Discipline seems to be a hot topic amongst my peers and in my community. I had a friend over today who observed how calm and well-behaved my children were. She got to spend the 1st half of the day with us which included getting 3 kids dressed, fed and then out the door to see “How To Train Your Dragon” (excellent movie, btw) by 10 a.m. The movie was not just endured, but enjoyed, regardless of having a 5 year old, 3 year old and 10 month old in tow. Here’s how I discipline my kids:
Set Some Ground Rules
Before we went into the movie theater in a serious tone I went over what was going to happen and the “rules” during the movie. It went something like this: “Ok guys, we are about to go into the movies. We have 2 grown-ups and 3 kids, so we really need your help to make it a good trip. When we go to our seats it will be kid, grown up, kid, grown up and baby may be passed back and forth to the adults. You will get your snacks, so eat them slow because when they are done, that’s it. If someone has to go to the potty, you will tell one of us. Is there talking and wiggling aloud? No. Are we going to have fun? YES!!!” I reminded them at regular intervals what the guidelines were and then acknowledged how well they were doing.
Knowing What’s Coming
Later that day my friend commented that she even felt better by knowing what was going to take place on our outing. I really thought about what it means to have structure, consistency and predictability in our lives. When I was a kid, I lacked structure and discipline, but craved it. My parents, with all their good intentions, let me have too much reign, and I paid for it heavily in my teenage years. I had no respect for my “elders” andrebelled against anyone who tried to direct my path. My loving parents were doing the best they could and were so worried about not letting me be a free spirit that I ended up making too many decisions at a young age.
A Healthy Balance
Rather than do the complete opposite of my parents, I have found a healthy balance. Although I’m not trying to be their friend, they are my best friends. My kids are incredibly loving and respectful (most of the time). For all the times I have felt like I’m being too hard on them, I now stop and look at the product of our parenting and feel more confident. One key for me is to balance my sternness and tone with tons of mushy love, hugs and praise. I heard Doctor Phil once say “you have to catch them doing good and let them know it.”
Don’t Act From Anger
Another key is not to let myself get to the point of rage before I use any kind of discipline. When I act from anger, the result is always negative. Not only do I feel like I’m hurting their self-esteem, but I am also hurting my own. I don’t like myself when I get angry and take it out on them. The goal is to stay calm, be serious and FOLLOW THROUGH!
How To Stay Calm
A way I stay calm is taking time-outs for me, praying or making calls. If I do these things as a practice, then I’m more likely to catch myself before I get too mad. My kids also get to see the example of getting to pause before reacting. When I get my thoughts and heart straight again, it’s easier to follow through on the next course of action. Thankfully I am more calm than I am aggravated, which I know my kids pick up on.
Understanding My Kids
It’s my job to read and understand my children. When one is “acting out” I stop for a moment and ask myself (or them) are they hungry? Tired? Angry? Sick? Lonely? From there I make decisions based on my tolerance level and also what their needs might be.
Communicate with Your Man
Having my husband on the same page is essential. Todd and I agree to communicate constantly about our kids’ moods and behaviors. We give each other plenty of “heads up” before interacting with them so they know we are on the same team.
We have people coming in and out of our home frequently, as I love the camraderie and help with my tribe whenever I can get it. I feel good around my kids. We love each other’s company, and I think it might be palpable at times. I’m so glad it is. I love sharing my family with others.
Don’t get me wrong
I don’t want to give the picture that 100% of the time my kids are on their best behavior. The day after a parent-teacher conference meeting for my 5 year old went remarkably well, he was put on a time-out a school. I’m always getting the opportunity to be humbled by these reminders. As long as these “events” are few and far between, I don’t worry that I need to do something differently.
Where my techniques come from
My discipline techniques come from so many sources. I’m a reader and an observer. I’d love to say that all these routines have come from an innate mothering quality that I was born with, but that would just be a total lie. I’m a mom who has to work hard to get that natural instinct to kick in. It’s my husband (a natural with kids), my mentor, mother-in-law, Supernanny, and the book 123 Magic that continue to support my journey. It hasn’t been easy for me. My parenting techniques are always a work in progress, but with lots of prayer, quiet time and God I think my kids will continue to be in good hands.
About the author
Heidi is a home-maker and stay-at-home mom with her husband of 7 years and her 3 children. Sam, age 5, Sophie, Age 2 and Sadie, age 9 weeks are her pride and joy. Although she was once told she might never be able to have children due to Crohn’s Disease and Osteoporosis, she refused to give up. Overcoming hurdles in her life is just part of the norm in Heidi’s world. At 17 weeks pregnant with her 3rd child, Heidi found out that Sadie had Down Syndrome. Once again, Heidi took on the challenge with her husband, family, friends and many tears in the process and is now excited about this new venture with all her children. Heidi was born and raised in Northern California and has her BA Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Psychology. She graduated Cum Laude from John F. Kennedy University.