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Premises for Child Training

Do you not know where to begin with training and disciplining your child? Here are some premises that will put a firm foundation to your training process.

  1. All are sinners.
    We want to do our own thing all the time.
  2. Consequences of disobedience must hurt more than sinning.
    Makes them consider twice whether disobeying is worth it.
    Be creative. Don’t be predictable in your discipline (but be consistent).
    I’ve had children consider the pain of a spanking to be worth the disobedience of the fun of their action—make them consider the cost.
  3. To be angry over wrong is not wrong.
    Jesus had righteous anger over those who misused His Father’s temple. They not only cheated the people who came to sacrifice, but hindered those who came to worship.
    Jesus didn’t say, “Excuse me, would you mind leaving the temple?” He took a whip and removed the offenders and made the rulers angry.
    His anger over wrong helped remove the wrong.
    I can’t claim to possess righteous anger all the time, but disobedience is rebellion. And God is not pleased. I am put in this position of authority (as mom) to “encourage” my rebellious son to obey.
    And Rebellion is compared with the sin of witchcraft (I Samuel 15:23).
    If I can’t control my anger, I have the child sit and wait while I go drink a Pepsi, take a few deep breathes outside, whatever, until I gain control. Sometimes it’s a long wait. I don’t want to discipline when I am out of control. But I may be angry. There is a difference.
  4. On a few rare occasions, especially when the consequences of disobeying is great (we have a pond, if they went near the pond, their life is at stake), then I’ve called my husband at work, and he disciplined the offense. They waited until he returned home from work.
    I don’t make that a habit, then they dread Daddy’s return, and he does, too. So use this technique sparingly.
  5. We’ve also used the WAIT technique. Sit, while I consider what discipline will help you consider obedience would be more favorable than disobedience. This shouldn’t be done when they are too young to understand time, but as they understand, the wait can work in your favor to allow them time to anticipate their “reward” for their actions.
  6. Start when they’re young.
    If they understand “No,” then they understand the consequence of doing “no.”
    When our boys were young, I carried around my rod (a thin dowel, a paint stirring stick, a wooden spoon) in my hip pocket. Sometimes I knew they hid it because I couldn’t find it anywhere, and I just had it.
    I did not discipline for childish things, like spilling milk or making messes, unless I had told them, “Stop swinging your arms, you’re going to spill your milk.” Then they swung their arms. That is disobedience, not lack of coordination.
    If you cannot control a little body that you hold, then what hope do you have of a teenager who is bigger and taller than you?
    Start when they show that ugly rebellion. Some people think their rebellion is cute and funny. Look at it for what it is, rebellion against your authority--- given to you by God. (It will only get worse, if left uncontrolled. And it won’t be funny and cute in a big, spoiled brat.)
  7. Are you afraid of scarring your children for life over a spanking?
    I am not my child’s friend. I am their mother.
    Their friend can leave and find another friend or unfriend them if your child does not play fair. As a mom, you have them for life. You want them to play fair, to be a gentleman, to be courteous. If they aren’t, you’re the one that will suffer. And so will the rest of the world.
    I feel like a witch, always correcting, always reproving, always disciplining.
    I thought the boys would hate me, especially one child who seemed to receive (and deserve) many spankings. Recently, while reminiscing, that child (now grown up) said he remembered receiving only one spanking. The other boys choked back laughter—they remembered him always getting spanked over something. Did it scar him? Not a chance. Did he learn obedience? You bet.
    It was consistent, in love, over the long haul.
    Did I wonder if it was making a difference? Absolutely.
    Did I want to give up? You bet.
    But I started when they were young, and I kept at it until they obeyed.
    I am now rewarded with courteous gentlemen I can be proud of. (Although as they get older, I must remember their choices aren’t always mine.)
    Recently a young mother mentioned if she should be encouraged or not when she heard me correcting our younger boys with basic things like “Say please, thank you…” She thought her job would be easier by their age.
    Yes, and no. Obedience is always hard. No child reaches perfection before they die, nor before they leave your house.
  8. If you give a command, then demand obedience. And Win.
    Sometimes I’m just too tired to follow through if they don’t choose to obey. When I know I don’t have enough energy, I don’t give the command. Picking up their toys is not battle that I can fight now, I will look the other way, so I won’t have to discipline. But I cannot use that excuse too many times, or they will think they have won. (Some discipline issues in the teenage years have resulted from my lack of energy when they were young. Harder to address.)
    But if I tell them to pick up their toys, and they refuse, then I must do battle.
    Battle is not a nice term. We want to get along. We want harmony. We want peace. But peace only comes when someone is in charge and the others follow. If you are not in charge, your child is. Do you want a toddler dictating to you what you will do?
    If he doesn’t learn that you are in charge, how will he learn at school when his teacher (or you if you homeschool) requires that he follows directions? How will he work, if he won’t do it your way?
    Obedience is the foundation to learning.
    Battle for obedience. It is a fight. You must win. Even when you win, you will second-guess yourself and wonder if this is worth it, especially when they do it again in an hour and you must battle again. But fight to win and win you must, so your child will learn to submit to your authority.
    That authority is not theirs, it’s not the governments. It’s yours. Given to you by God. It is a trust God places in your hands to guard and control. Hold it. Keep it. Honor it.
    By doing those things, God will bless you with children that rise up and call you “blessed.” That is a gift worthy of the price that it takes.
  9. What about disciplining in public?
    In this day where students control the classroom, people report their neighbors for mistreating their dogs, and people are given authority to tell on anyone, because they can … be cautious of disciplining in public.
    But also know, your child is smart. They will soon realize that you won’t discipline in public and will use it against you. (Remember it’s a battle of the wills—theirs and yours.)
    God gave mothers a nerve that hurts when pinched on a child’s shoulder. You can pinch it without leaving marks, use it to get their attention when they aren’t listening in public. It will cause them to wince and maybe even squeal (depending upon how dramatic your child is) then you can correct with a calm voice.
    When my children were small, I didn’t allow them to dictate what I bought. Yes, they were with me while I shopped for groceries. If they were small, they were in the basket. If they were old enough to stay beside the cart, they could help take things off the shelf and put them into the basket. When they were older, they pushed the cart and followed me. I’d sometimes have three carts following me through a store. I would point to what I needed and keep moving.
     
