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Discipline: It’s Never the Same with Kids

I’ve only been a mom for 6 ½ years and one thing I’ve learned is that consistent discipline is necessary for those of us who want to raise well-mannered children who will grow to be a value to the communities they live in. While consistent discipline is necessary, that doesn’t mean it’s easy and it especially doesn’t mean that it’s a “one-size fits all” kind of thing either. Every child is different.

They have different personalities and therefore, what motivates one child to follow the rules may have no effect on another child. In addition, while a stern lecture or even a spanking may work one week doesn’t necessarily mean the same will work next week when the child acts up again. Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned from my 6 ½ year old regarding discipline is that it is ever-changing.

My husband and I are constantly thinking up different consequences for bad behavior because just when it seems like we have figured out the perfect form of discipline it seems to lose its effect on our son. I know I’m not the only parent out there who has had this issue, right? In fact, I’m willing to bet that most kids are this way. They seem to adapt to various types of punishments and eventually aren’t as worried about these consequences as they once were.

For me, at this particular stage in parenting (I know my view will change as my kids get older), staying on top of the discipline game is the hardest part of parenting. The reason it’s so dang hard is because I know it needs to be done (when I don’t want to), I have to be consistent in it (I can’t let things “slide” or the behavior will get worse, and I have to keep up-to-date on which particular type of discipline is working for my son on this particular day/week.

Of course, like I said above, after a while of the same discipline tactics, my son begins to slack off a bit because he isn’t worried about the consequences. After all, he’s been through it before, right? Therefore, I’m constantly trying to keep a short list of unique forms of discipline to fall back on when the discipline of choice stops working.

Below are just a few creative discipline strategies I’ve come up with that seem to work (for a while).

  • Bedroom Grounding – As my son is only 6, we don’t ever “ground” him for longer than one evening and generally this is reserved for when he misbehaves at school and the teacher sends a note home. My son loves to be where all the action is so he hates being confined to his room for the evening. When he is in his room for the evening, the only time we allow him to come out is to take a shower, work on homework and eat dinner. And there have been times when we have had to bring him dinner to his room because he didn’t seem to be taking his punishment very seriously. (He hates eating dinner in his room) As I said, this is probably our most severe punishment for the little guy, and since it isn’t used much, it is one of the most effective.
  • Cleaning the Backyard – Usually my husband and I help our son pick up the backyard as it gets littered with toys quite often. However, when he has a bad day, we will have him go and clean the backyard by himself – this includes using the pooper-scooper to pick up our dog’s weekly deposits. It will take him about 30-45 minutes to clean the entire back yard, and for his age, I think this is an appropriate punishment.
  • Cleaning his Bathroom – Okay, now this is one that obviously I can’t let him do alone, but it is very effective because he hates cleaning the toilet (typical boy thing, right?). Obviously I stand right there and watch him do it (while he’s wearing rubber gloves) as I wouldn’t let a child that age use cleaning supplies without supervision. I also don’t expect perfection because he is only 6, but I expect him to do it with a good attitude. Once the stool is clean, I have him clean the countertop and sink. I leave the mirrors and floor for me to do (and I usually go back over the toilet once he’s in bed too). This may sound a little harsh, but it is another effective punishment.

Above are just a few of the creative discipline techniques I have used, but there are plenty more. For me, it’s not so much the type of discipline that is important, but that we stay consistent in our disciplining that is the most important. If we let our kids get by with one thing today, then they will probably do it again tomorrow…and eventually it will morph into something different altogether.

Therefore, staying consistent is really the most important thing. Not only will it ensure that our kids grow up to be men/women who are respectful, have good character and are a value to their respective communities, but when we discipline our children (in a loving manner), we reinforce the fact that we love them very deeply, which is something every child should know.

How to Raise Children who Care about Others

I’m not sure about you, but lately I have been noticing just how rude and inconsiderate people are towards one another. While most of us have come to realize just how self-centered the majority of adults are, a lot of us don’t think about kids being the same way. However, the sad truth is that they are just as guilty as adults.

The difference between children and adults is that adults know better and it’s us, the adults, who are raising the children. Therefore, in most cases, the behavior of rude and inconsiderate children is a result of what they are learning from their parents at home.

Personally, I do not want to be responsible for turning young adults out into the world who only think about themselves and don’ t care about the people surrounding them. These are not the people who are going to further their communities and help make a difference in the world. So, as a parent, what can I do to raise kids that care about others?

