Spare the Rod Spoil the ChildMeaning: The notion that children will only flourish if chastised, physically or otherwise, for any wrongdoing.
- Effective Biblical Discipline
- Creative discipline ideas
- Bedtimes and Mealtimes
- Controlling the Tongue
- Forgetfulness and Lying
- Tantrums and Whining
- Approaches to Discipline
- When kids run you over
- Handling Disrespect
- Behavior and Consequences
- Why kids misbehave
The Bible Says: "He that spareth the rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes" (Proverbs 13:24) and "Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell" (Proverbs 23:13-14).
As you well know, the parenting adventure is different with each child — and it's vital to recognize and adapt to your children's various temperaments, strengths, and weaknesses. Think of yourself as a sculptor shaping and molding the lives of your young ones. With each child, you may be working with a different medium. You could be endeavoring to form one youngster who appears to be as hard as marble. As an artist, you might use a chisel, hammers, even water, while sculpting your masterpiece. You may have another child who is more pliable, like clay. Even then, as a potter, you might use fire, a knife, and your bare hands.
It doesn't matter what substance you're working with, be it wood, ice, bronze, wax, sand, steel, or foam. Each raw material requires a distinct combination of tools to strike the balance between respecting its uniqueness and steadfastly pursuing the potential beauty within.
In the following articles, I will present different tools and creative ways to use them as we allow the Lord to work through us, shaping our children in His image (see Colossians 3:10). You'll see, there's no reason discipline has to be boring!
Experiment. If one idea doesn't work, try something else and come at it from another direction. But don't dismiss a failed method altogether; it may work on another child or at another stage of childhood. Believe me, your departure from the ordinary ways of correction will keep your kids on their toes, wondering what you'll next pull out of your bag of tricks. The road is long, but it doesn't have to be dull.
If you're looking for ways to get your kids to clean up after themselves, try these ideas:
Here's a solution for a perpetually messy bedroom: Explain to your child, "I cannot bear to look at this room anymore — it's too messy! I'm going to turn off the circuit breaker so I can't see it. When it's clean enough for me to tolerate, let me know and I'll turn your power back on."
About an hour before bedtime, call for a "Whole House Sweep." Set the timer for 10-15 minutes. During that time, everyone must put things away that are out of place. When the timer buzzes, check the house. Then move bedtime up five minutes for each item left lying around or out of order.
Next time your child "forgets" to put something away, put it away for him. When he asks where it is, tell him that he'll just have to look for it. Believe me, he will learn that it's a lot more trouble to find something that Mom has hidden than it is to put it away in the first place.
The next time you ask your child to clean up a mess and she comes back with, "But that's not mine" or "I didn't do that," say, "Fine, then for the rest of the day I will only wash the dishes I used and the clothes I wore, and I'll only prepare the food that I'm going to eat."
For every article of dirty clothing left on the floor rather than placed in the hamper, have your child make five trips from the place where the clothes were dropped to the washing machine, hamper, or utility room. He must pick up the clothes, walk downstairs, put the article in the hamper, take it back out, return to where it had been dropped, drop it again, pick it up again, and then repeat the cycle. And a pair of socks counts as two, which makes 10 trips!
When your kids resist going to bed or make mealtimes unpleasant, try these tips:
We often adjust bedtimes according to our children's behavior that day. For each infraction, they must go to bed five minutes earlier, but if they've been extra good, they can earn the right to stay up an extra five minutes.
Having a struggle at bedtime? Try this: Next time you're dealing with the usual bathroom trips, cups of water, giggling, and talking, call off bedtime. Declare, "Nobody has to go to bed tonight!" Inform them that they may stay up as long as they like — the operative words being stay up. Then have each child stand still in the middle of a separate room of the house. Their warm, comfy beds will look awfully good after just a few minutes of standing alone.
For instance, we may put our child to bed at a specific time, but he's allowed to stay up and read some time after that. The child is notorious for leaving his clothes on the floor, however, so try this idea: For every piece of clothing lying on the floor when we come to put the child to bed, his reading time should be reduced by 10 minutes.
If you have trouble enforcing the "lights out" rule in your house, make it easy on yourself with this rule. If you put your children to bed, only to look down the hall and see the light shining under the door, simply unscrew the light bulb until they can learn to appreciate the privilege of responsibility.
Does your child tend to act up during dinner? Try sending him, along with his plate of food, into the other room to eat alone at the dining room table until he can settle down.
