By Maria Fontaine
Parenting is more than comforting children when they fall down, or making sure they get proper nutrition, and brush their teeth, and so on. Parents are responsible for their children’s spiritual training as well, and the foundation stone of that training is loving and consistent discipline—and when I say “loving,” I mean reasonable, even-tempered, and nonviolent. Children begin forming behavior patterns and their ideas of right and wrong very early in life, so the earlier you can start teaching them, the better.
Discipline means training your children to lead a disciplined life, and eventually to discipline themselves. If discipline is something that you only do “to” children, the end result will be that as soon as they get out from under your control, they will go wild. But if you discipline them in the sense of consistently trying to teach them to lead disciplined lives, eventually they will be able to discipline themselves.
Discipline is not only about correction or the consequences for unacceptable behavior, although those are each a very important part of it. Discipline starts with step-by-step teaching, setting clear boundaries and guidelines, setting a good example in your own behavior, and being consistent.
If you’re like most parents, it was initially difficult for you to administer correction, and perhaps it still is. You love your children and don’t want to see them unhappy. You wish with all your heart that there was some way around it, that they could learn the lesson some easier way, but because you do love them, you correct them because you know it’s what they need and what will keep them from being hurt worse later. As the Bible says, discipline “yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
You can’t expect children to learn good behavior on their own; it’s a long-term process that requires consistency, love, and fairness. It’s probably the biggest challenge and the hardest job you’ll ever face as a parent. It’s easier in some ways to just let them run wild and entertain themselves, but in the long run you’ll find that it’s much more worthwhile to do the hard work that is needed to discipline your kids. In fact, you’re in for a lot of heartache if you don’t.
Until children learn the simple, basic lessons of obedience, respect, concern for others, self-control, and discipline, they won’t mature or reach their full potential. They’ll also be less happy and fulfilled in life, and they’ll probably make those around them less than happy too. And if you don’t give children loving, consistent discipline when they’re young, then when they get older they’ll be much harder to handle. You’ll wind up having to really crack down on them to keep them from hurting themselves or others—and it won’t be their fault. It will be your fault for not teaching them earlier, when the stakes weren’t as high.
When you look at it that way, you’ll see that the loving thing to do is to teach your kids from the beginning, gently, lovingly, and consistently showing them how to make the right decisions, laying the boundaries for acceptable behavior, and administering some form of consequence when they cross those boundaries.
So the first step is to believe that discipline is necessary, that your children not only need it in order to grow up to be productive and useful members of society, but also to be happy and secure in their relationship with you, their parent. Deep down inside, children know they need boundaries and want their boundaries to be defined, and they’re happier and more secure when they receive consistent, loving discipline.
Once you make the commitment to be faithful in the training and discipline of your children, there’s another hurdle to cross, which is consistency. There will be times when you’re busy with other responsibilities, times when disciplining would be inconvenient or you will worry about what others would think, times when you don’t want to “spoil the moment,” and times when your children will try every trick in the book to talk you out of it. Unless you’re careful, situations and your own mood or energy level will have a greater bearing than they should on how you mete out discipline; you will either ignore misbehavior because you feel that would be more expedient, or you will resort to sharp words or nagging. But inconsistent discipline, for whatever reason, is confusing and even damaging for children and will only make it harder on you and them. By disciplining consistently, you will need to discipline less, because your children will learn their lessons quicker.
If you’re going to discipline your kids, you have to be involved in what they’re doing. When you make the commitment to train your children to lead disciplined lives, you’re also making a commitment to spend more time with them, because it does take being with them and tuning in to them. You might not enjoy the moments when you have to correct them or discipline them, and at the time it will seem like a lot more work to teach them the right way to do something rather than just letting them do what they want to do. But in the long run, you’ll find that you’ve saved yourself a lot of work, and you’ll enjoy your times with your children much more.
Consistently administering loving discipline has great rewards. In the end, not only will your children love, respect, and enjoy being with you more, but you will feel the same way about them, because you will have helped bring out the best in them.
Taken from the Activated Magazine. Used with Permission
Praise is a superior motivator. Children thrive on praise. It's more important and more beneficial to praise a child for good behavior than it is to scold for bad behavior.
