January 23, 2017

The Best Parenting Advice Ever (from a complete non-expert) - Part Two

Yesterday I talked about the first piece of essential advice for parents: Being Consistent.  Today I am going to give you my second piece of advice. 

  • Do NOT be emotional when disciplining.  This one is oh so hard, at least for me.  I am an emotional person, and I love my son so much it is really easy for me to get incredibly emotionally involved. 
    • Why are emotions detrimental to the discipline process?  I don't know for sure.  I have a couple of ideas though, which of course, I will share here.
      • It undermines your authority.  When you are yelling and ranting at your children, or crying about their behavior it does two things.
        • It gives them power over your behavior.  Power is addictive.  They don't consciously understand this, at least not when they are little, but they do know that if they push the right buttons you end up reacting, and for some children that is reason enough to push the buttons.
        • It doesn't provide an example of self-control.  We expect our children to do things they don't want to do without throwing tantrums, but often times when our children don't behave the way we want them to we throw grown-up (or not so grown-up) temper tantrums.  It is hypocritical, which is never good, and it is making it more difficult for them to behave properly, by providing a poor behavior model.
      • You won't make the discipline decisions you want to when you are reacting emotionally.  Most people do or say things that they regret when they are angry, and this is no different with your children.  As humans we will make mistakes, but we should try our best not to, and delaying discipline until you are able to do it unemotionally is a great way to do that. 
      • It is probably less effective.  If someone is angry with you, it is human nature (at least my nature) to get angry back.  I imagine that when you send your child to time out while you are angry and yelling, they spend the time thinking about how mean you are, rather than thinking about what they chose to do that was wrong.
How do you remain unemotional about your discipline?  Well if you find a secret formula for it, please let me know!  Until then, this is what I do.
  • Leave the situation.  If you cannot control your temper or sadness, make sure your children are safe (inside, not with the chemicals, etc.) and tell them that right now you can't discipline them appropriately, so you have to discuss it with them later, leave the room, or have them leave the room.  When I am to angry, I tell my son to go to his room so I can discipline him later.  Then when I am calm I go back up and discuss what happened, then send him to the corner or take away a toy.
  • Discipline early.  Don't wait until the kids have been driving you insane all day to discipline them.  At that point you are at the end of the rope, and your patience is all gone.  Instead, every time they act up, deal with it.  This goes along with being consistent.
  • Work on your voice of authority.  You should be firm, but not angry.  Pleasant, but not cheerful (you don't want them to think that you LIKE getting them in trouble).  Having an authoritative voice can work wonders.
  • Have a plan. Have a rough idea of what you are going to do when a certain misbehavior arises. While it isn't essential that you always do the same thing, if you are having an issue with a certain misbehavior, it can be very helpful to have a plan for when it occurs. One resource for this (which I don't have, but would like) is the If-Then Chart from Doorposts.
Disciplining in love is so important.  When you react in anger, instead of disciplining your child to train them up in the way they should go, and teaching them the proper way to behave, you are punishing them for challenging you. 

While I think there are a number of other things that will really help you in training your children for adulthood, I think that being consistent and unemotional about your discipline, are the two most important things you can do. 

What do you think is the most important piece of parenting advice?  Is there one thing you struggle with the most?

January 22, 2017

The Best Parenting Advice Ever (from a complete non-expert) - Part One

I read a lot.  A large percentage of what I read is parenting books.  I am not sure why, because I can't possibly remember everything I read, and often times they give conflicting advice.  Plus, I rarely implement any of the ideas they give me, other than just reminding me to get back or stay on track with the things I know I should be doing.  I am to forgetful to do elaborate charts, plus Michael gets rather irritated when I come up with creative or detailed discipline plans.  He prefers the straightforward approach, which makes sense because it is simpler.  But I long to be the perfect mother, who strikes the ultimate balance between strict and affectionate, demanding and affirming, etc., so I continue to educate myself in the art/science of mothering.
There are two pieces of advice that I think should be at the front of every parent's mind when their children are acting up.  In my opinion, it doesn't matter your religion or parenting style (although I will mention Biblical reasons for these), doing these two things will make discipline be much smoother in your home.