If you have a child which seems to believe that the dining room chairs have been designed to stand on one or maybe two legs at the most - this can become an unconscious habit, so we're trying to help the child break it (before he breaks his own legs or the chair's) - now whenever he tilts back the chair, he's required to remove it from the table and finish the meal standing.
If you have dawdlers, try this: Whoever is last to the table at dinnertime becomes the server. But there's a catch. Even if you're first, your hands must be clean, or you'll end up serving the food, pouring the drinks, and fetching the condiments (after washing your hands, of course!).
We heard of a father who served five plain brussels sprouts to his picky eaters. They had 10 minutes to eat them or they would get the remaining eight in the pot. This made such an impact on them that he only needed to refer to the "brussels sprout" punishment when the children were tempted to complain about their meals again.
When the kids don't want to eat what has been cooked for dinner, some people don't make it an issue. Instead, they don't have to eat it as long as they've tried at least one bite. If they refuse to do even that, however, they just go hungry. Refuse to be a short-order cook. (They won't starve until the next meal, even though they may feel "starved.")
A neighbor boy complained when his mother burned his toast, so she decided he could do without her cooking for the rest of the day. He got pretty tired ... by the end of the day.
If your kids need helping remembering to be respectful with their words, take a look at these ideas:
You've heard the reprimand "Hold your tongue!" Make your child do it — literally. Have him stick out his tongue and hold it between two fingers. This is an especially effective correction for public outbursts.
Some kids often lose the privilege of talking. Explain that being able to express yourself is a gift. If they abuse that privilege, either by hurting someone's feelings, speaking inappropriately, or just making needless noise, they cannot speak for a predetermined amount of time. This is especially painful if during that time they have something important to say. It underscores the privilege of speaking and makes them think more carefully about their words.
A person tried a variation on this idea …. If things got too raucous or there was too much fussing between siblings, she would cry, "Noses on knees!" Her children then had to immediately touch their noses to their knees until she determined that they had learned their lesson. If your older child is arguing that a punishment is unfair, be willing to back down. But explain, "I will rescind the correction if you can show me in the Bible where what I required of you was out of line." This usually cuts off anymore argument, and even better, it yields a little extra Bible study.
Do your children ever call for you from the other room and try to carry on a conversation through the walls? Stop answering them. Not only that, but every time they yell from the other room, count how many times it takes them to realize you're not talking back before they finally come looking for you and engage in a face-to-face conversation in a normal tone of voice. Then, for each time they yelled, they must wait five minutes before they can ask you the question they were so impatient to ask from the other room.
Our children need the freedom to express their feelings, but there's often a fine line between open communication and disrespect. As your kids get older and you perceive their need to tell you how they're feeling, give them the chance to do it respectfully, while you listen without interrupting. If they're too angry or frustrated to speak respectfully, tell them to write you a letter and say whatever is on their heart. The only requirement is that they reread the letter before giving it to you. The majority of the time, this exercise will help them vent their feelings, but they won't end up giving you the letter because they don't feel that strongly anymore.
If your kids continually forget their responsibilities or are untruthful, try these discipline ideas:
As our children get older, it is critical that they learn to be self-reliant. After all, the goal of discipline is self-discipline. Life can teach them this lesson without our help. If they forget their lunches or backpacks or lunchmoney, don't run up to them with it every time. Letting them feel the loss will cost them much less than never learning this important life lesson.
Logical consequences like the one described above provide the best opportunity for correction. But we can also set up artificial logical consequences as correction. If a thing is left in the driveway, it could be run over and destroyed. So take that thing away for two weeks. Was another thing left out in the rain? It's the same principle.
If you have a child who continually forgets to turn off the lights, make him go a day without using anything that requires electricity. He'll soon get the point.
This correction works well if you have a child who is constantly leaving his jacket, backpack, or any other personal belonging behind. Require him to baby-sit the item for three days. It must be carried during mealtime, playtime, bath time, and bedtime. If your child is caught without it at any time, an additional day is added to the original three days.
Throughout the week, whenever you have to tell your children twice to do something, add 10 minutes to their Saturday work schedules. At the end of the week, before they have free time, their "sentence" must be worked off by "hard labor."
After you have taught them that lying, for example, is a cause for correction, establish a reasonable punishment. Then, whenever a situation comes up that would invite lying, knowing that you will follow through on the penalty may be the extra incentive your child needs to choose to tell the truth.
