Discipline is not synonymous with punishment. To discipline is to teach. When we discipline our children, we're teaching them how to control themselves, helping them develop their moral compass, and telling them we love them.
|What would your reaction to this be, hundreds of miles from home?|
|Or this, in the parking lot just outside the apartment door?|
|It was still happening 10 years later!|
|Messes weren't limited to outside locations, either!|
So, here are some of the things we tried over the years as we taught our children. I probably learned more than they ever did, but that's the way it's supposed to work, right?
I learned early on that there are some things you can't MAKE children do, no matter how much you would like to. One of those things is to fall sleep. It took a while before I stopped saying "You have to go to sleep," and said instead, "It's bedtime; you must stay in your room." I also remember sitting in the hallway in front of their door to enforce that.
|This was not one of the times I sat at the door!|
I learned there's a difference between natural consequences and logical consequences, and when to use them. For example, the natural consequence of touching a hot stove is getting burned. However, if we're trying to keep our toddlers safe, we'll figure out another way for them to learn that lesson. A logical consequence would be to remove them from the kitchen when we see them heading to the pan of boiling water.
I learned there's a difference between a bribe (given before the desired action) and a reward (given after). Bribes don't work; rewards can.
I learned the difference between "go" and "come" - see this post.
I learned that it's easier to teach children to be obedient if there isn't a mile-long list of rules to obey. We created our family motto of Show Respect to cover ALL of the family rules.
|"Summer Hours of Worth" - Our motto helped us have a productive summer one year.|
I learned to count down instead of up. Instead of counting to 3 or 10 or whatever, I'd start with the upper number and count down. If the expected behavior hadn't changed by 0, (and usually it had), the prescribed consequence needed to happen.
I learned the importance of being consistent. It was a constant struggle! (There's a story to add here someday, about Mother's Day and Sunday television.)
I learned the importance of keeping my promises.
I learned that children need boundaries, but that they'll test them to make sure you're serious. I also learned that they'll live up to high expectations.
I learned to come up with creative solutions. Some of our favorite included the Reverence Chair, being banished from your room for 24 hours because you trashed it (and then having to help clean it up again), having a child make a middle-of-the-night bed on the floor next to me instead of climbing in with us, creating an internet password of "obeymomanddad" when computer privileges were restored to a teenager, taking family scripture study to the bedroom, and staying up late to help Mom create a new Purple-People-Eater head (after destroying the original).
One of the scriptures we reiterated over and over and over comes from the Book of Mormon - Mosiah 4:14-15 -
And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.
Many times I would tell quarreling siblings that I wanted to keep the commandments, which stated I couldn't allow them to fight, and I needed their help so I could be obedient. Often that worked at stopping the bickering. Separating offending parties might have helped as well.
One summer I focused on the phrase "serve one another" and I wish I had done that sooner. We had each child compile a list of things they would like someone else to do to serve them. Then, when we had problems with teasing, the offending parties would choose something on the list and do it. That was actually quite effective.
|I found another picture with Green Hat!|