Today I will talk about the first piece of advice.
  • Be consistent.  I know easier said than done right?  It is essential to your children's emotional well-being that you do your very best to keep the rules the same and enforce them.  This is actually a two-parter.
    • Avoid "credit card parenting".  That is when you allow a child to do something now that would be horrifying if they did it later, or if a group of them did it.  An example would be (at least in my home) letting your toddler jump on the couch.  No biggie when there is one tiny little one jumping on your couch.  Now imagine a group of three 5-8 year olds jumping up and down on your sofa.  All of the sudden that activity is maddening and destructive.  So, do yourself, and your children, a favor and start in the way you intend to go.  I believe this is Biblical, stemming from Ephesians 6:4, telling fathers not to provoke your children to wrath.  To be allowed to do something, and then suddenly not be allowed to, or even getting in trouble for it is certainly going to be upsetting.  I also think that children should be given more freedoms as they get older, not fewer, and allowing small children to do things that they won't be allowed to do when they get older is just setting everyone up for frustration. 
    • Don't let children get away with things you don't find acceptable.  You don't have to be insane about it.  Different situations call for different ways of dealing with the same infraction, and that is okay.  However, you do need to call attention to the negative behavior each time they do it.  Perhaps they get sent to the corner, or lose a privilege, or maybe they just get reminded that what they did is unacceptable and get removed from the situation.  It can be something different every time, but make sure something happens.  Again I think that not doing this is provoking them to wrath.  Imagine how hard it would be to be an employee to a manager who sometimes allowed you to take an hour long lunch without a word, and sometimes yelled at you or wrote you up if you took 31 minutes instead of 30.  You would probably find a new job where you could anticipate what was going to happen.  It isn't fun to be at the mercy of someone's whims.  An exception to this rule would be if your child comes to you and admits their wrong and is genuinely apologetic and didn't harm anyone else in the process of their disobedience.  That would be a time to talk to them and explain that you are showing them mercy because they were honest and talk about the mercy that our Father in Heaven offers us despite our sinful natures.
Following this piece of advice allows your children to know what to expect, and make a choice whether or not to follow the rules.  If the child chooses to disobey they are deserving of discipline.  Being inconsistent requires that they continuously test to see where the line is drawn, and don't really get to choose if the will be obedient or not.  I also think it breeds resentment.  They will become angry when they are disciplined for something that hasn't been forbidden before, and find you to be unpredictable when you discipline them for a misbehavior half the time or less.

January 09, 2017

Catechism for Young Children - Week Two

So far, my Catechism teaching hasn't been going super.  Christmas is a really busy time to try to start something new, and two of the last 3 Sundays were holidays, so we have been failing a little bit. 

However, for those of you that have memorized the first list, I have the next week's list.  I only made the traditional answers version, because I have given up on having Little Guy learn it in full sentences.  It flows better and is easier to memorize in the traditional wording, than in my fancy full sentences.

Week Two Catechism

December 18, 2016

Teaching Children About God - Children's Catechism Week One

There are thousands of resources available to help you teach your children about God.  An old-fashioned way of doing it is to teach them Catechism, a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.

I wanted to start teaching Little Guy Catechism, but couldn't find a printable, and didn't want to print off a whole long list.  So here it is: My first printable!

I am going to be sharing one list of about five questions each week.  Sometimes it might be a few less questions, because some of the answers are longer than others, and my son is only three.  If you would like to get an email when I post a new one, please sign up at the top of the sidebar!

There will be two versions.  One will have complete sentences for all answers and therefore be a little more difficult to memorize.  A version with the traditional answers from the Catechism for Young Children, which includes some phrases and fragments, is also available.  I am trying to teach my son to answer adults with complete sentences (which is harder than it sounds, for two reasons: One - when children are learning to talk, one word answers are not only accepted, but applauded. Two - I don't always model the best behavior, and this includes the way I speak) so I am continuing that while I teach him the truths of God.

Please feel free to share this post with anyone!