Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is Your Discipline Getting Derailed?

Are you getting frustrated at your children’s lack of response to your discipline? Do you find them falling into the same patterns of disobedience and poor behavior over and over again, even after being punished? Do you feel like your discipline efforts are getting you nowhere?

Today we would like to offer two suggestions: 1. Be patient and 2. Look carefully for “Discipline Derailers”

I have heard parents say, “Spanking doesn’t work for my kid,” and they give up on spanking. The problem with this type of thinking is that discipline does not work overnight. There are no “quick-fixes” and it may take weeks or even months of consistent discipline to train a child in a certain area. Be patient, be consistent.

Look carefully for “Discipline Derailers.” These are things that we as parents do that sabotage our own discipline with our kids. Here are some examples:

Procrastination: Repeating yourself and then not following through until you are angry, only teaches the child that it is safe to ignore the first three or four commands. Threatening some discipline, but not following through, teaches the child that your word is meaningless. Remember, children can learn first-time-obedience, if it is expected every time.

Talking too much when the child or parent are angry: Our talking during discipline should be as brief as possible, and limited to what they did wrong and what they need to do right. Advising, lecturing, moralizing or teaching when either the adult or the child is seething with negative emotions will turn off the child’s ability to listen. Discipline should be as brief and non-verbal as possible. Verbal training should be done at positive times.

Negative Scripting: Children will believe they are, who you say they are. Don’t call them names, label them, predict a negative future or devalue them in any way (e.g. “Why are you always such a slob?”).

Bribing: Bribing will teach your child to expect rewards for obedience rather than to obey because it is right.

Making it personal: The tension should be between the child and the moral truth or principle, not between the child and you. Parents say things like, “I don’t want to listen to you whine anymore,” or “after all we have done for you, this is how you repay us?” or “I am sick and tired of your tantrums.” All of these statements make the parent the center of the issue and put the tension between the child and parent. Alternatives would be, “We don’t whine. Please use your big boy voice and I will listen to what you have to say,” or “If you don’t get up off the floor, you will have a time out.”

Anger: We believe one of the biggest “Discipline Derailers” is anger. When we get emotionally involved, and our anger gets the best of us, we have lost control of ourselves, control of the situation, and the respect of the child. How can we expect our children to control their impulses when we are not in control of our own? When we yell, get sucked into intense arguments, slam doors, call names, or belittle the child, we have sabotaged our efforts at discipline.

We should speak to our children in a calm and respectful way, and deliver consequences in a godly and empathetic manner. Add to that, a lot of patience and consistency, leading by example and a whole bunch of prayer, and we are on our way to leaving a Passionate Legacy in the lives of our children.

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