May 14, 2013

Dishin' out Discipline

It seems like people are lining up to give advice on parenting. I actually find myself now, as a mom of 3, having trouble biting my own tongue as I try to hold back advice to the parents of young children around me. From diaper brands and sleeping positions to nightly routines, we all seem to have the best answer, yet it's not too often that any two voices agree.
One topic I didn't hear much about before my inquisition was discipline. Being very quiet and artistic, my oldest daughter, Myah left me little reason to research the biblical principles of discipline from a parental standpoint. God has placed in her such a gentle heart, that to even see disappointment on the face of an authority figure often brings her to tears. She has a desire to make the people around her happy, and I find her bending and putting her own wants aside to ensure the happiness of the people she cares about. It's a good and godly trait to have, and we're grateful for her. Although, I find myself praying and encouraging Myah to be her own voice, and to stand for what she wants and believes in, even if it means it opposes someone else's feelings.
Thankfully, Myah has a younger sister, Natalie, who does a good job of illustrating a strong will. Natalie was born ready to take on the world! While Myah was content with whatever state she found herself in, Natalie always grabbed for more. She learned to roll, sit up, crawl and walk early. Thinking back, I remember seeing the eagerness on her face for whatever experience awaited. Natalie loves to get dirty and explore. I learned early to embrace her curiosity and despite a few disapproving glances, we've found that it's helping her to develop the "go-getter gifts" we believe God's placed in her heart. One thing about her strong will is... her STRONG WILL! Natalie is learning that just because she's ABLE to do something, doesn't mean she is ALLOWED. Somewhere between infancy and 4 years old, we may have smeared the line that once clearly divided exploration and disobedience. These are the chronicles of a strong-willed child's parent! Ha. Just kidding. As I'm sure you can guess, now is about the time I needed a good lesson from my "Mommy handbook" on discipline. I hope by now, you know what book I'm referring to.

Proverbs 22:15  Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, 
but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.

WHEW! What a relief! So, this is normal and discipline will drive it away. Ok. Great. So, what's discipline? I went to (Because I'm a geek like that:)

1. training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.
2. activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training: A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer.
3. punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.
4. the rigor or training effect of experience, adversity, etc.: the harsh discipline of poverty.
5. behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control: good discipline in an army.

I discovered that discipline is about more than spanking. We can say that discipline is a lot like training. What does it take to successfully train someone: Praise, encouragement, punishment, repetition, time, consistency, ENERGY!

This is just one of many scriptures concerning training your children. Some of this may be a refresher of what's already in your heart. I believe God has put in us moms all we need in order to bring up the next generation of successful people.
One of the most important things I've learned through this is that discipline and punishment are two different things.  My original idea of discipline was punishment, but punishment is specifically a negative response to a negative action, whereas discipline includes both negative AND positive responses. Praise and encouragement is a very important part of parenting; just as important as punishment in my opinion.
With that being said, I thought it would be fun to include a tool I have put into practice with Natalie. I picked it up from Myah's kindergarten classroom last year.

The Stop Light Chart

Green is good, yellow is warning, and red is stop!
If Natalie is having to be told more than once to follow directions or if she is breaking a well-known rule in the house, she is sent to yellow. Usually, moving her to yellow causes a change in her behavior and after long, I will find her doing something praiseworthy and move her back to green. If you do decide to use the stop light chart, I suggest there be a serious consequence for landing on red. Likewise, a job well done is worthy of reward! If Natalie ends up on green for the majority of the day, she gets a "Green Go Gumball." (Natalie loves candy and gum, but if your child is into something else, change it up! If your child is older, a week full of greens could mean Saturday afternoon soccer on the green grass! It could be money!
Natalie's "N" starts on "GO GREEN" every morning.
(This picture was taken before Natalie and I cut and colored that magnet into a capital N for Natalie.)

Lamentations 3:22-23  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, 
for his compassions never fail. they are new every morning
great is your faithfulness.

Thank God we can have a clean slate with God after repentance! Because Natalie is only 4, I think it's important that punishment doesn't illustrate to her unforgiveness. If she's reprimanded, it's quick, and then it's over. She can always start the day fresh no matter what she did yesterday. (I understand that this may change as she gets older. It might be a week away from games for your older child.) The point is that, just because she did something wrong, doesn't mean we walk around the rest of the day with a bad attitude toward her, holding the mistake over her head. We continue to walk in love toward her. 
I'm learning that as we're training up our kids, we ourselves are also in training. While this all seems to flow out of me so easily, I'm learning as I type it, and it takes DISCIPLINE to abide by it. I'm learning discipline every day, especially when I choose consistency over convenience. I've also learned that although Myah is so quiet and content, scripture on discipline is just as important for her, because now I know, disciplining your child isn't about punishing them. It's about training them. God's called us all to be disciplined people. Practice makes perfect! What tools are you using to discipline your family?

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