If you run into a few "heart" issues with your child, and it all came to a head when you caught him lying, then make a severe correction, for example, don't give him the food he is extra fond of for a period of time, or a punishment similar to this.
If you catch your young child shoplifting, secretly alert a store clerk to summon the manager or, better yet, a uniformed security officer to give your child a little talk. The impact — far greater than hearing a lecture from Mom — could thwart a bigger problem down the road.
When your kids get rowdy and hyper, try these tips:
If you are tired of your children's ceaseless noises and sound effects, make them sit down and do very “boring” things, cleaning the house, etc., this works especially good for adolescent boys. And it is a very good disciplinary act too.
If your little one gets too hyper, come up with a code word to remind him to stop the action without embarrassing him. For example, whenever he starts getting too rowdy in a group, yell a word or two, like “hey ([…] ← a name or a word)”. Then he would know that he needs to calm down before you'd have to take more drastic measures.
Physical exercises, such as running laps around the house or doing push-ups or jumping jacks (even in the grocery store), can be a productive punishment. They also serve a dual purpose for ADHD children or active boys in general. This type of correction is not only sufficiently unpleasant, but it also drains some of the pent-up energy that probably fueled the offense in the first place. This can be an appropriate form of correction for laziness as well.
When the kids run up and down the stairs after having been told not to, have them crawl up and down on their bottoms. Use the same principle for running through the house, only have them crawl on all fours to get to where they were going in such a hurry.
Kids intuitively know that we're reluctant to correct them in public. Call their bluff. The next time your young one starts acting up in a restaurant or store, warn him first that if he doesn't straighten up he will have to stand in a corner in public. If he doesn't believe you and continues to misbehave, point to a nearby corner in the restaurant or store and require him to stick his nose there for five minutes.
If your kids throw fits or whine, take a look at these discipline ideas:
Does your child slam the door when he's angry? You might tell him, "It's obvious that you don't know how to close a door properly. To learn, you will open and close this door, calmly and completely, 100 times."
If your child likes to stomp off to his room or stomp around in anger, send him outside to the driveway and tell him to stomp his feet for one minute. He'll be ready to quit after about 15 seconds, but make him stomp even harder.
The same goes for throwing fits. Tell your child to go to his room to continue his fit. He isn't allowed to come out and he has to keep crying for 10 minutes. Ten minutes is an awfully long time, and it's no fun if your parents tell you to cry.
Another way to handle temper tantrums is to simply say, "That is too disruptive for this house. You may continue your fit in the backyard. When you're finished, you are welcome to come back inside." When there isn't an audience, the thrill of throwing a temper tantrum is gone.
If your child asks for something and then argues or throws a fit when you tell him no, tell him that no matter what he asks for, from that moment on the answer will be an automatic no until he can accept the answer "no" respectfully.
A grandmother was buying shoes for her 10-year-old grandson. He threw a fit when he realized he wouldn't get the more expensive pair. So she threatened him with an embarrassing punishment, for example she leaned down and whispered in his ear, "If you continue to embarrass me, I will kiss you all over your face right here in the middle of the store." He stopped immediately.
No whining and no begging should be allowed. The children should know that if they add "Please, please, please" when asking for something, the response should be an automatic "No, no, no."
One person said once that when she was a little girl and would start whining about something, her mother would stand there, looking confused — as if she were speaking a foreign language. Then her mother would say, "I'm sorry but I do not understand 'Whinese.' Would you please speak to me in English?"
Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" There will be times in our children's lives when they will be tempted to follow the world's philosophy: "If it feels good, do it." There will be other times in life when they must do things they don't feel like doing. It is important to teach our children as early as possible that our feelings are a gift from God, but that they can't always be trusted. From the first time they whine, "I don't feel like it," remind them, "Be the boss of your feelings!" This phrase will become even more valuable as our children get older.
All parents seek disciplinary techniques that work. However, not all techniques work for all ages or for all children. Use this list as a guide for age-appropriate discipline.
Distraction. Infants (birth to 18 months) typically do not need strong disciplinary measures. When babies "misbehave" they are often exploring and testing their boundaries. Simply directing a baby's attention elsewhere may solve the problem.
Removal of privileges. Taking away things, activities or outings can be an effective way to manage inappropriate behavior for children ages 18 months and older. To make sure this technique works for you:
Choose a meaningful privilege that your child will greatly miss.
