Marco Banks wrote:
Mick Fisch wrote:
What works brilliantly for one may be a failure for another child.
Admit it when you're wrong and apologize if appropriate.
It can really suck to be the adult in the room, but that is your job. Kids need a parent more than they need a friend.
Enjoy them, treasure them. In the end, houses, cars, etc are just stuff. Your kids are what matter.
Yes, yes, yes and yes to all the above.
We've only got 2, but they've turned into great young adults. Both have found their way and are growing into amazing people with a clear direction in their life and are making wise decisions.
I would add:
1. Consistency. Bed-times are firm -- with few exceptions. Meal times are consistent, and food put on the plate is eaten. For things that they don't want to try, you put one (peas, green beans, whatever) per year of age. Thus, a two year old is expected to eat 2 lima beans. If there is an expectation about behavior, you must consistently enforce that expectation with few (if any) exceptions. A lack of disciplined consistency on the part of the parent will produce that same in their child.
That just sounded like advise from the resident hard-ass, but it doesn't mean that you are militant or inflexible. But if you say bath time is 8:00 and bed time is 9:00, you need to be consistent. We expected obedience on the first ask. I go crazy when I see parents standing over a 2-year-old tyrant counting, "1 . . . 2 . . . I mean it this time . . . 2 and a half . . . you don't want me to get to 3". How absolutely crazy. The child should clearly know your expectation for them, and if they fail to do it, they already know what the consequence will be. One ask, and if they don't do it, you quietly give them a time out.
2. For every "no", there needs to be plenty of "yes's". Our home was a creative workshop. It was messy at times, but we encouraged exploration, experimentation, and discussion when there were decisions that the kids didn't like. Find a way to say yes to their best instincts: classic reinforcement of good behavior.
3. We never use the term "punishment". We spoke of discipline when there was a need for firmer correction. As someone who was raised by an angry father who used the belt, I determined never to "hit" my child or discipline them in any way that was angry. We did spank, VERY RARELY, and it was only in the face of outright disobedience. I little smack on a diaper'ed bottom has a way of breaking through the attitude that needs adjustment. And once the kids were verbal, no more. So after the age of 3, I would strongly protest anyone swatting a little bottom. It's counterproductive at that point.
Time-outs were our go-to form of correction. Time outs were expected to be silent. If they yelled, the time would start over. Who is being disciplined here? If the child is punishing you, then something is wrong. They are expected to be quiet. Then once it's over, there is a hug, words of forgiveness and away they go.
4. We use the words, "I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?" Both parts. When the children were young, we'd prompt them with these words after they got busted for something. Once their time-out was over, we would call them over: "What do you need to say?" And following that, we would respond, "You are forgiven." Then always a hug. Never a discipline without a tender touch of affirmation afterward. That was it. Once forgiven, no further mention of what they did would happen again. If it's forgiven, it's over and we move forward in the relationship. Grace covers all and we don't bring it up again. Teaching them to respond in this way becomes a positive piece of their emotional vocabulary. It's not shame based, but its grace based.
And when I screw up, I say, "I'm sorry, will you forgive me?" My children have heard me ask for forgiveness from them and from their mom (my dear bride) 100 times or more. It's the oxygen of human flourishing.
If someone isn't ready to respond, "I forgive you", that's OK, but it's not OK to walk away at that point. We either continue to talk it through, or we set a time later that day when we're going to return to the subject and bring resolution. Doing this with a 2 year old is pretty quick: and the offenses are pretty minor. But as you move into the teen years, these are critically important words that will hold the family together then so much conspires to tear it apart. The complexity of conflict increases, but the words remain surprisingly simple: "I'm sorry. That wasn't thoughtful of me. I will not make excuses. Will you forgive me?"
Related to the above thought about swatting them on the bum when they were little, I remember one time when my son did something particularly disobedient. He was maybe 3. He just wanted to be defiant that day and it really pushed my buttons. I knew that for my sake, I needed to step away from the situation to cool off. So he got a time out, but he knew that he probably was going to get a spanking for that (he had hurt his sister and done something dangerous, and then lied about it -- one of the few spankable offenses in our rule book). So after a 10 minute time out, I called him over. The discussion was simple: "What did you do?" He quietly confessed. Then, without me saying, he said, "I'm sorry Papa. Will you forgive me?" I did. I said, "I have to spank you because you lied to me." A quick three swats on his bum, and it was over. Then he INSTINCTIVELY reached his little arms up to me for a hug. I held him for 20 seconds, and then he was off and about his little business --- no shame, no baggage, and a lesson learned positively.
People may disagree about spanking and I totally respect that. But the result of that interaction was beautiful, tender, affirming of all we wanted for our children, and overwhelmingly positive.
5. As stated by several people above, each child is unique, so you have to find what works for them, both in discipline, but also affirmation. Find the unique ways of affirming each child in the way they like to be loved (affirming words, hugs, going for ice-cream, all of the above . . .). Even today, my 21 year-old daughter just wanted to be listened to. We sat on the couch and I made space to affirm her as I listened to her share about her stressful weekend. My son, on the other hand, loves it when I take him out for a burrito or we go to a ball game or movie. If I come directly at him and ask, "So how are you doing?", he doesn't like that. But sitting side by side as we watch a football game, I can quietly inquire, "How are things going?" and he'll open up. He wants that, but you just can't be so direct.
6. Share the struggles of your own journey. Both historically ("when I was growing up, this was really tough for me") as well as contemporary ("I've had a difficult week with this person at work"). In our family, we pray about these things together.
7. Traditions. Kids thrive on this. This is all a part of my first point: consistency. Putting up the Christmas tree, opening gifts on Christmas eve, making fondu on Christmas eve, squeezing fresh orange juice on Christmas morning, going for Thai food on birthdays, all family swims on hot summer evenings, me out on the grill making tri-tip or brisket, summer traditions, fall traditions, birthday traditions, little songs and rituals and repeated things. My daughter LOVES these kinds of things. She'll run to the kitchen and dig out a special deviled egg dish or turkey-shaped salt and pepper shakers. The love returning to Taco Surf for dinner on warm summer evenings the weekend before they go back to college, and then getting a caramel role at Sweet Jills afterward.
One of our traditions is that on your birthday, you get to ask anyone else around the table any question you want, and they have to answer honestly.
We've got this piece of wood -- a birch 1 x 2 that is about 7 feet long. On their birthdays, we would stand them up against the stick and measure their height, seeing how much they'd grown over the past year. (I started this because I thought that if we measured them against a door-frame, for instance, what would happen if we moved? All those precious lines that marked their growth through the years would be lost.) . On the back of the piece of wood is written the bible verse, Luke 2:52. We say it together and then the commentary goes about who grew faster last year, who is gaining on whom, etc. A silly little tradition, but one that adds color and texture and sentiment.
OK -- that's WAY more than you asked for.
Grace to you as you raise your precious little ones.
Travis Johnson wrote:My kids had no concept of money, so we changed dollar amounts to American Girl Dolls. Okay, so I only have girls, but they knew an American Girl Doll was $100, or a lot of money. So when they asked for something we could not afford, to put it finacial terms they could understand, we converted it the the number of American Girl Dolls it would cost. Say a trip to Disney World. Say that cost $7000, we would say, "Jeeshhh, that would cost us 700 American Girl Dolls.
They might not know how much $7000 is, but they knew 700 expensive dolls was a lot!