Saturday, July 21, 2012

Early Grammar Stage Focus - Discipline

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This is part nine of my series based on the article 10 Things To Do With Your Child Before Age 10.  To learn more about what I am doing, read my first post on Reading and Writing.

You can get this "10 things..." article plus SO much more information in the book Teaching the Trivium from the good people at Trivium Pursuit.

This week's focus is on Discipline.

I feel a little funny writing about this topic because I am no where near the perfect parent and my children are no where near near the perfect children (but God made us perfect for each other! =)   As far as discipline and obedience goes, we are still in the training process, but I still want to share with you all today because the article mentioned above has some great thoughts on the subject.

This section of the article begins by saying that if the area of discipline is neglected, you might as well forget about academics.  If our children do not learn to be obedient to us, then they will most likely struggle with self-discipline in their own life.  We work on that a lot in my home.  It is fun to do loud, active things sometimes, but we also need to learn to be in control of our body and our mouths (and our thoughts...but we're not tackling that one yet with our 3 and 2 year olds =).

Ideally, we should have the respect of our children, they should love to please us, and they should be obedient (happily) at our first request.  I don't know that this is ever possible to get 100%, but it's a good goal!  Also, as children mature, you want them to be critical thinkers and not just follow commands blindly, so this concept needs to be tweaked at each developmental stage.  For example, it is appropriate for two year olds to obey for no reason other than because their parent told them to.  A four year old has new processes going on in his head and wants to know "why?"  It is good to explain things to this aged child, but it is not appropriate for them to need to know the answer in order for them to obey.

I have found with my children that a huge impact on their obedience (and attitude that goes along with it) is my attitude.  If I let my 'in the moment' anger get in the way, it doesn't accomplish much and in fact I am convinced that it causes more anger and aggression in my children in the near future.  So, as parents it is very important for us to react calmly and lovingly, yet still unwaveringly.  It is also important to make sure that you child hears you when you give them a command or ask them a question.  In order for that to happen, you need to train them that it is of utmost importance for them to look at you right away when they hear your voice.  This is for their safety if nothing else!

I do want to make clear that the goal of discipline is not to make robots of our children.  Ultimately it is to have an enjoyable, peaceful home and to win our children's hearts, to guide them to loving God, and to raise thoughtful, considerate, teachable, young adults.

If for no other reason...

 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), "that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land."  Fathers, do no provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.   Ephesians 6:1-4

This section in the article has a few other very informative sub-sections on socialization, work ethic, having a peaceful home, having a good attitude, and a few others.  They are definitely worth a read!  Even if you do not agree with every word, there is much food for thought. 

How do you handle obedience and discipline in your home?  What do you expect from your children and how do you go about getting it?  I'd love to hear some tips from you, or ask a question that someone else here can help answer!

Check out how we are doing in this area in my follow up post, Discipline Re-Visited.
This post is a part of the following series:

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  1. While none of us in perfect in our parenting or consistent all the time, we are called to disciple/discipline the children the Lord blesses us with. What a wonderful post you've written; I'm sure many moms will be encouraged to continue to hard work of training their young ones! The best tip I have is to pray and persevere!

    Visiting from Domestically Divine. :)

  2. Oh I am in the midst of the struggles of discipline right now! I feel like it's all I do day in and day out. Yet, I know that it's important to be consistent and stick to your guns, so that's what I'm trying to do. My question is how to discipline a child who doesn't respond to time-outs or spankings and who doesn't have anything you can take away that would "encourage" her obedience. It's so tough when there aren't logical consequences--or at least I can't see them. Any suggestions?

    Thanks for your post. I agree with everything you say, especially about the importance of Mama's attitude when disciplining. I tend to get angry and frustrated, but I can already see my kids rebelling more because of my bad attitude. That is something I'm praying about and working on.

    1. Sometimes I feel that way with my son! I think he picks up on my bad attitude big time and don't have the maturity to be the first to make a change (so that leaves me to be the bigger person =)

      Could you try turning things around a bit? Purposely give her tasks that you know she can do easily, then praise her when she does it. Do things with her that she finds fun (not as a reward when she has been disobedient, but at a neutral time). Let her see how nice it is when things are happy in the house and maybe she will change her attitude a bit without even knowing it!