- Follow through on warnings to remove privileges.
- Remove the item for a short amount of time (differs by age — several hours for a 2-year-old but several days for a 12-year-old).
Natural consequences. Parents do not need to get involved in order for natural consequences to take effect. For example, if your child refuses to eat dinner, instead of developing a power struggle, allow her to go to bed without eating. She will naturally be hungry in the morning and will be certain to eat. (Appropriate for children 2 and older.)
Logical Consequences. This is a punishment that fits the crime. Suppose your child throws a ball in the house and breaks a vase. She could be asked to work off the value of the vase.
Spanking. Spanking typically works best with ages 2 to 6. It should be used only for specific, purposeful misbehavior and should never be done in anger. As with other techniques, spanking should be used as one of many discipline tools.
A student flunks her senior English class after plagiarizing a term paper, receiving an F on her final exam and failing to show up for a make-up session for a botched assignment. Told that their daughter will not be allowed to graduate with her friends, her parents threaten to sue the teacher and school district.
The American Medical Association releases a startling report on underage drinking, indicating that a large percentage of kids who drink get the booze from their own parents. The AMA study found that one in four U.S. teens reported attending a party (which we discourage strongly everyone to attend) where alcohol was served with parents present.
A reality show (We also encourage people strongly to remove their tv's in their homes so not to let their children be brainwashed by the filth that is being transmitted through the different tv-channels.) spotlights the real-life travails of hapless moms and dads terrorized by their own children — pint-sized tyrants who kick them, punch them, swear at them and hold them as prisoners in their own home.
In case you hadn't noticed, America (and almost the whole world today by that very fact) has a parenting problem. The evidence of this parenting deficit can be found at your local supermarket, fast-food restaurant or high-school parking lot — spoiled, selfish, out-of-control kids with no concept of right or wrong.
While many aspects of our culture are harmful to children, I'm particularly alarmed by the rise of what I call "pushover parents." These parents are either unable or unwilling to place limits on their children's behavior — even behavior that is unhealthy, dangerous or destructive. They are so concerned with being liked by their kids that they give in to their children's every whim.
This neglect has a ripple effect. Even if you are doing a great job of raising responsible kids, your children's lives are still influenced by this unfortunate trend. Their world is inhabited by kids raised by pushover parents — think bully, dishonest classmate, abusive friends.
What turns parents into pushovers? The root causes include:
Wrong thinking. Many parents today believe they have no right to impose their beliefs on their children. They heed the advice of secular parenting gurus who preach that children are brimming with innate goodness and should be allowed to create their own values. Such humanistic advice denies the fact that all of us are inclined toward selfishness and self-deception.
Guilt. When Mom and Dad are both professionals working 50 to 60 hours per week (Remember not to give your life to this world, but to God, because you have a grave responsibility to raise your children into a Christian holy perfection.), their children may spend the majority of their early years in day care (make sure it's a Christian one so you don't run the risk having your kids influenced by lousy, unchristian and ungodly examples). Because these parents are physically and emotionally unavailable to their kids, parents may feel tremendous guilt. To assuage this guilt, they often find it impossible to say no.
Copycat or reactive parenting. Many adults today were raised by parents influenced by bad thoughts and ideas throughout the time. As a result, they never learned the importance of setting appropriate limits. Conversely, individuals who grew up with such-like parents may reject any form of child discipline. They vow for example: "I'm never going to treat my kids the way I was treated."
How can we avoid becoming pushover parents? We can begin by recognizing that our children are a blessing from God, and with that blessing comes an awesome responsibility. Children who fail to experience consequences for misbehavior typically grow up to become selfish, narcissistic adults who leave a trail of broken relationships in their wake.
If you believe you might be a pushover parent, ask your spouse and friends to give you feedback — and give them permission to be honest. If you happen to be a single parent, ask yourself if you look to your kids for comfort and fear their disapproval. If so, ask God for guidance and help and energetically read holy writings (as we all must do in all cases for true Christian guidance, not only in some specific situation).
By balancing love and limits, you can help your kids grow into healthy, godly adults who — they also can become moms and dads, (but prefer to them to serve our Lord first of all in celibacy and chastity as our apostle Paul did) — will break the destructive cycle of pushover parenting.
Two of your kids are fighting, another one won't pick up his things, and your teenager just revealed a thing he did without your permission. You're exhausted, and all you want is peace.
