying team, I felt annoyed at your lack of responsibility and initiative to clean up.”
- With younger children, you can weave a message into a story about a child of the opposite gender, living in a different city…with the same challenge. Or you can find a book with a message similar to the one you wish to impart.
- You can describe what you see going on, rather than offer direction. I see toys on the floor that can cause someone to trip. You can also state rules, rather than give orders, such as when milk spills, we use a rag to clean it up.
- For children who have a hard time accepting rebuke, you can sugar-coat your words by keeping your message open-ended. For example, “You might want to consider eating breakfast today, since you need more energy to take the big test…”
- Always try to teach your child a skill rather than criticizing a given area. For example, instead of telling your son his briefcase is messy, teach him how to organize it.
- Finally, teach your child that accepting rebuke is a skill to work on. You are their role model, teaching them to accept rebuke graciously. Children must understand that to improve, we must all listen to each other’s constructive criticism.
Of course, it’s hard to master the skill of giving rebuke effectively. However, it’s even harder not to give rebuke at all and hardest to give it in a constructive way. So, keep these words of rebuke in mind…as you give your child rebuke and honest feedback.
Did you ever feel annoyed or angry at someone for giving you rebuke in an inconsiderate manner?