LIFE IN BALANCE-Raising disciplined ChildrenAdeshola Ezeokoli
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”- The Bible
Here are a few tips on raising a well- behaved, disciplined child. Now, because my children are little and I am writing from experience, this will apply more to new parents and parents with pre-school children.
1. Take responsibility. Children are primarily taught by their parents especially in the first few years. No preschool is going to do this for you. You have to decide as a parent that there are only two choices: I will be responsible for my child’s discipline or I will be responsible for my child’s discipline.
2.Be realistic. Active disciplining of a child cannot really start before 9 months of age. Prior to that, however, routines should be created so that a child knows what to expect.
3.Be consistent. The Bible says, let your yes, be yes and your no, be no. This applies to child rearing. Something your child does cannot be right today and wrong tomorrow. Do not discipline a child depending on your mood. This creates a confused child. If she pulls the dog’s tail, don’t “time-out” her for it today and laugh about it tomorrow.
4. Be clear. If the consequence for hitting sister is a five minute time out, let your child know that. After a discipline, remind your child what he/she did and why such-and-such discipline was applied. Be concise. Children at that young age do not need a lecture on the original sin of man( 🙂 ).
5. Be disciplined. Be godly. Be disciplined yourself. Be law abiding. Be punctual. Keep your word. Keep your temper. Watch your mouth. Model the types of behavior you expect from your children. If you have a potty mouth, your child will too. If you are friendly your child will probably be too. In case you haven’t noticed, they pick up on your bad behavior more readily than the good behavior.
6. Be age appropriate in your expectations. There are certain behaviors expected from children of certain ages. Bring your child up to speed. A nine month old is expected to cry when sleepy, a five year old is not. A two year old is expected to throw tantrums, a four year old is not. A one year old is expected to go “pee-pee” on himself, a five year old is not. A three month old can be rocked to sleep, a nine month old should not. A three year old will get messy when they eat, that is not a discipline issue. One of my friends, Popee said to me, “We sometimes expect our children to know things that it took us twenty years to learn”. That gave me something to ponder.
7. Be verbal. Talk to your small children even when it is not an active “disciplining moment” and let them know what your expectations are. For instance while potty training my one year old, I used to tell her,”Big girls go pee-pee in the potty, not in the diaper”. Children usually understand more than we give them credit for. You have to tell them what to do! Do not assume that they know. If you want your child to sit down and not jump around screaming, please, by all means, tell them so. If you want them not to poke a hole in the frosting of the cake, tell them.
8. Be firm. You are the parent. Do not let your child wrest control from you. Do not think, they are too small, they don’t know what they are doing or- here is a favorite one of mine-if I do such-and-such, they will cry. Oh please!!! Get some backbone and do not be wishy-washy! No candy after six pm means no candy after six pm, no matter how much they cry. They will soon get the message.
9. Boundaries. Everyone has to learn at some point that there are things you can do, and there are things you cannot do. It is better for them to learn it now than to learn it in a penitentiary! For example, it does not matter how angry you are, you cannot hit mommy. I am astounded whenever I see two to three year old children in shopping carts hitting their mom because she said no to them picking up something. How ever did they get it into their heads that that was even an option to consider?! Once I heard a two year old boy say “shut up” to his mother. Guess what? Instead of dealing with the behavior she said, “oh he doesn’t know what he is doing”. I was shocked to my very core! If at the age of six he calls his mom the b-word, should we be surprised?
10. Be loving. Do not treat your children with disdain,impatience or disrespect. Children have to know that you love them, no matter what the present situation is. It doesn’t matter if you have to give them ten time-outs in a day. Do not nag them or constantly go on and on about what they did or did not do. Relate with them on their level. Be nice and kind to them. Don’t just feed them, clothe them and send them on their way. Reach out to them, reward good behavior, treat them without partiality, be fair to them. Tell them you love them on a DAILY basis( even when they are grown). Manage your expectations.