You're not alone.
For many, disciplining children is a daily challenge. When it comes to discipline in a home, we only have one rule: respect.
Disrespect is the primary root of disobedience. Looking through Scripture, Adam and Eve sinned because they did not respect God's command. Cain killed Abel because he did not respect his brother's life. Lying, stealing, vandalism, strife and disobedience stem from an attitude of disrespect toward someone or something.
When your child pulls the dog's tail or your teenager rolls her eyes, it's disrespect.
When correcting your child, point out how actions or words were disrespectful, and then ask him to think about something he could have done or said that would have been more polite. In this way, you're not only correcting inappropriate behavior, you're also providing opportunities for your child to learn and practice valuable life skills.
Whatever form of discipline you choose, administer it with respect. Your child will learn nothing if you lose your cool. If you want him to be respectful, then you'll have to model respect. Take note of your tone of voice at all times, especially when your child is acting up. Talk to him as a valued individual, not as a hardened criminal. (A very good source for more holy examples of living a true Christ-like life is the Saints and Scriptures of the Catholic Church.)
When some kids were younger, they often heard their parents say, "You don't have to agree with me or like me right now, but you will be respectful." They knew the parents accept nothing less from them, and they knew that the parents would show them respect. When a situation was about others, the parents' response was, "Our family treats people (or animals or possessions) with respect."
By using "we" language, you let your child know your correction isn't just about him and one infraction. Living respectfully is about holding to a standard that is good for everyone. By making respect your one non-negotiable standard, is a very good thing and lightens the load of dealing out different punishments.
Emphasizing respect and honoring people are biblical concepts. Believers are told to respect the law (Proverbs 13:13), honor parents (Deuteronomy 5:16) and live lives worthy of respect (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). With respect woven throughout Scripture, it's no wonder that it makes for a strong foundation for family and offers meaningful reward.
When we sets a standard of respect in our home, the reward will be relationship. Our children will become people we like to have around. They trust us as someone who respects and believes in them. Peace will reign and communication flow between us.
But we can't do this alone. God has to be our guide and our support. His wisdom and strength carries us through the times when we feel too weary to press forward. His grace makes up the difference when we feel short. And ultimately, He is our inspiration for our standard of respect.
Do you have a grip on reality? Here's a quiz to find out.
Bob drives his car 90 miles per hour on the interstate and is pulled over by a state trooper. The trooper gives Bob a:
- speeding ticket
Susan prefers sleeping late to showing up at work on time. After arriving at the office two to three hours late for two weeks in a row, Susan's boss tells her to:
get to bed a little earlier
- take some vacation time to rest up
- look for another job
As a result of their choices, Bob and Susan will both experience unpleasant consequences. We can only hope they'll learn from their experiences, prompting Bob to become a safer driver and Susan to become a more responsible employee.
The effective use of consequences can be a powerful parenting tool. When our children break a rule or fail to act responsibly, we can implement a consequence or allow the natural outcome of their behavior to take effect. Over time, these results act as a teacher, helping our kids to learn how things operate in the real world.
Unfortunately, far too many parents short-circuit this process, either failing to implement appropriate consequences or bailing their kids out — shielding them from the slightest discomfort. These parents believe they are expressing love by sparing their children from consequences; in reality, they are setting up their kids for frustration and failure later in life.
The book of Proverbs reminds us that God designed the world to function in specific ways. Our actions have ramifications, and more often than not, we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). Our kids benefit when they learn that life is made up of these cause-and-effect relationships — even though the effects they experience may sometimes be unpleasant.
If a toddler touches a hot stove, he gets burned — that is a natural consequence. When a child's actions do not lead to an obvious result, however, a parent can still employ a consequence that is logically connected to the behavior. For example, a child is instructed to stop doing/put away a thing he likes and doesn't follow through; a logical consequence would be that he is not allowed to do that thing he liked the next day.
Consequences can be both positive and negative. Parents can use positive consequences when they want to encourage a good behavior and negative consequences when they want to discourage a bad behavior.
In order for consequences to work, they need to be immediate. Kids have short attention spans. You can increase the immediacy of a consequence by using tokens or a point system. Immediately award your child points or tokens for positive behavior and deduct them for negative behavior. These can then be cashed in for special privileges or inexpensive rewards (e.g. cake, pie, etc.) at a later time.