      I definitely know where you are coming from (although not the specifics, so forgive me if my suggestions are way off base!) Like you said, keep being're doing a great job!

    2. Keri, I have had this struggle too! I was the kind of child who was eager for my parents' approval so usually aimed to please; my son is not like that at all and at times is VERY defiant and disrespectful. For a long time the only really effective discipline we had was taking away half an hour of his screen time for each bad behavior--but since he gets 3 half hours a day maximum, eventually that runs out of steam.

      Recently it seems we've finally found an effective strategy to encourage him to be good all day! Maybe it will work with your daughter. I hope so!

  3. Stopping by from Women Living Well... Gotta tell you that I am giddy-excited about finding a blog on classical homeschooling. My son will be four in Dec and we're going to start doing some informal preschool stuff {letters, numbers} in August... So, I know we're not knee-deep in the classical method yet, but that's our goal. Glad to have a resource!

    1. Yea! My oldest will be four next month, so we are in a similar boat! Have you seen my Early Grammar Stage series? It could be beneficial to you as you begin this journey =)

  4. Hopping over from Mom's Library. Great post! You are so right that we can't educate our children without the discipline first. All of our children know Ephesians 6:1 by heart.

    1. Mine too =) Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  5. Good post and good encouragement to keep up with the discipline! Some days it feels like between taking care of my twin babies and discipline my two older boys that is all I do! I have found setting clear expectations and clear consequences and ALWAYS being consistent really helps. My second born, who is 3, has been very stubborn and moody since birth. I feel like some of the wrinkles are finally beginning to iron out as we consistently discipline. My oldest has always been quite compliant. He just turned 8 and we are starting to have some attitude problems (he really really doesn't like that mom makes him do a minimal amout of school work in the summers when all of his friends have off). I'm a bit stumped about how to handle these attitude issues. We talk about applicable bible verses and I pray for him...but the attitudes persistent. It's a hump I'm anxious to get over!

    1. Trisha, my 7-year-old often has a bad attitude, and one thing I've learned to check is whether I am showing him that I heard his feelings. That doesn't mean I have to act like I agree with him--just show that I heard him. Here's an example of not hearing him:

      KID: Mushrooms?! Yuck! Don't expect ME to eat THAT!!
      MAMA: This is what's for dinner.
      KID: Well I am NOT going to eat ANY! You HAVE to make me a frozen lasagna!
      MAMA: I do not have to. Yesterday you liked the fried rice that had mushrooms in it. Actually I think those frozen lasagnas have mushrooms too. You will like them in this sauce.
      KID: I WILL NOT!!!!
      MAMA: Stop yelling! Go to your room!

      Here's how it can go if I show that I hear him:
      KID: Mushrooms?! Yuck! Don't expect ME to eat THAT!!
      MAMA: You don't feel like eating mushrooms.
      KID: No, so could you not mix them into everything?
      MAMA: You'd rather have the mushrooms on the side.
      KID: I'll try them if they're separate, but if they're in the sauce then it will all taste terrible.
      MAMA: Okay, I'll cook the mushrooms in another pan and serve yours in a separate dish. Daddy and I can mix them into our sauce.

      Sometimes I do end up agreeing to do something different/special for him, but when he feels heard he'll ask for something more reasonable than if it whips up into a big power struggle!

    2. Trisha, I think what you said nailed it..."clear expectations, clear consequences, and always being consistent." It's just hard to be consistent sometimes =) I just try most to make sure that I am calm and my attitude is right, so I know that I'm not the one at fault. Ultimately if you child is not yet saved, you cannot change their heart, which is hard for us parents! Also, I find that when I have a baby in the house, not much gets done, so take heart that life will soon feel like more than just discipline =) Keep pressing on, mama!

  6. I agree that we must stay calm and be consistent. Too often I hear parents warn, warn, warn, and then say, "I've had it." At this point it is not about what the child has done, but about how the parent feels. I think starting early is so important. It is much easier to discipline a younger child than to break bad habits in an older one. I think you are right on. Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!

    1. Featuring you this week! Can't wait to see what you link up next.

    2. Wow, thanks! I'm a little behind today, so I didn't get over to your link-up yet, but I'll try to =)


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