Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Club | Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours

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

It has been a long time since we have looked at our book.  I really do not want to go into the New Year with it, so I am going to do as many posts as possible before we say good bye to 2011.  Here at  home, we have continued using Dr. Leman's principles and have seen them work well for us.

Chapter 6 | The Way to Be Your Child's Best Friend


Reject the Behavior, Love the Child

As you know by now, one of my biggest pet peeves is hearing people tell their children they are bad.  As adults we love receiving compliments, and hearing a negative about us or our work put us in a downward spiral.  How much more are children affected by negative words aimed at them.  They have no way of fighting for themselves, and in turn their behavior becomes increasingly worse.

We absolutely refuse to tell Addie she is a bad girl (and Lord help the person who attempts to say that in my hearing!).  She is not perfect by any means (neither am I for that matter), she is three almost four.  She is going to make mistakes as she learns what is allowed and what is not.  She will have a few meltdowns along the way (as adults, we sometimes do to, but we know how to handle ours, especially in public).  But she and her behavior are not one in the same.

When Addie messes up, one of the things we tell her is that we love her, but we do not like what she did.  We are trying to make a separation that she can understand. 

Always Keep Short Accounts

I think this is one of the most important points.  If a child is constantly reminded of "...the time they....", the frustration of never being able to live their mistake down can overwhelm them and the feeling of "why bother trying" will creep in.  As adults, if we are constantly reminded of our slip ups, mess ups, and mistakes, we give up.  Children are even more vulnerable than we are.

Once we have disciplined the behavior, restitution has been made, I'm sorrys and I forgive yous have been said, the matter is dropped and not brought up again.  We want Addie to know that we are not keeping track of her mistakes.  Afterall, if Jesus wiped our slate clean when we asked Him for forgiveness, who are we to keep tabs of the mistakes of others, especially our children.  We are certainly not more righteous than He was.

Use Your Most Powerful Ally

What is our most powerful ally?  Natural and logical consequences.  Many consequences are "natural" in that they will simply happen if events are left to take their course.  "Logical" consequences are a little different.  The parents set logical consequences ahead of timeby talking to the child about what will happen if certain responsibilities are not met.

Addie loves sleeping with stuffed animals.  Brian decided that, before she was pushed off the bed so her animals could sleep comfortably, she could only have two with her- Taffy and one other buddy.  One evening she kept asking for her cat, Stripes, in addition to her two.  Brian warned her that if she continued asking, she would lose one of the ones she already had.  Addie asked again.  Brian took one of her animals and put it where she could not get it.  She asked again.  This time Taffy was moved out of the room. 

The "logical" consequences had been explained to her, but she chose to find out the hard way that Daddy meant business.  Brian and I ended up having to hide out in our bedroom across the house for a while so she could not hear us as she tearfully called out to her stuffed animals, "I love you, guys!  I'm so proud of you, guys!  I'll see you in the morning! It's all right!  Don't worry!"

Remorse Can Be a Child's Weapon

We all know the drill.  If we say I'm sorry, we'll get out of time-out! Right?  We need to make sure that our children understand that "I'm sorry" means "Please forgive me for the wrong I have done. I will work hard not to do it again."  This is a lesson that takes time to learn.  There are times when I can see the sincerity of Addie's apology, and there are others when I know what a smart little cookie I have.

One thing that we have begun doing here happens after she says I'm sorry to Jesus.  We have since taught her that she needs to ask Jesus to clean her heart.  This extra "step" makes her think about the fact that disobedience (or whatever the infraction was) causes our hearts to be dirty.  I have loved the moments when she asks for her heart to be cleaned and then looks up to the ceiling and says "Thank you!"    

Nine Ways to Be Your Child's Best Friend

1. The discipline should fit the infraction.
2. Never beat or bully your child into submission.
3. Use action-oriented methods whenever possible.
4. Always try to be consistent.
5. Emphasize order and the need for order.
6. Always require your child to be accountable and responsible for his or her own actions.
7. Always communicate to your child that he or she is good, even though the behavior may have been irresponsible.
8. Always give your child choices that reinforce cooperation but not competition.
9. If spanking is necessary, it should be done when you're in control of your emotions.

Addie has been telling Brian and me that we are her best friends for quite some time now.  She has also told me, "Mommy, you're so good to me."  Talk about feeling choked up! 

When I began parenting, I didn't feel like I was qualified.  Our parents were what we measured ourselves up to, and when you are the child, it is hard to know how your own parents felt when they first began parenting.  God has truly upheld us in this journey of parenthood.  He has guided our paths and given us the wisdom necessary for teaching and training our daughter and now our son.  Sometimes the road is smooth.  Sometimes the road is bumpy.  But it is an exciting road to travel on.

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