Discipline

CREATIVE DISCIPLINE

Growing up, I remember hearing of a man who tried to use the HOV carpool lane by putting a dummy in the front seat. He was caught on more than one occasion, and the judge gave him a choice. Did he want jail time, or did he want to stand on the corner of a busy street with his ‘passenger’ holding a sign that read, “Don’t be a dummy and cheat the HOV lane”? The man picked holding up the sign but was so convicted of his wrongdoing, he later wrote to the judge and said it worked. In parenting, sometimes we need to discipline their flesh, and other times we need to discipline their heart. Holy Spirit loves giving parents creative ideas to help parent children. 

Character Counts is a downloadable resource that gives you many creative, easy ways to go after character training in children. Character Training SOAR Magazine – Let the Children Fly

HOW TO DISCIPLINE

Testimony from a mom in class: “God wants me to ask HIM how to discipline! I have been having a hard time with my oldest (just turned 2) because she is the child that is so very different from me. All of her giftings and personality are beautiful and breathtaking, but sometimes I just feel like she and I are on different planets, and I don’t know how to deal with her. I have been wallowing in guilt and shame the last month because she has gone full-on with testing boundaries, telling me no, and throwing temper tantrums. In these moments, sadly, I had been losing my temper and punishing her by yelling, spanking, putting her in her room, and being angry with her. I would know it was wrong immediately afterward, cry and apologize to her, ask for her forgiveness, and we would hug and go on with our day, but the shame I felt from reacting poorly was eating away at me. I asked Holy Spirit to help me, and I hadn’t been losing my temper or spanking her angrily, but still not having a good time with her outbursts. I was reading the teaching one morning when I started to become frustrated with my daughter because every time I went into the kitchen, she started crying and screaming and getting between me and the cabinets, trying to push me over. When I got down on her level to try to talk to her, she again nearly pushed me over. Unhappy with her behavior and physicality, I whisked her off to her room and told her, ‘It’s not okay to push Mommy and treat me this way!’ Then I felt that nudge to do something different, what Lisa had been talking about. So I stopped and prayed, ‘Holy Spirit, can You come and show us what’s going on?’ After a minute, I asked her if He had shown her what was wrong, and she nodded her head yes. Since she doesn’t speak in sentences yet, I asked Holy Spirit what happened, and He reminded me that my husband always cooks with her when he’s home. He has been working out of town for a month and is only home on the weekends, and she was missing her daddy. I asked her if she missed her daddy and big crocodile tears flowed silently down her cheeks as she nodded yes and buried her head in my shoulder. After we had our cry and went back to playing, she was fine and didn’t have any problems. It felt like such a victory to go from the frustration and anger I’ve had in recent weeks to releasing her in power to get her emotions out and have a healthy relationship for the rest of our day!”

CHARACTER IS KINGDOM

It is very difficult for a child to release the Kingdom at the store if they are on the floor pitching a fit because you did not buy them a toy. They will have a harder time hearing God’s voice if they haven’t been taught to listen to yours first. You will have a greater challenge getting them to be ‘others’ focused if they have been taught that they are the only ones that matter. Character matters!

EQUIPPING THEM WITH SKILLS

Parenting is a verb that unfolds over time. We do not sit our children down when they are two and tell them everything there is to know about life. We grow and roll with them as they develop and mature. The same is true for safety. Children under five are mainly going to be with mom and dad, so their world is different than the child who is at the age of going to school, sleepovers, playing with neighbors alone, etc. Giving them the language and tools to be safe will open wider and wider over the years, eventually having them walk out your door prepared with tools to be successful, healthy, functioning adults. When new situations arise (playing alone outside, going to school, sleepovers), you first have to ask yourself, “What have I, as the parent, done to teach them about this in the time of peace?” When a child is begging to go play with the neighbors, that is not the time to teach. Your YES should be dependent upon: #1. Have you equipped them with how to handle that situation in the time of peace? #2. Do they have the skills and responsibility to be successful? Sending them out the door, to the neighbors, or even at school without first preparing and arming them with tools gambles with their success. 

