Over the last couple of years, we have begun to think of certain parts of our parenting as gifts we are giving our children. Have you ever thought of discipline/correction as a gift? It really helps change my outlook to think of it that way, especially when the children seem slow to respond. Rather than getting discouraged with attitudes or frustrated with a lack of obedience, I am resolved anew when I think about giving them the gift of discipline, all wrapped up in a neat package and a fancy bow. (Too extreme? I know, sometimes my package is slapped together with wrinkly tissue paper and scotch tape, too. Messy, but still a gift.)
Just think about your parenting journey. There are long days when nagging, harping, reminding, and administering consequences abound. And then there are days when you feel like your resolve is paying off. After weeks of working on whining , for instance, you suddenly notice that it’s been a whole week since you’ve had to remind anyone to stop whining. How much happier everyone is because that little thing has been overcome!
Consistent discipline is exhausting. It’s not for the lazy, although let’s face it: we all get a little lazy from time to time. Still, resolving to help our kids through their issues with consistency is giving them a gift that will last forever. Instead of being labelled as a whiner, your child is known for his or her agreeable nature. BOOM. By taking the time to work it out, you have changed your child’s future and given them tools to overcome whining, perhaps to even help siblings and friends overcome it as well! Of course, we all know that whining is a life-long battle, at least it is in my heart. All the more reason to get at the roots while they are young.
So it may not seem like such a big deal that you pulled your newly walking toddler off the stairs for the 28th time today, but eventually she won’t even bother to try climbing them, because she knows it’s no use. BOOM. She’s safer and she knows and appreciates at least one more of her little boundaries. What a gift!
I’ve seen a couple of really helpful articles on parenting recently and thought I would pass them on eventually. Now seems as good a time as any. The first is a list of 15 tools for parents from Randall Goodgame. They are so creative but also really practical and positive. (Remember, even consistent discipline doesn’t have to be stern and accompanied by a frowny face all the time, although there is certainly a place for those things, in my book.)
The other one is just a list of really basic tips that are easy to forget from day to day. (Most of them are spot on, in my view, while a couple, like the “hug and kiss everyone” rule could use adjusting. We don’t ask our kids to hug or kiss people that aren’t family or really close friends.) Still, so many of them can make life much more pleasant for everyone if put into practice consistently. When I was reading through it, I noticed that there were several things from the list that our family has adopted over time. (Others we could definitely use a little help with.) For example, the “5 Minute Rule” is something we started doing with our first child and it has carried through. Imagine, as a child, how much easier it is to transition from play mode to time-to-go-home-and-go-to-bed mode if you know it’s coming and aren’t just whisked off to the car in an flurry. It’s an easy thing and demonstrates to our children that we respect them.
So, if being consistent in your parenting has you bogged down, as it’s sure to on occasion, try thinking of it as a gift you are giving your kids. We all love to give our kids things that will make them happy, right? This is just another one of those things. Discipline is another area where we are imitating our Father, showing our little ones the path of life with correction that is for their good –not trying to justify them before God by paying them back for their sins. It’s about their joy!
If reading these things is discouraging to you, just start with a few. Don’t try to change the world all at once…just take one step at a time.