There are times when admonitions and correction are needed, but by learning to preempt problem situations with praise and other positive reinforcement, you will build self-esteem in your children and find yourself less discouraged, exhausted, and frustrated at the end of the day. It's a win-win parenting strategy.
The more you focus on the positive, the more things you will find to praise your child for and the less you will have to deal with bad behavior. Praise encourages actions that warrant more praise.
Be consistent, be sincere, and be creative—but be believable. For example, if the child tries to do something new with disastrous results, commend the effort, not the outcome. Or if the ill-fated attempt was meant to be a surprise for you, commend the thoughtfulness. Always accentuate the positive, and make the good memorable.
25 Ways to Say “Good Job!”
When you vary your words of praise and commendation, it can be more meaningful. “Good job” loses its impact when it’s used repeatedly. Try these alternatives:
1. Good for you.
3. That’s great.
4. I like the way you did that.
5. Much better.
6. Keep it up.
7. It’s a pleasure to see that.
8. What neat work.
9. This is so special.
12. Excellent work.
13. I appreciate your help.
14. Why don’t you show the other kids?
17. Right on.
18. For sure.
20. That’s turning out great.
21. How impressive.
22. You’re on the right track.
23. That’s “A plus” work.
24. It looks like you put a lot of work into this.
25. That’s clever.
Cultivate mutual respect
Mutual respect strengthens the bond of love in a parent-child relationship. It also engenders unity, obedience, and appreciation.
Respect within a family is manifested through consideration, understanding, thoughtfulness, a willingness to listen, and loving communication. And it works both ways; if you want your children to show you respect, show them respect.
Children learn by observation and imitate what they see. If lack of respect is the problem, it probably started with the child's parents, peers, or other influences such as TV, movies, or computer games. Minimizing such negative influences is half the battle; setting clear guidelines as to what's expected and then consistently upholding that standard is the other.
Ways that you can show your children respect include:
Sometimes it seems that children choose the worst possible times to misbehave, and sometimes it is not so much actual misbehavior as it is annoying behavior. When parents are under pressure, are preoccupied with other work or other thoughts, aren't feeling well, or are simply not in a good mood, that's bound to affect the way they interact with their children. Some things that are normally allowed or overlooked—a certain level of noise or rambunctiousness, for example—push the parent over the edge, resulting in harsh words, more severe punishment than the offense actually warrants, or "the look" that sends the message "You're in trouble" but leaves the child confused.
Children usually don't see the big picture, so when a parent's frustrations boil over like that, they often assume more of the blame than they actually deserve, which can lead to even more damaging conclusions—"Mommy wishes I wasn't here," "Daddy doesn't love me," "I'm no good."
Avoid such confidence-shattering misunderstandings by catching yourself short of the boiling point and putting the questionable behavior in context. "I would love to hear you sing that song again, but right now I need to concentrate on driving." "I have a headache, so I'm going to have to ask you to not do that right now." And if you don't catch yourself in time, an after-the-fact explanation and apology will set the record straight. By giving the child an opportunity to be part of the solution to your problem, you will have turned a potentially damaging situation into a positive one.
Parents who are concerned about their children's progress at each stage of their development, as nearly all parents are, need to realize what an important role a child's self-image plays toward that end. Children with positive feelings about themselves, who believe they can succeed, are far more likely to.
Children make their first judgments about themselves and their abilities in the context of their home. Parents can find opportunities every day to develop their children's self-confidence, which in the long run will help them grow into well-adjusted, well-rounded adults.
Parents are often amazed to discover how capable and resourceful their children are in solving their own problems, with a little guidance. All children encounter problems; that is a necessary part of growing up. It is through dealing with such challenges that they learn problem-solving skills that are essential for success in life. It takes time and patience to help children learn to solve their own problems, but it is a wise investment that will pay big dividends when the children get older, their problems become more complex, and the stakes are higher.
One tendency of parents is to be too quick to fix the problem or provide the answer. That may meet the immediate need, but it hinders the learning process. It's like the saying: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for life. Teaching problem-solving is more important and more beneficial in the long run than providing solutions. Helping children work through their problems also shows that you have faith in them, which boosts their confidence and self-esteem.
No matter how much parents love their children and try to meet their needs, situations will come up that cause the children to feel insecure, and insecurity is often reflected in behavioral problems.
