Do you remember getting into trouble as a child? Being put in a time-out or getting a spanking because you used a naughty word or threw a toy or simply didn’t listen. Discipline is part of parenting and part of parenting is knowing when to discipline your child and when to positively discipline your child. Yes, I realize that may sound strange, however I promise you there is a difference.
You are probably a Mom or Dad/Step-Parent/Grandparent/someone reading this that has a child or grandchild. Maybe you have multiple children. I have three children, 7 years old, 5 years old, and 1 year old. I am 29 years old, scary I know, and I have found that there is no rulebook on parenting. You cannot flip open a book that tells you how to handle every single situation there is. What to do when your child tells you that hate you for the first time. (Side story: this happened to my Husband and I around Christmas with our oldest Daughter, not fun.) What to do when they are throwing toys at each other or screaming at the top of their lungs. How to calm them down when a time-out does not work. When to walk away instead of yell because you can never take back your words…
I am a Mom and it is my number one job. Every day, my job is to make sure my tiny little humans have full bellies, clean clothes, a healthy environment, and that they are safe. That’s my job, among a thousand other things in one day. All mine. Just like yours … When you become a parent you immediately put your children first, you watch them grow and teach them new things. You change diapers for what feels like years and make dinner that they throw on the floor. You wipe their food filled faces and help teach them how to wash their hands correctly (we struggle with hand washing in our house). Your job never ends, not when they go to sleep and not when the house is quiet.
I have found that no matter what I try when it comes to disciplining the kids, it never quiet works for longer than a few weeks or months, tops. Each kid is different and they interrupt rules and directions differently than their siblings. For example a simple task for my Daughter, like putting socks on is an easy thing for to to do. Yet for my Son, there are a million questions about something else instead of that one direction he needs to complete. They are wired differently, which is okay, it doesn’t mean that he is doing something wrong or that I am parenting incorrectly. It just means that I have to approach him a little differently. For example: “first one to get their socks on gets to open the garage door”. Yes, it takes longer but we complete the task together and without tears or usually without me having to ask 200 times or start yelling.
Now, I am well aware that every family and every parent does things differently. You have your own set of rules in your house and you expect a certain behavior from your kids. So what I do in my house may be completely different from what you do in your house. That’s okay! I am not saying that one of us is doing something wrong, actually I am wondering what you do. How do you handle certain situations with your kids? How do you discipline your kids? Do you have a system your family follows? What is it?
My Husband and I have found that positive discipline works for both kids and it continuously works for our family. What is positive discipline you ask? It’s being stern without being mean. It’s coming to an agreement together instead of attacking the one who made a mistake. It’s asking questions instead of speaking for them. It’s finding a punishment instead of being completely unreasonable. It’s trying to teach a lesson without scaring them. I know what you might be thinking … and that is … discipline is discipline. Except that it isn’t. Heres’ why …
When my Son gets into trouble for not listening (for the 10th time) he gets put into a time-out when I can’t tolerate it anymore. He gets uncomfortable, he thinks it’s funny, and he can never tell me what happened. Instead of putting him in a time-out, we get on his level, we make him sit still, hands interlocked (which helps in focus), and we talk. We work through what happened, instead of trying to teach blame in that moment. Now, this does not work every time and I’ll be the first to admit that, but it helps him feel understood. We find what happened, we find how to repair it, and we help him find what to do next. We learn from each other and we move on. There is always a punishment, something we decided together. For example we had a freak snowstorm this weekend and their punishment (together, for separate reasons) was shoveling the driveway as many times as it took. Guess what … it worked. They both understood what they did wrong, they both worked hard to shovel that driveway, and they both have a positive attitude about it. Yes, there were moments of fun being had and that is perfectly okay.
You have to remember that they are only this little one time. When they make a mistake your job is to teach them to correct it. To find a way to discipline without scaring them from making mistakes. Mistakes happen and as adults we make them too. But if you take a second to think before you react, and you truly have to try to do this, it really does make a different in your relationship with your child and in your confidence as a parent. It’s taken me a long time to be calm and to slow down and to (try) not to react, even though inside I’m screaming, taking that moment to think makes the whole situation less traumatic for everyone involved.
What do you do in your house? How do you defuse a situation? What do you say? Do you make them do extra chores or help make dinner for the week? How do you turn a negative situation into a positive learning experience? …
Parenting is always evolving and you’re in charge of it. How you parent your kids is how they will learn to parent theirs. It’s how they will remember you and how they will look up to you and respect you. Take a breath before you speak and it will make all the difference. Have them unload the dishwasher instead of sit in time-out. Have them fold the laundry instead of crying in the corner. Have them write sentences instead of being grounded. Teach them. Take the time to teach instead of negatively discipline them. Be positive.
And most importantly … always remember that you are doing your best!