You'll also need to be consistent with consequences, or your child will quickly learn that you don't mean what you say. That's why it's crucial to follow through with a promised outcome even when you're tired.
Finally, consequences need to be powerful. If a positive or negative consequence doesn't matter to your child, it won't change her behavior. For example, earning points toward your child for a new thing the child might be in need of, may be a powerful motivator for that time, but she may not care about that thing a year from now. (We need to be very cautious in this matter so we don't spoil the child, but only to instruct it to learn that good deeds are rewarded and bad ones punished, the same principle goes with us all as being children to our Father in Heaven.)
As you learn to use consequences effectively — instead of nagging, yelling or making threats — you'll find that interactions with your kids will improve. Your children will clearly understand what's expected of them, and you'll feel more confident in your role as a parent. Of course, you should always administer consequences in the context of a warm, supportive relationship (and don't be afraid to use harder disciplinary methods as a punishment).
In the 70s, a time when everyone in a teacher's third-grade class sat and listened silently while the teacher expounded on a concept, when she finished talking, the directions was followed. The greatest problems with kids in the classroom back then were chewing gum and passing notes. (We need to emphasize on the importance of educating our children in a true traditional Catholic school, so they won't be taught strange ungodly teachings like evolution, sex-education, etc. If this can't be arranged, home-schooling is a very good alternative.)
You can imagine the shock when a person became an elementary school teacher twenty-five years later. During her first week of teaching, one of her students stood in the middle of her's explanation about a subject, approached her, tugged on her's clothing and tattled on his buddy at the back of the room. The teacher couldn't believe she was being interrupted in the middle of a lesson! She later discovered that this behavior — and much worse — was the norm. What happened to good, old-fashioned respect?
"Why is it that these days that so many children tend to diss their parents, to act disrespectfully? Why are so many parents caught in the roles of threatening and cajoling and never getting anywhere? What's going on here?"
Granted, many things have affected kids today from then. Technology has made huge advancements but sends millions of negative messages to kids about authority. Drug use has increased. The family structure has all but fallen apart. However, the real answer to the questions above (and our teaching problem) is that because kids misbehave because they can and because adults let them. (Also by the lousy secular upbringing of the children from their carnal ungodly parents.)
"It all comes down to who is really in charge of your family." Many parents are so concerned about being their child's friend — not hurting their child's feelings or making sure that their child is always happy — that they fail to parent well.
Hence: Are you willing to do whatever it takes to take charge of your family? Are you willing to look like the "bad guy" at times in order to parent your children so they will stop rolling over you? Are you ready to be an assertive parent, helping your child become a good and devout Christian?
Here are three ways parents encourage their kids to misbehave.
No parenting game plan
Parents lead kids much like a leader leads a group, and to experience success, parents need a good parenting game plan. Part of having a plan means defining the attitudes, behaviors and character traits you want your children to possess. When you can define these, you'll be able to begin to develop a plan to become a good parent.
Not only should you develop an "overall" parenting plan, but it's also important to have a scheduled minute-by-minute plan, especially with your smallest children. One of the best defense against bad behavior is having a good lesson plan that would keep their little hands busy. The same applies to parenting. Keep your kids busy with things to learn (especially holy things from the Catholic faith, Saints, Scriptures, Sacraments, etc.), with stuff to do and with an agenda, and your parenting job will be much easier with fewer discipline problems.
Children have brains like elephants — they will latch onto even your the smallest promises (positive or negative) and remember them a day, week, month or year later. Therefore, consistency is of utmost importance in discipline. You need to deliver rather than make threats or promises you don't intend to keep. And if you don't do what you say you will, they won't respect you.
A child's misbehavior serves a purpose in his life: it gives him a reason to control you. Sadly, if a parent does not show the child that they are in charge through consistency, a child's contempt for their parent will grow. As one Dr. says it, ". . . if he [your child] can control you, why respect you?"
If you want your home to be peaceful, you need to decide which battles are worth fighting with your kids, and which aren't. This will help stop power struggles that increase bad behavior.
If your child wants to wear something that makes her look like she dressed herself in a dark closet (as long it is modest), and she is very strong-willed, you may ask yourself if it's worth fighting her to get her to change her duds. On the other hand, if she wants to spend time with a boy in a dark closet, you must make a big deal out of that. The battles that you choose to fight will directly affect your child's level of misbehavior — especially if your child is strong-willed.
Granted, becoming a stellar parent takes energy, but the payoff will be greater than anything you could have imagined as your children grow.