  • Show compassion. Think about it. How are children supposed to learn how to be compassionate towards others if they are never shown compassion? I have to admit, I have found myself being less than compassionate towards my children from time to time. Like the time, my son ran into the slide in our backyard because he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going. Instead of asking if he was okay, I laughed and said, “you’re okay – brush it off and get back to playing.” Yes, my son was okay and I could tell he was by the way he was acting, but he didn’t necessarily feel that way right at first. If I want my children to show compassion towards others, then I have to be careful as to teach them what compassion is through my actions.
  • Help those in need. I do believe that it’s important to help those in need, but this isn’t something that I have always felt strongly about. I can remember my mom always taking the time to help those who needed help when I was young, but as a young child I would get annoyed because it was keeping us from the fun things we had already planned. However, today I can see how much she cared for others by the way she took the time to help those who needed it. And, she taught me the importance of helping others by helping others in front of me. While many of us donate money and other tangible items to those in need, how many of us take the time to stop what we’re doing and help people when we are on our way somewhere – with the kids in tow? Show your kids what it means to help others in need because this is a learned behavior.
  • Don’t give them everything they want. It can be difficult to tell our kids “no” when they ask for something that we know they would enjoy, but it’s important that we don’t teach them that they get everything they want just because they want it. I recently saw a story about a teenage girl who was trying to sue her parents because they refused to continue paying for her private high school education (they stopped paying because she refused to abide by their rules). The girl was trying to get the judge to order her parents to pay for the remainder of her high school education and her college education. Thankfully, the judge ruled against this girl, but the issue to me was that this girl felt entitled to get what she wanted. This isn’t okay. When kids begin to feel entitled to things, they get very self-centered and become rude and inconsiderate of others. One of the only ways to prevent this from happening is for parents to not give in to their children’s every whim. If there is something that they want then show them how they can earn the money to buy it – don’t just give it to them.
  • Talk kindly to one another.  For some reason people tend to take the people they care about the most for granted, yet treat others more respectfully. If you want to teach your child to care about others and their feelings, you have to start by treating those at home with more respect. Talking kindly to one another (at home, as well as, out in public) is one of the best ways to instill an attitude of respect in your children because they learn how to treat people by watching how you treat people, especially by how you treat your spouse and your children on a daily basis.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you have any additional ideas for how parents are to raise children to be kind and compassionate towards others?

Clutter and Kids

Last night my husband and I were able to visit with a couple that we have gotten to know pretty well over the last year. This couple is younger than we are (mid-20s), newly married (3 years) and they don’t have children yet. They have just moved to the same town that my husband and I live in and so we were bringing them our push mower to borrow until they can get one of their own. Naturally, we stayed and visited for a couple of hours while our almost 1-year old crawled around the living room and the 5 year old played Angry Birds on the iPad.

Christy, the wife, has managed to get about half of their boxes unpacked already and most of her furniture arranged in the way that she wants it. (I fondly remember the days when I was able to work uninterrupted…too bad I didn’t appreciate it when I had it!) Anyways, while we were talking we got to talking about our husbands and how they like to just shove things in places when they don’t know where to put them (instead of just asking).

Of course our husbands were both right there and contributing their thoughts and trying to defend their actions with good-natured humor. At one point Christy and her husband got in a playful argument about how everything has its “spot” and how much simpler things are when they both keep the items in their respective places. I looked at my husband during this playful argument and we both just laughed. Our friends both looked at us like “what’s so funny.”

I informed them that I remember the days when Beau and I had a place for everything. It was great…and then children came along. Now our house constantly looks like a tornado went through it and it is next to impossible to keep things in their respective places with little people in the house who think all of our possessions are their personal toys.

I love my children dearly and understand that this is just part of parenting young children. I know that it will get better, but right now (and probably for the next 10 years) this is where we are at. To be frank: I’ve accepted it. I choose not to stress myself out over the fact that my son insists on hanging his play jeans up next to his church suit. Or that I’m constantly finding his toys under the couch, on my dining room table and in other non-toy places. Yes, I do make him pick up his toys when I find them, but I’ve chosen to accept that he’s still a kid and clutter just comes with having kids. My husband, on the other hand, still hasn’t accepted this fact quite yet…but he will eventually.

I guess my post was inspired by my amusement from the conversation we had with our childfree friends last night. I remember the early years of our marriage and life without children. I wouldn’t trade my kids for anything, but I remember how easy it was to keep things in a nice, orderly state and not having to rush around like a crazy person when expecting company and there are days when I’m just a little bit envious.

What about you? Have you accepted the clutter that comes with children or are you like my husband and still fighting it?