Friday, January 7, 2011

Discipline Mistakes Most Parents Make

Today on Facebook one of my fellow Catholic Mom bloggers shared a link to this Parenting Article by Ginger Plowman on the Christian Broadcasting Network. So I read through the list of mistakes and I have to say I was guilty of nearly all of them! Aaaahhhhh! I really liked the effective parenting tips they gave at the end of the article. So I thought this was worth blogging about. I'll list the mistakes and give examples highlighted in red where I've made them.

Bribing.  To bribe a child into obeying is to motivate him wrongly.  Bribing encourages children in selfishness, as their motive for obeying is personal gain... Children should be taught to obey because it is right and because it pleases God, not to get a reward. The Bible says, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (Colossians 3:20). We should simply state the standard and follow through with consequences when that standard is violated.
Okay so I don't know how many times I've said, "Madeline and James if you behave well while we shop then I'll let you get a candy when we check out." Or "Madeline and James if you keep misbehaving then we won't go to McDonald's later like we planned."

Counting to Three. As we train our children to obey us we are ultimately training them to obey Jesus. Do we want our children to obey God the first time, the second time, or the third time? When we count to three, we cause our children to get into the habit of delayed obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Counting to three encourages them to put off obeying until absolutely necessary. We want our children to view obedience as their best option, not a choice that is put off until the last minute.
Guilty on a daily basis, both Stephen and I! Whether it's us asking the kids to stop doing something, to start doing something, or to do as they are told. I must say though, by the time we reach 3 whatever we are asking or telling gets done. But I understand what the author is saying here by teaching them delayed obedience. Although I witnessed Madeline's school teacher counting down as the kids picked up any messes in the classroom. Also when we count to 3 on the rare occasion it doesn't work, the kids have a consequence and we follow through on that.

Appealing to their emotions.  Parents often try to appeal to the emotions of the child by making them feel guilty. “After all I do for you, this is how you repay me,” moans the parent with a sad face.  It’s easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves and think that our children “owe us” obedience.  However, we want our children’s motives for obeying to come from a heart to please God not from a parent inflicted guilt trip.
Guilty again, at least with Madeline I recall saying something like this. And usually it's because it's at my wits end. The last time I recall I said something like "You know it makes mommy and God disappointed that you don't obey me, why do you behave well for your teachers but not me!?". So I guess I was half wrong there by trying to make her feel guilty for behaving well for her teachers and not me. I do try to explain to her that it pleases God when she honors and obeys us. Guess I need to explain that better.

Repeating or going back on instructions.  In studying some the most of admirable and successful generals of our country, I have found that they all had one thing in common:  they were certain of their commands before they issued them.  Soldiers do not respect or respond well to an uncertain and inconsistent leader.  Paul said it best in 1 Corinthians 14:8, “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (NKJ)  Likewise, when Mom issues half-hearted commands to her children and doesn’t require her children to follow through immediately, she sends them mixed signals.  Not only will this sort of leadership earn Mom the “most wishy-washy in command” medal, but it will also cause her children to question their own positions in the family.  They will become uncertain of when and how to respond to Mom’s instructions.  This can lead to insecure children who are unsure of their own actions.  However, when we lead our “troops” with confidence, they find security and stability in their call to obedience. 

We should never issue a warning or command without following it through. This rule of thumb requires that we think before we speak. In Matthew we are told, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). We should try not to say “yes” or “no” to something until we are sure that it is our definite answer. According to Proverbs 15:28 it is biblical that we think before speaking: “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers.” Let us weigh our answers, give confident commands, and raise up a mighty army for the Lord!

I have to say I do try real hard to follow through with my "commands" and consequences. But there have been times where I am preoccupied, busy, or exhausted where I will just change my mind just to get Madeline or James to stop whinning. No wonder they whine sometimes, they know I can be wishy-washy in my commands sometimes.

So how do I fix these mistakes, the article gives these suggestions:

Obedience is complete, immediate, and evinced with joy.  You might teach this concept to younger children by explaining that obedience is all the way, right away, and with a joyful heart.
Madeline and James often moan and groan when we instruct them, probably because we're moaning and groaning when we're disciplining them. We definitely need to explain this concept so we ALL can have more joyful hearts when getting things done.

Don’t be wishy-washy or you’ll raise wishy-washy children who have a hard time determining when to and when not to submit to authority.  Determine the “family rules” and establish a strong family identity in Christ by expecting your children to obey authority.
I think Stephen and I already try not to be wishy-washy. But I like the idea of coming up with some "family rules" - maybe I will print them out and post them in our kitchen.

Faithfully administer consequences when children disobey. When disobedience is met with consequences children learn the law of the harvest. They learn that God has built the principle of sowing and reaping into their worlds. While administering consequences is not pleasant, it’s a prerequisite for peace: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
We are pretty faithful already with following through with administering consequences, but I'm thinking maybe our consequences need to be a little more severe than time outs on the naughty step or in their bedrooms, or cleaning an entire room up.

So what do you think about the topics this article brought up? It was very informative to me, I learned a lot and hope to apply the suggestions and tips to our family unit.


Kelly said...

that was really good. I am guilty of too many of those things as well.
Parenting is so hard!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a parent, so I can't speak about many of these, but counting to three is necessary for so many children. It is developmentally appropriate depending on the age of the child, and the child him/herself. We all process at different speeds so what is "immediate" for one person is different than another, and even in the moment. Kids need time, especially when they are in the midst of an activity that requires mental, physical, and emotional thinking to dial it back before they can just stop. As loving adults, we have the intuition to notice whether a child needs us to count slowly or quickly to three, but the predictable structure of one, two, three helps them revise their thoughts and get back on track. I'm not sure one, two, three necessarily equates with three different times. It's all the same moment. In short, don't give it up. It's healthy for your kids to have that structure and time. :)

The Geesamans said...

Guilty here on all of those too. A while back I stopped counting because the same thing occurred to me. What I've said for a long time is "Listen and obey the first time". Not that he does it, but hopefully something is sinking in. Also, lately I've been adding "Listen and obey the first time with a happy spirit". That really rarely happens, but trying to remain calm and consistent here is the key!

kell said...

Guilty of the first two for sure! I do those all the time. Parenting is not easy. Although, I like reading these articles and yes, there are some great tips to come away with, sometimes I wonder what its like for the author. There have to have been times when they were done some of those things too. Right?

Esther G. said...

Melissa, good post! I wish I could the chance to "do over" disciplining my son.