This clever method of getting little "ankle biters" to obey is less exhausting and more successful than screaming, blaming, asking, threatening or spanking.
The first thing to remember about Reality Discipline is that you want your children to learn to think for themselves and learn to become more responsible through guidance and action-oriented techniques. The same doctor as quoted above says, “Action-oriented discipline is based on the reality that there are times when you have to discipline your children in such a way that he/she accepts responsibility and learns accountability for his actions.” Here's an example: A guy was in high school (a true catholic one), his mother implemented Reality Discipline without realizing it. The guy could sleep through a tornado (or a hurricane or tsunami) and the mother was tired of waking him up every morning and saying, “You'd better hurry, or you're going to miss the bus.” Finally, his mother thought, “I'm not waking him up anymore. He can be late.” Just as she suspected, the guy did miss the bus and was forced to walk the mile to school. Much to his mother's delight, he was never late again.
The goal of parenting is not to create happy kids; rather, it's to create responsible kids. This means the kid will probably be pretty unhappy; he may even throw a fit, and rant and rave — but he will become more responsible and respectful. Don't back down, but do stay cool as a cucumber. Remind yourself that it's a battle of the wits and the wills, and you will win.
If you want to use Reality Discipline effectively, you need to know what's important to your child — what really moves him in his reality. Your child may value a thing, running, a daily cookie break or spending time with friends (we endorse parents to only accept like-minded friends, that is Catholics who love the Lord and wants to follow his precepts; the same goes for parents too). Parents who know how to use Reality Discipline make creative connections between bad behavior and discipline through action rather than through warnings, nagging or threats.
For example, suppose you ask your ten-year-old daughter (who loves strawberries) to take out the trash. She ignores you, and thirty minutes later the trash is still sitting by the back door. With a little creativity, you decide to implement some Reality Discipline. Instead of reminding your daughter about the trash, you enlist her younger sister to take it out. Then you take the strawberries from your ten-year-old daughter's portion and give it to her sister for a job well done.
Note: If you want to use Reality Discipline, you have to listen to your child. Then you'll know what will move him to responsibility. The more you understand what's important to him, the more ammunition you'll have in your arsenal to "train up" your child in the way he should go.
If you find that you are a permissive parent who is afraid of "pulling the rug out from under your child", remember that Reality Discipline is not unkind. Instead, when it's motivated by love to help your child mature into a responsible adult, it's a very good gift.
When kids are small, they learn the ABCs. They're happy to sing them in the bathtub, in the car and while they're eating their Cheerios. But according to Dr. L, the ABCs are for parents, too — ABCs that build a healthy self-esteem in your child. A healthy self-esteem is cultivated in children through Acceptance, Belonging and Competence.
Some parents who are turned-off by their child's choice of e.g. music or clothes send a message to their kids that not only is their child's behavior unacceptable, but that they are unacceptable (the godly parents need to remove these things and also explain why unchristian things are bad to them and can ruin their souls, instead of just ignore them and despise them.) As a result, their child spends hours doing badly things. Why? Because if a child doesn't feel accepted by their parents, they'll look for acceptance from their friends or other things. However, when parents unconditionally accept their kids and tries to change their thinking into a pious mind, they will be much less likely to seek acceptance from a peer group — and they will develop a healthier self-esteem. According to Dr. L., "Your unconditional acceptance of your child means everything in her development."
If you want to send a strong message to your child that he is accepted, listen and ask questions to show you care about his interests and concerns. In short, develop a relationship with your kids. Dr. L. says, "Without a relationship, your rules, your words and your actions mean nothing. The wedge between you and your children will drive them toward Acceptance and Belonging in a group outside your home."
Everyone, whether they are five or fifty, wants to belong. Many people go to great lengths to ensure that they are connected with someone who cares. How can you give your kids a sense of belonging? By creating a community within your family. To accomplish this, Dr. L. suggests giving your children a vote in decisions, listening to what they say and supporting them in their pious activities. Dr. L. tells a story about 15-year-old Melissa who was approached and offered a cigarette. Because she had a strong sense of belonging within her family, she didn't need the cigarette and replied, "No thanks. We Crayburns don't smoke." By creating a healthy self-esteem, a sense of belonging helps your child resist peer pressure, temptations and creates a set of expectations for your kids to attain. For Melissa, it was the expectation that her family doesn't smoke...