Have you ever asked more experienced parents what they wish they would have done differently in parenting had they known what they know now? What about the boundaries that they are so glad that they held firm to?
We all come into parenting with expectations of what we will do and how it will be. But not long into the journey something sneaks up behind us, catching us off guard. Continuing our series started in 2023, discipline is one area that is filled with blind spots.
Melanie and I share on every podcast that we are “two moms who have made a lot of mistakes but have found grace and peace along the way.” Today we share some of our discipline mistakes and what we learned through each.
What is discipline?
Before we dive into the blind spots of discipline, I think it is important to define discipline. We see discipline as the way we train our children to obey our rules, which in turn is obedience to the Lord. Because we all have children who want their own ways, sometimes consequences are needed to correct the disobedience. But when possible, discipline always involves quality training to hopefully avoid the disobedience.
Discipline Blind Spot #1
Melanie encourages us to consider the temperaments of our children. This means becoming a student of your child to know what is best of that child. For example, Little Man needs to know that I believe in him. The harsher my words are to him, the worst his behavior is. This means that in his defiance I say one-liners like “I know you can make the right choice.” And, “You are a man of honor and integrity.”
Discipline Blind Spot #2
There is a reason why you can purchase mugs and t-shirts with the slogan “Tired as a Mother” on them. There ain’t no tired like a mommy who spent all night cleaning up after a sick child or consistently disciplined a child 15 times in 3 hours. But I didn’t realize just how much sleep (or lack thereof) would affect my ability to make wise parenting choices. I had to learn to be very attentive to my sleep as well as that of my children. Melanie shared that she also gave herself “timeouts” to gather control. It is so important that we be proactive and responsive, and not reactive, which can commonly occur in exhaustion.
Discipline Blind Spot #3
How many times have I panicked thinking I didn’t know what to do when in reality my “toolbox” of parenting tools was sitting beside me waiting to be picked up. Early in parenting I thought every situation needed a specific tool for a specific response to get a specific result. I learned that I actually only need 2-3 tools that I use consistently. A counselor once told me that isn’t as important what the consequence is, but that the child knows a consequence will occur.
If you don’t have a parenting toolbox that you can immediately use, check out the ABCJesusLovesMe Biblical Parenting Video series.
Discipline Blind Spot #4
In talking through this topic on the podcast, as young moms Melanie and I both didn’t grasp the importance of training. We didn’t understand how vital it was to lay the groundwork for success. Had I focused more on training than consequences, I believe my home of littles would have been calmer. For example, I too frequently told my child to “Stop ______.” This could be stop touching, stop tapping your foot, stop talking. But you must replace every negative behavior with a positive option. Whining, screaming, hitting, etc. must be replaced with calm talking, kind hands, and inside voice. To be successful outside of the home, a child must receive training and practice at home to instill the positive behavior.
Discipline Blind Spots #5
There are two ditches that parents fall into.
#1 – Over talking and explaining. Shepherding a child’s heart to death.
#2 – Under talking. Not providing the child with the information needed to grow.
Our words are important as they will either edify or teardown. Ecclesiastes 6:11 says, “The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?” When you are training, words are important. We should answer relevant questions on an age-appropriate level during training. But when disobedience occurs after the training, turn the words off. Share a consequence and move on. Our kiddos are smart. We don’t need to reexplain why throwing a toy that hits a sibling was a bad choice.
One more point about words. Don’t allow people around you to only hear the negative about your kids. Make your child known for who they are, not all of their poor choices and the frustration you feel in your home. Speak life into your kids through the words you say to others.
Your Side Mirrors
As I look over this list, I am reminded of how many discipline mistakes I made in those early years of motherhood. But through His Word, wise people around me, and an open heart, God has brought me through.
So, look in your side mirrors. If these 5 tips haven’t come up yet, they will. But now you are prepared.