Parenting is harder than I ever imagined it would be. As a new mother I felt that as long as I corrected each problem that arose immediately I could stay a step ahead of any behavior issues. This was a great plan and worked well for about the first nine months of my daughter’s life. After that I quickly learned that as soon as you correct one problem a toddler will crawl right over to a new one. I knew instantly that I would need a better plan.
Our first child was fairly easy. She brought minimal challenges and when she did need to be redirected you could calmly explain to her where she went wrong just as though you were speaking to an adult.
Then came the second. He brought a host of new challenges. He seemed to find great joy in testing every thing we ever taught him.
The third child is a dream in the discipline realm. One slightly raised eyebrow in her direction will send her into total compliance.
And then came the fourth. Whew. I get tired just thinking about her.
Numbers five and six are still quite young so I won’t say much about them yet. To be continued.
I couldn’t believe how different they all were. Six children born into the same family, to the same mother and father, with the same house rules but they all responded differently to discipline.
I don’t do everything right and I often fail at this motherhood thing but I have learned a few things that may be helpful to you.
One thing I know for certain is that you can’t parent from the couch. I have learned that I become most quickly frustrated when I feel that they are interrupting me. If I am on my phone or watching a TV show I do not often respond to them with grace. Because I am aware of this I try not to do anything that requires my full attention until the kids are in bed. Now this does not mean that I make myself available to them 24/7. I have been known to sneak into my closet for a bit of silence in the middle of the day.
Secondly, and without a doubt most importantly, create a schedule. I can not overstate the importance of a schedule. If children know what’s coming they often are more emotionally prepared for it. For example, my toddler knows everyday after lunch he is headed straight to nap. He doesn’t resist or argue because he knows it’s what he does every day after lunch. My children clean the kitchen every morning without being prompted and without complaint because they know that’s what is required. It’s the same thing they do after breakfast every morning. Knowing what’s next eliminates half of the battles of parenting.
When we are on vacation or in a busy season it really shows in their behavior. They can adjust for a period of time but after a few days I can tell a huge difference in them. This reinforces the fact that a schedule truly does improve obedience and compliance.
And finally just a word about how we discipline when a problem arises. My husband, Jared, and I make every effort to discipline together as a team as often as possible. Sometimes with the smaller ones this is not possible as correction is required immediately and Daddy may be at work. When a discipline issue arises Jared and I take the child into a room and correct the issue together. This has been one of the most beneficial forms of discipline that we have tried. There is great power in the presence of both parents correcting, reinforcing and restoring a child together.
We are still in the learning years of this parenting thing but these three things truly make a difference for us. I hope that maybe you have found something here that will encourage you along the way. Most importantly, I hope you’ll pray. Pray for God’s direction and strength as you navigate the incredible journey of parenthood.