DISCIPLINE

A mom and dad were asking me about how to discipline their daughter who would put up a fight at bath time. She would try to get out of going upstairs for the bath but then enjoy it once she was in. When the dad would say that it was time to get out, she would stand up right away and then fight him. He was concerned for her safety. Something wasn’t sitting right in my heart that this was a character or discipline issue. We asked Jesus together. Jesus revealed that when she heard “bath time,” she knew it meant the bedtime routine, and she didn’t want the day to end. When Dad told her to get out of the bath, she obeyed right away but then realized getting out meant saying goodbye to her dad. She was struggling with missing him during the day. She wasn’t being defiant; her heart was saying, “Daddy, I love you so much and do not want to have to let you go again. I want to spend more time with you.” GAH. Jesus is the best at helping us see what is going on inside of our children. I have to add seeing the dad’s reaction to what Jesus showed him is probably going to be etched in my mind forever. So so so precious.

CAN I HOLD YOU?

My friend told me about a story with her son, and I think it is GLORIOUS. Her adopted son had a rough year with his dad moving out and his big sister moving away. He recently spent time at his dad’s house while his parents were in town. The young boy returned to his mom’s house and was OUT OF CONTROL! Yelling, kicking, hitting, screaming – unglued. She shared how she normally would have exercised some serious authority over his behavior and would have dealt firmly with him for his outburst. But she could see he was hurting and said, “Buddy, can Mommy hold you for a moment?” He was hesitant but eventually came to her, put his face in her neck, and just wept. He woke up the next morning back to himself again. There is a time and place to discipline a child for negative behavior, and there is a time and place to partner with Holy Spirit and move in the opposite spirit. This boy was simply trying to express the BIG emotions going on inside of his heart. He needed the security of a mother’s love, and whatever was causing his heart so much agitation was released through her affection.

LOVE WORKS

Do not just take my word for it. Hear what moms and dads around the globe are saying about their own experience learning how to speak their child’s language. 

“It is so true that when there is conflict, it is usually because a love tank is low. However, we often see it as a discipline issue, and when we punish, we withdraw from it more. I like seeing that visual image of it – it all makes sense now! We determined what love language each of our kids gravitate towards & made an intentional effort to fill them. The results were immediate & noticeable! It was as if their cup was running over & they had extra to share. Really neat! I’ve been spending 5-10 mins extra in the morning connecting with my 3yo (‘filling’ his love tank), and our transitions to daycare in the morning have been seamless. In the past, he struggled with that transition and would scream, cry, and cling to us as we tried to leave. Now he gives us a hug and a kiss goodbye and is then excited to go play with his friends! Teaching them to know not only their own but also their siblings’ is brilliant! Filling their bucket is so important. I need to be as intentional about that as I am about making sure they eat their fruits and vegetables. Ha! I am really seeing the need to take time out in the day with my busy work at home and make sure each child gets their tank filled. I have seen where I have not been laying myself down in this area and getting worn out. I even feel like if I can make some sacrifices to do this, I will feel more rested because the kids won’t be as demanding. I am so excited to try and teach my kids about the love languages for sibling rivalry. It makes so much sense. Thank you for planting the seed that when siblings are fighting, love tanks are low. I see the importance for all of us to know each other’s love language! A lot of times when our daughter starts acting out, we know that she is really just needing attention and connection. However, what she usually wants to do is spend quality time playing games, reading books, etc. While this is fine for me at times, I tend to be a pretty solitary person, so actively engaging all the time can be quite difficult when all I’m craving is some peaceful, quiet time alone. That said, I need to start doing these things because I don’t want her to be missing out on connecting with me just because it’s uncomfortable for me. We had this emphasized. Our 5yo was spiraling down when I arrived at the friend’s house she’d been staying with while I ran errands. The simple act of me offering a hug and giving the gift of sharing my tea was enough for her to be able to relax and be happy. Hubby has noticed that on the days he makes a conscious effort to play with each girl when he gets home from work, it makes a huge difference. Love this lesson! I asked all of my kids what they thought their love languages were, and they each identified a different one, and we had a great conversation about how we give and receive love. The hardest one for me is ‘gifts,’ and my middle one has that one. This really encourages me to keep finding ways to connect with my kids through THEIR love language and not my own!”

