By Joey and Carla Link
October 26, 2022
In a recent Zoom parenting class, we were leading, every parent in the class admitted they yelled at their kids, which is a common parenting problem. It is a problem because harsh responses to your child’s wrong behavior can affect your child for the rest of his/her life. It also affects the level of respect your child will have for your authority and respect is a necessary component for a child to obey you.
How kids should be disciplined depends on a number of different factors such as age, maturity level, characterization of wrong behavior, and temperament.
What does discipline do?
- It helps your child learn the all-important trait of self-control.
- It helps your child learn to obey.
- It helps your child develop a sense of responsibility.
- It protects your child from his/her immaturity and self-will.
In this same class we talked about how discipline can and should be a teacher. You should never discipline your kids because you are mad at them. The discipline you use needs to teach your kids that their behavior was wrong and why it was wrong and give them motivation to remember that the next time they are tempted to do it again.
Let’s talk about ways you can be positive when working with your kids/teens:
1. Ask questions instead of lecturing. Doesn’t, “I can see you are having a problem getting your chores done on time. What can I do to help you?” sound better than “You never get your stuff done on time! I don’t know what your problem is. Do you stand there and daydream instead of working?!”
2. Speak life to your kids, or be positive when you talk with them. Instead of telling them what not to do (“Stop hitting your sister!”), ask them to give you something they should do (Mom: “What can you do to be nice to your sister?” Child: “I will share my toy with her.”
3. When giving a consequence to your kids, take away what your child misused. Ask your child, “What freedom did you misuse when you should have been setting the table for dinner like I asked you to?” Let’s say your child tells you she wanted to finish reading the chapter in her book. She misused the freedom to read. Mom agreed and took away the privilege of free-time reading.
She asked her daughter (13 yrs.) how long she thought it would take her to get her stuff done first before she did what she wanted to do instead. Mom knew how much her daughter wanted to finish this particular book, so she was surprised when she suggested she should lose the freedom of reading it for a week. By getting your child (9 yrs. and up) to be involved in this process, they won’t say you are unfair and they will have a calm attitude about losing the freedom of something important to them.
4. Work on one behavior at a time with each child. It will help you, your spouse and your kids stay focused on what you are working on. If you work on too many things at a time, you won’t be consistent.
5. Inconsistent parenting confuses your kids because they never know what to expect from you. Consistent parenting teaches your kids if they do a certain wrong behavior they can count on a consequence.
Joey and I, when our kids were growing up would go on weekly dates. The first week of each month we called our “kid date”. This wasn’t because the kids went on the date with us, but rather because this was the only date we allowed ourselves to talk about the kids. Having this time allowed us to review where our kids were at on the behavior we were working on with each of them and on past behaviors we had seen victory in as well.
We gave letter grades to how they were doing and if they didn’t get an “A” or “B”, we came up with one way we were going to be united in working on it with them until they pulled that grade up. If we had fallen into the trap of reminding, we decided on an appropriate consequence to give them instead of constant reminders. This time kept us on the same page in our parenting and since we knew where we were going in the training of our kids, neither of us were caught trying to remember what we were supposed to be doing with a particular child.
6. Don’t forget about context. Is your child overtired, overwhelmed or overstimulated? All of these will cause cranky kids and requiring them to obey or follow family rules during these times may be more than a particular child can give.
When the winter months hit the Midwestern United States, Joey made sure he found ways for our kids to get physical exercise because we knew that too much pent-up energy was a recipe for disaster.
7. Have couch time at least 4-5 nights a week. This is a time you chat with your spouse. Your kids don’t have the freedom to interrupt you and they have to know you are doing it. Seeing a positive relationship between their parents gives kids of all ages stability and security.
8. Don’t forget to meet your kids’ love language needs. Each of your kids needs you to speak love to them in one of these 5 ways: Giving gifts (doesn’t have to be material things), giving your undivided attention to them, giving them cuddles or hugs or just being in close proximity to them like sitting next to them on the couch when watching a movie, giving them words of encouragement (which is not the same as praising them), or serving them in a unique way.
9. Do remember to praise and encourage your kids. We get on them when they do something wrong, but are we consistent about telling them when they do something right? Praising your kids is more than saying “Good job!” What did they do a good job in? Be specific. “Your room looks great! I can tell you put extra effort into cleaning it” will settle into your child’s heart for a long time.
Encouraging your kids is literally “giving them courage” or hope. “I know you can do a good job on that project for school. Dad and I can’t wait to see it when it is done!” is giving your kids courage to put their best effort into the project.
We hope you feel encouraged to work with your kids using positivity rather than just correcting them with consequences. When you get into the habit of doing what we mentioned above you will find it doesn’t consume a lot of time to be consistent doing them,
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”