  10. Getting in and out of the car is a CHORE. I always thought pregnant and new mothers should be able to park in disabled parking spots—I certainly felt disabled! How do you get three children out of car seats and safely through the parking lot without losing them? This is also where obedience is a matter of life and death. (Although from watching other parents, with their toddlers strewn several yards behind them, I wonder.) Obedience is for their SAFETY. I tell them, “Cars don’t see little people. They will back up and run you over without even seeing you. Stay with me.”
    I park near the cart bin so I can get a cart before the boys get out. When I get the oldest out of his car seat, he stands by the back tire and waits. I remind him not to touch the tire or he will look like the tire ran over him. (Why do boys have to wallow on the tires?) The next one, stands and waits, again by the back tire. Finally, you remove the car seat with the baby. You have now exited the vehicle and are ready to walk into the store! Take a deep breath. You have accomplished something. The older boys can either crawl/climb into the cart (I couldn’t always lift them.) Or hold onto the side.
    (If your husband shops with you, thank him every time! Your battle is cut in half! That was something mine couldn’t do. Another reason why shopping once a month helps.)
     
  11. We had an incident where one of our boys took something he didn’t buy. I found out in the parking lot. We marched back inside to see the manager. While I stood behind him, he had to apologize and make restitution. He was quite small, but old enough to know better. That was the only time he did that. (For which I was grateful.)

I also stress while shopping that “If we break it, we buy a damaged, worthless thing.” I do take the boys into “NO-TOUCH Stores.” Not regularly, but on occasion. I instruct them at the door that they must keep their hands at their sides and not touch anything. If they forget, I suggest putting their hands in their pockets, and one hand stays in mine. If we still have problems remembering, we leave the store. (They may not be as disappointed as I am, but I can shop later—maybe when I retire.)

Going to the library has two rules: use a library voice and don’t run. We stopped going to the library when one son couldn’t master a library voice. He had “loud and louder.” We returned to the library after he mastered it, maybe.

You know those rides outside old grocery stores, where you can sit your toddler on a horse and he could ride it for $.50? At times, I would allow the boys to sit on them, but never put in the money. That way when the baby fussed, we were ready to leave. Always giving them a warning before they had to finish their ride. Some generous person often offered money to make the ride move, I would decline most of the time, unless they persisted. It was a real treat to have the horse actually move! It wasn’t that I didn’t have the money, it was more I didn’t have the time. And needed to be ready to leave when the baby dictated. But a little reward for the children’s help in the store was warranted.

Child Training…when you are consistent and loving, you reap the rewards. Don’t lose hope, energy, or your vision. You are raising the next generation for God’s service. There is much reward, not now, but later when your children rise up and call you blessed. You are not in it for the moment, but for the long-haul. Trust God for the fruit. And just do it, every time, every day and win.



What helps you with discipline?
 

Just reading all of this makes me tired. And very glad my mothering days are over! Now I try to support my children in their child training and pass on your great ideas! Thanks.

I found a recent explanation of male and female psychology immensely helpful in the area of disciplining my son. (According to the book I was reading), basically the male psychology is all about hierarchy and being on top, the female psychology one of "I don't really care who's in charge as long as we all get along." (Discussing it with my husband, he agreed that male psychology is really all about hierarchy.) This really helped explain why I was having issues!! I am content to let things slide a little bit as long as we're all "getting along"...but my son is determined to be on top, and needs to not be in charge. It simplified drastically the steps of discipline for me! I usually would try to determine whether the line had really been crossed or not and most often it had not directly/obviously been and so I felt like I could not discipline (even though I could detect definite defiance in the attitude.) Instead of this laborious process of focusing on the rules and trying to figure out whether the rules really were broken or not, I realized that discipline of this son really comes down to one thing: I have to be on top. And on top in his mind. It doesn't really matter if he's stepped over the line, if he TOES the line in defiance, it means he's on top in his mind. And that's what I am disciplining for, to show him how to submit to authority.

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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