STRONG-WILLED CHILD

How do you tell a strong-willed two-year-old no? Just like that, “NO.” When Lauren was still in her highchair, she would throw her Cheerios on the floor and then laugh watching me pick it up. She thought it was a game. How many of you know that getting mad at a clueless child is completely ineffective in creating change? If the behavior does not bring honor, respect, or peace, then I need to parent (verb) her in that area to HELP HER know what is and is not acceptable. Do I want her to go to a friend’s house and do that? Is it cute to throw food on the floor when she is four? This has little to do with food and everything to do with self-control and respect. I said in a loving, but firm tone, “Lauren, no-no throwing food on the floor.” If she did it again, I would repeat myself but squeeze her hand. It was done in an effort to get her attention, not create punishment or pain. No means no, and she is learning she does not have the freedom to do whatever she wants whenever she wants. She did it again, and I realized she needed more help. I cleaned up breakfast and then moved her booster seat to the floor and asked her to sit in it. I connected with her by laughing. I was not scolding, punishing, or upset with her. I was teaching a toddler how to be successful at the table. I put a Cheerio on her tray and role-played me picking it up and throwing it on the floor pretending to be her, but then said in a loving but firm tone, “No-no throwing food on the floor,” and I got her out of the booster and told her to pick it up. When she did, I praised her silly with a hug and positive reinforcement. The next time I sat her in the highchair, I said in a firm but loving tone, “No-no food on the floor” as a reminder and put a small amount of food on her tray. She decided to test how serious I was, so I immediately took off her tray, got her down and lovingly, but firmly told her to hand me the Cheerios. It only took two times for her to realize it is SO NOT FUN having to get down and pick them up. Before she had no concept of the reality of someone having to pick them up, but she learned and never did it again. 

DECREASE FOOLISHNESS

Going to the library with four little ones was no small task, but I was determined. I discovered this glorious thing called “Toddler Story Time,” which to me meant someone else could take the lead, at least for a few minutes anyway. I was mortified at what my eyes saw. The senior librarian welcomed the children, but not one person in the room responded. She sat down to read the book, and chaos broke out. Kids were running all over the room as loud as they could be. No one seemed to care that she was trying to read to them. My shock morphed into judgment when a child began to play tug of war with the book that the librarian was trying desperately to read, and the mother did not feel led to assist the librarian in getting her book back. Before I knew it, my four joined the circus. I vowed I would never come back again. A week later, we were at the movie theater, and the same thing happened with kids running all over the place, making it impossible to actually watch the movie. Suddenly I realized what Proverbs 22:15 meant when it says, “A child’s heart has a tendency to do wrong, but the rod of discipline removes it far away from him.” Many of us know the ‘spanking’ part of this verse, and we get lost in the debate if children should be spanked. We need to zoom out of that debate and see the bigger picture. Children are foolish by nature. They are selfish by nature. They are immature by nature. Their brains aren’t even fully developed by nature. My job as a parent is to lead them in the direction of honor, respect, kindness, and self-control. This is not a post on spanking, but it IS a post on parents guiding their child’s behavior as a shepherd cares for their flock with their rod. When a sheep is wandering outside of the safety zone, a shepherd uses his rod to guide him back and lead them where they should go. The heart of this verse is about helping our children move away from foolishness through corrections and guidance. If you want to decrease their foolishness, you have to increase your teaching.

FUNNEL PARENTING

Picture a funnel. Do you give your child so much freedom at an early age and then, as the year’s progress, begin to take away their freedom? Or do you start with smaller freedoms and gradually increase it as they display self-control to be able to use freedom wisely? Oftentimes, parents have this mentality that if they put restrictions on their small child, they are breaking their spirit, harnessing them, and controlling them. I beg to differ. When we allow our children to do whatever they want whenever they want, we are teaching them that the world is open and free. While that may be a perfect world, it is not the reality in which they live. The truth is if they steal, they will go to jail. If they speed, they will pay a fine. If they do not pay taxes, the IRS will knock on their door. The world is full of consequences and models God’s principle of reaping and sowing. There will be a time when you will have to say NO to your child, yet the more you teach them they can have whatever they want whenever they want it, the harder the battle will be for them when reality hits. Let’s flip the funnel upside down and limit their freedom as they have the self-control to manage themselves. We do not allow a one-year-old to climb the stairs because their little legs are not strong enough to carry them. We do not allow a ten-year-old to drive a car because it will create greater harm. The same applies to our parenting. You are not stifling them; you are building them up for success for the long haul.

P.S. Teenagers do not like their freedoms taken away! You will have fewer battles down the road if you start out small and build upon them. Entitlement is a tricky thing to break.