Bad behavior needs to be corrected, but unless the parent understands what prompted it, the correction may hinder more than help. Was the misbehavior the result of natural childish experimentation—a bad idea that seemed good or fun at the time? Or was it the result of insecurity—trying to fit in, impress, or win new friends after moving to a new neighborhood or changing schools, for example? Bad behavior is only a symptom, so correction alone is like lopping off the top of a weed; it will soon be back. Parents need to identify and go to work on the root of the problem, the underlying cause.
Depending on the age and maturity level of the child, try to help the child come to his or her own conclusions by approaching it from the problem-solving angle. That may not be easy in the heat of the moment, but remember, the goal is to correct the problem, not to punish the child. By making a clear distinction between the problem and the child and then involving the child in turning the problem situation into a learning situation, it is possible to build rather than undermine self-esteem, even in what might otherwise seem like an impossibly negative situation.
Not all children misbehave when they feel insecure; some become withdrawn or underachieve. But however the insecurity is manifested, the first step in rectifying the problem is to recognize it, and the second step is to go to work on the cause from a positive angle.
Taken from Activated Magazine. Used with permission.
A mother's love is one of the best examples of My love for My children, because a godly mother loves unconditionally, continually, and despite the circumstances. It is a special love that I place in each mother's heart because I knew that through the love that mothers have for their children, all of you would better understand My love.
You may feel incapable in your task as a mother. You see your faults and know that you aren't perfect. But, oh, there is so much beauty surrounding a mother! You mothers resemble Me in the way you unselfishly give, sometimes without seeming to receive much in return, and in the way you pray for your children and support their dreams.
I knew when I gave you children that there would be times of disappointment, desperation, and heartbreak, but I also knew that there would be times of great joy and love beyond measure, and that in your children you would find much of the meaning to your life.
Being a mother requires a lot, but it also has its rewards—the joy of holding a newborn, the smile of a little child, the happy moments shared as a family, the appreciation and respect shown by your grown child, and the love exchanged all along the way. These and many more are My blessings for all that you give up to be a mother. And one day here in Heaven you will receive the ultimate reward for all that you have given. It will be the greatest family reunion ever, untarnished by tears or earthly limitations, where unveiled love will envelop you. In that moment you will experience the rewards of motherhood to the full.
A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.--Tenneva Jordan
The best medicine in the world is a mother’s kiss.--Anonymous
Mama was my greatest teacher—a teacher of compassion, love, and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.--Stevie Wonder
To a child’s ear, “mother” is magic in any language.--Arlene Benedict
Youth fades, love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; a mother’s secret hope outlives them all.--Oliver Wendell Holmes
A mother is the truest friend we have when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.--Washington Irving
God sees us through our mothers’ eyes and rewards us for our virtues.--Ganeshan Venkatarman
Mother is the bank where we deposit all our hurts and worries.--Unknown
My mother’s love for me was so great I have worked hard to justify it.--Marc Chagall
No influence is so powerful as that of the mother.--Sarah Josepha Hale
The strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.--Barbara Kingsolver
Mothers are instinctive philosophers.--Harriet Beecher Stowe
A good mother is worth hundreds of schoolmasters.--George Herbert
The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.--Henry Ward Beecher
Mother-love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.--Unknown
A mother loves her children even when they least deserve to be loved.--Kate Samperi
Mother is the one we count on for the things that matter most of all.--Katharine Butler Hathaway
A mother understands what a child does not say.--Jewish proverb
All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.--George Washington
The noblest calling in the world is that of a mother. True motherhood is the most beautiful of all arts, the greatest of all professions. She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves the plaudits and admiration of mankind, but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters whose immortal souls will be exerting an influence throughout the ages, long after paintings shall have faded and books and statues shall have been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give.--David O. McKay
Taken from Activated magazine. Used with permission.
Courtesy of Ann Landers
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I wanted to paint another one.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you feed a stray cat, and I thought it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you make my favorite cake just for me, and I knew that little things are special.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I believed there is a God I could always talk to.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I felt you kiss me goodnight, and I felt loved.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw tears com to your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it’s okay to cry.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.
When you thought I wasn’t looking, I looked – and wanted to say thank you for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.