Reflections on Discipline

Posted by  | Friday, February 15, 2008  at 9:06 AM  
I have done a lot of reflecting this week on our topic of discipline. If I had been the one to kick-off this topic my post would have looked a whole lot like Leah's. I've read, and firmly agree, with Tedd Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart and Ginger Plowman's Don't Make Me Count to Three, to name a few of the godly parenting books that have influenced the hows of discipline in our home. What I've been confronted with is how I am not requiring obedience in all things. At 17 + months, I am amazed at the things Lydia will do obediently. Although, as I reflect on them, it is because I have worked hard in training her. There are things she does not do, though. This is because I haven't been faithful in training her to obey in all areas. Here are a few that I've been reflecting on:
  • When I ask her to help me pick up her toys, but I pick them up and finish the task rather than requiring her to obey as I've asked
  • When I ask her to put her hands together to pray for her food and she's hungry and ready to dig in and I find myself putting her hands together and holding them together while we pray
  • When she runs up to me to be picked and then immediately squirms to get loose, over and over
  • When I have her sitting on the cabinet tying on her shoes and she plays with the light switch turning it on and off (sometimes I will tell her no and other times I'm totally inconsistent and "just live with it" because we're in a hurry)

There are others, but you get the idea. I also have thought long and hard about other areas I want to train her in (such as learning to sit still in my lap when I ask and not just when it suits her). So, I hardly feel as if I should be posting anything about discipline except to confess my inconsistencies for Lydia. As I've reflected though, I've also realized that as she's home with me her attitude is much better and more obedient than when she is around nationals. In the culture in which we live, if a baby cries the baby get what he wants. . . immediately. While I'm in language lessons, Lydia also has a "teacher" (babysitter) who plays with her. Children are smart! Lydia knows that if she cries, she gets her way with a national. After being around them for a little while, Lydia is always more apt to portray this behavior with Josh and me too (whiny, crying, etc.).

I've spent the week reading through Raising Godly Tomatoes and thinking through the changes that I am going to start - immediately! It truly is all about training and I want to be faithful to train up my child in the way she should go. . . that in the end she won't depart from the Truth!

I wonder if anyone else feels like this - with this ideal out there but in reality it's not being implemented consistently. . . in all areas? And, what advice anyone might have in dealing with the change in Lydia's attitude and behavior when she's with nationals. Finally, I would love to hear thoughts on obedience when it comes to food. I do not want to make food a battleground, however, with a small toddler, is it feasible to say that this is the meal I've cooked and it's either this or nothing?


Christina said...

Lots of good stuff Krista! I too struggle with the lack of discipline in certain areas. The one about picking up toys is something we have been working on and making progress with! We will help him, but he must continue to put toys away with us until we are done. We also are getting better about being sure this actually happens before naps and bedtime so that he gets used to cleaning up regularly.

Interesting about how Lydia acts with the regionals! We see the same thing about how Will acts in other situations where the discpline isn't quite as consistent as at home. I have NO advice for you - especially because its such a cultural thing. For us, we just keep the lines of communication open and try to make our expectations clear to those that care for Will.

The food question is definitely one we're working through too. Currently, he gets his meal and if he doesn't eat then he doesn't eat it. (I do try to make up for it at the next snack time or meal time) Usually, he is just not that hungry if he won't eat - otherwise he's a great eater and not too picky yet.

Anyways - I'm looking forward to reading other comments on these issues.

Shannon said...

I agree wholeheartedly, and I'm right there with you in the area of not requiring obedience in some areas, while being diligent in others. Sometimes I don't even notice it! (Picking up toys- exactly!)

We have noticed in our travels - everywhere we go overseas - that when a baby/child cries/whines, he gets what he wants - immediately!! It's very frustrating to watch, and as I was reading your post, I wondered how you dealt with it.

Is it appropriate to talk with Lydia's "teacher", and explain how you require obedience from her? Perhaps even explain that Father has given you a responsibility in this?

I know this is a totally foreign concept, especially in cultures where male children are highly favored. I will be very interested to hear what interventions you end up using.

We've also found that we have to go no further than our in-laws' house to find folks who will give in to our child's every whim. And we have to consistently share with family (and friends!) what we expect of Maggie, and how they're helping us if THEY expect it of her too.

But we do find ourselves "living with" a bunch of little things that aunts & grandparents just "can't" help. ;)

Good post - thanks for your honesty!


Shannon said...

Does anyone have suggestions on disciplining for whining/crying? We try to correct Maggie for it, but everything we do just makes her whining or crying escalate! Is 20 months too young to try to discipline for this??? Help, mamas!

Leah said...

