We dream of being a mom.
The moment finally comes, and the doctor places that beautifully fragile gift in your arms, and you begin the most beautiful, heart-wrenching, trying adventure you could imagine—motherhood!
It’s funny how when we dream of motherhood, we only dream and fantasize about the great moments.
We anticipate all the milestones—their first word, first step, the first day of school.
We wonder what they will look like, what their personality will be, and what they will go on to do with their life.
What don’t we dream about when dreaming of motherhood?
You guessed it—discipline!
Oh, the dreadful day when we see that glimmer in the eye of our precious child wanting to defy our instruction.
We say, “come here,” and they run the other way.
We say, “don’t touch,” and they reach their finger out to touch the very thing we instructed them against touching.
Have you ever wished these precious children came with instruction manuals!?
I sure have!
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do have over 17 years of experience when it comes to disciplining four very different children.
Here are just a few things I’ve learned along the way in my parenting journey:
1. There is no “One Size Fits All” When it Comes to Discipline
I love reading and following directions.
I’m the girl who will read the game instructions to ensure we’re playing the game right.
So, when it came to discipline, I sought to find the formula and read all the advice out there. I devoured all the parenting books and articles I could find. I figured that I could follow the instructions of disciplining If I had the right tools.
After much trial and error, I realized that there is no “one size fits all” when disciplining children.
There are many things we must consider when it comes to figuring out how we will discipline our children:
- Our personality and demeanor
- Our partner in this parenting gig
- Other demands on our life
- Our background and history
All these factors and more will come into play as we discern how to discipline our precious children.
2. Take Time to Learn Each Child
This next tip took having a second child to begin learning.
You see, early on, my firstborn was following along with much of the “how-to” advice from the parenting books I was reading.
We had fallen into a nice and predictable rhythm that seemed adequate for him and worked in our home.
Then I had a second baby, and boy, was she different from my first.
This reality of her differences became apparent early.
Instead of responding with remorse and tenderness when we disciplined her, she only got angrier and more defiant.
It didn’t take long to realize that we had to go back to the drawing board.
The discipline that worked with our first was not going to work the same with our second child.
We would be remiss to think that we can do the same discipline with each child and be effective. We learned that we had to try new and different things with each child because guess what?
They each came out so incredibly different.
One child comes into this world ready to be defiant at every turn, and the following aims to please and crumble at just a look of disappointment from their parent.
Parents must learn each child as we seek to discipline our kids.
3. Seek to Model what You’re Asking of Your Child
This one is tough! If only we could say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
But the old saying is true, “More is caught, then taught.”
Our kids come into the world as natural mimickers.
They watch our every move and learn about the world as they watch us (no pressure!).
There have been so many times in my parenting journey that I catch myself correcting my child only to realize that I’m doing the same behavior I’m asking them to stop doing.
If we expect our kids to be kind and courteous, we need to model that before them.
If we want them to be hard workers and helpful around the house, we need to be hardworking and willing. You get the point.
Will you do this perfectly? Nope. But, even then, you have an opportunity to model to them how to respond when you make a terrible choice.
4. Be Consistent and Follow Through
Does anybody get tired as a mom? Have you been guilty of seeing your kid disobey, but you’re too tired to get up and deal with it, so you act like you didn’t see it? Guilty! You’re not alone.
We must be consistent and follow through with whatever tools or strategies we seek to implement. If one day we take away privileges and the next day we give time out and the next day we spank or yet, we are only confusing our child.
Instead, we need to be consistent and follow through with what we say we will do.
A child should not be blind-sided by the discipline that comes. They should know that a consequence of some kind will come when they make a terrible choice.
5. Give Yourself Grace
You will fail!
I have failed many times.
- I have put too much hope in a formula for discipline.
- I have failed to recognize the needs and personality of my child.
- I have failed to model the proper behavior to my children.
- And I have failed to be consistent and follow through.
Don’t be shocked when you fail.
Instead, remind yourself you’re human and then give yourself grace.
No one perfectly nails this motherhood thing.
But one thing is sure, we all need grace! We are all on a journey of learning effective discipline for our children that will be unique to our homes.
Even though none of us signed up for or dreamed about disciplining our children, we all must consider how we’re going to do it.
So, press on, momma, you got this! Take a deep breath and do the next thing.
What will you do today to continue in your journey of better disciplining your kids?