Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Club Thursday | Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours

We are reading through Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Dr. Kevin Leman.  All direct quotes are in bold type.

....Punishment focuses on the child. And like encouragement, discipline focuses on the behavior of the child.

Ephesians 6:4 TLB, tells us to bring up our children "with loving discipline the Lord himself approves."  I have found there are many ways to discipline a child.  These methods make sense, are direct and swift, and they are action-oriented.  Most important, they produce far better results than traditional punishment.

Dr. Leman gives the example of a mother trying to talk on the phone and her child interrupting her.  He says that punishment would be hollering or losing it.  Dr. Leman recommends the loving discipline of removing the child from the situation by excusing yourself momentarily from the conversation, telling the child that he/she may not interrupt needlessly, and putting them in their bedroom.

This was something that we had to work on in our own family, and we chose to follow Dr. Leman's suggestion.  Mom L can attest to the times I've had to excuse myself from the phone.  I would explain to Addie that she cannot interrupt when Mommy is on the phone unless she is hurt, and then I put her in her room until the conversation was over.  We are now at the point that if I have to speak on the phone while she is awake, she will quietly do something beside me until my conversation is over, and then she proudly says, "Mommy, I didn't talk at you while you were on the phone!" at which point she is hugged and thanked for obeying so beautifully.

Punishment teaches a child that because we- their parents- are bigger and stronger, we can push them around.

You can find no better model for Reality Discipline than Jesus Himself during His ministry on earth.  The Lord never beat His disciples over the head. He always dealt with them directly, fairly, and firmly.  He never screamed and hollered.  He never gave evasive answers.  But He always gave His disciples a choice.  He let them learn to be responsible and to choose for themselves.  Jesus was the model teacher of Reality Discipline.

Clearly, God's Word has set up parents with a practical and sound system.  When they work the system correctly, everybody lives a longer and happier life.  When the system is neglected or ignored through extremes like authoritarianism or permissiveness, things do not go well.

God's way is always best.  When the principles laid out for us in the Bible are followed, life is so much easier and filled with more enjoyment.  Brian and I have found that following the Biblical principles in bringing Addie up in loving discipline has made life so much easier for us.  We have a daughter that is pleasant to be around, is generally obedient, and does not have to be constantly corrected because she knows what our expectations of her are. We enjoy her so much, and we thank God for her out loud so that she hears us on a daily basis.

Proverbs 22:6, NIV, reminds us, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."  Training up a child means putting time and energy into teaching the child acceptable behavior in any number of social situations.

I believe that as you train up your child with loving discipline, his conscience is developed in such a way that he is more likely to behave properly when you aren't there.

The key word here is training.  And training takes time.  It is an investment that does not always show short term returns.  But as any wise investor knows, the dividends gained in the long term are always greater.  It means taking the reins of your child's spiritual and practical teaching, not leaving it up to the church or other groups or teaching fields. 

Our youth pastor recently preached the sermon at our Youth Appreciation Sunday Service and spoke to the parents about taking their time to invest into their teens.  He told the congregation that he only gets their children for a couple of hours a week, and God has not given him the responsibility to raise their children for the Lord.  He is just a supplement to what should be going on at home.  How true is that! 

Using Reality Discipline in a loving way won't guarantee that your children will always be perfect little angels, but I can guarantee that it will breed more honesty and communication between the two of you.

I have found that in our dealings with Addie, because we do not jump all over her, she is more honest about what she does. For this type of response from her, it does mean that we have to have complete control of our emotions when we are having to lovingly discipline her.  Sometimes it also means that we have to tag team our discipline.  If I feel that I am too upset to discipline Addie, Brian will take over and vice versa.

When it comes to apologizing, Addie is able to specifically name what her offense was without prompting from us.  When children feel like they are going to be devoured when they make a mistake or commit an infraction, they are less likely to own up to what they have done.  We want Addie to always be free to share her faults and struggles with us, but for her to do that, she has to feel completely safe sharing those feelings with us knowing that we will lovingly work with her through each phase in her life. 

Brian and I are also very specific when it is our turn to apologize to each other and to Addie.  We name the specifics of our offense and we forgive each other freely and openly.  Children learn by watching, and they watch like little hawks.  If we want children who are humble and admit their mistakes, we have to be parents who are humble and admit ours as well. And we have to be willing to ask for forgiveness from them when we are wrong.  Humble pie is hard to eat, but it is much easier when eaten in front of a three year old rather than a teenager.


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