Thanks for the honest post, Krista. I hope I didn't give the impression that we have it all together - we DEFINITELY don't! We struggle with the same things: consistency, diligence, etc.

I wanted to address the food issue quickly. I think there is a fine line to be walked when dealing with food. I don't want to make food a battleground - especially with Samuel b/c of his weight gain issues (as in, he isn't gaining any). I am strict in that I make him sit in his chair during mealtime and make him ask for "more" or tell me "all done". He is offered what I have made for him. If he doesn't eat it, fine. He has every opportunity to, and then we leave it go. The doctor has assured me that he will eventually eat if he is hungry. My husband wanted to try to force him to eat his food each meal b/c he was so worried about his weight, but the dr. told us not to make it into a battle and then have to deal with all these extra issues of Samuel resenting mealtimes.

Finally, as to the nationals issue, I would say that you need to concentrate first and foremost on consistency at home. Lydia will soon be old enough to understand what you require of her, no matter where you are. I think for your family, it is most important to continue to deal with those around you with grace. You will probaby have to choose your battles wisely, and this one may be one to go easy on. I would say by the time Lydia is 2 or so, she will begin to understand she must obey you both in and out of the home.

Okay, gotta run. Sorry I wrote so much!!

Anonymous said...

My middle child is the queen of whining (she is 3). What I have found that works the best is telling her it is okay to whine and express her feelings but it is not okay for me to hear it. I tell her if she chooses to whine, then she chooses to go to her bedroom until she is done. She will either stop right then and there, or she will go to her room and whine, cry, scream, or shout- but at least I don't have to hear it. She normally comes back down and will tell me she is sorry!

NotesbyNewsome said...

Hey Krista! I totally know what you're talking about with the "consistency in all areas" and it's one we struggle with too. I will say that at around 18 months James became a VERY picky eater. We were caught off guard by this because before 18 months he would eat anything you put in front of him. Finally what we had to do was cut out all daytime snacks. We had to tell him, "James this is it...there's nothing else to eat after this." He eats a lot better, but there are still times he refuses to eat. I asked my pediatrician about it, and she said, "trust me, he will eat when he's hungry. He won't starve himself." So, now I don't feel bad if he goes to bed and hasn't had that much to eat (and those times are normally followed by him waking up and eating a big breakfast). Meal time is a lot more peaceful now that we're not spending the whole time trying to get him to eat.

Also, James does the same crying thing after visiting with grandparents. It normally takes 2-3 days of lots of discipline and then he returns to normal. So, I have no advice there...I wish I knew how to get him back to normal quicker!!

Hope this helps!


NotesbyNewsome said...

Hi Ladies! I was also thinking that maybe you should request someone to join you on the blog who has experienced the 2 and 3 year old stage of life...I NEVER thought it was true but after 2 really is a whole NEW ballgame (and I've heard 3 is worse...yikes!)!!

Anonymous said...

I agree 3 is by far the hardest of the toddler years. I have two that have gone through and I used to work in a infant room or and a 3 year old room at a quality daycare. I don't believe in the terrible twos- its the threes!!

Leah said...

Thanks for your honesty! Nathan and I were just discussing discipline type issues related to Georgia when we were coming home from church today. She had been in the nursery, and when I picked her up, the workers told us that she was 'really good.' As in, they don't have to hold her all the time, she plays well by herself, and she is just generally good natured. Georgia IS good natured, and generally well-behaved in public...which causes struggles at times when we need to discipline, because she is 'normally so good'. We have to remind ourselves that Georgia is a sinner in need of grace, and a child in need of training, no matter how 'temporarily good' she might be acting. This is especially hard with family, who do not like to see Georgia disciplined, and who are proud of how 'good' she is. We have to keep in front of us all the time that no one is perfect, and that training in every stage is important. Thanks again, to all the ladies, for sharing your thoughts!

Weber's said...

Krista, I enjoyed reading your honesty in this area. It is such a struggle to stay consistent when it comes to discipline!

Katelyn has just started testing us at the dinner table with only eating her favorites on her plate or refusing certain things in front of her. It took her one time of no dinner to realize that this is it- what we eat as a family is her only choice. She went to bed hungry (as we feel if you do not eat dinner- no additional snacks or food is given the rest of the evening)and she woke up with an appetite! She will now say, "I no be hungry, I eat my food."

As far as the whining is concerned (we, like Shannon who posted a comment) send Katelyn to her room when she whines, or crys and pouts just to get her way. We tell her that it is her choice to feel that way but she must sit on her bed until she is finished. We started this early and now at 2 1/2 all we have to do for the most part is say, "Katelyn, do you need to calm down on your bed?" and she will quickly pull herself together.

Everyday is a work in progress! I enjoyed reading your post.

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