Are you a Super Nanny protege or more of a free style parent? Do you believe spanking is commanded by God or the fast-track to psychological problems? Do you bribe or threaten your way to obedience? Well, the truth is, no matter what you believe or how you do it: discipline is one thing all moms have in common. It’s part of the job.
But, I’d venture to say, we have one other thing in common. We ALL struggle with it.
Some days discipline makes me want to scream! It doesn’t feel like it’s working. I wonder if I’m getting through. I get frustrated or (worse) angry. I yell and calm down only when my five year old says, “Mommy, are you in a crabby mood?” (Yes, mommy fails are even better when pointed out by a kindergartener.)
I remember (naively) thinking that the baby days were sooooo hard. Wow, it’ll be easier once they walk and talk and can do some things on their own. But, I was wrong! Sure meeting a baby’s every need is physically and emotionally taxing. But, I think parenting only gets harder when behavior and attitudes need correction.
I’ve read many books and articles on the subject. Some suggestions are great while others I find lame. But, one thing I know for sure. No matter what technique I adopt it’s hard to JUST DO IT!
Why is discipline such a struggle?
I think for me it’s part laziness. I don’t want to stop whatever “progress” I’m making to go break up a fight or give the necessary instruction. It’s a lot of trouble to put down the paring knife in the middle of my dinner prep, wash my hands, and then go play peace officer.
Other days, I’m just TIRED! Being a mom is taxing enough already. Getting them dressed, bathed, fed, happy, rested, shuttled, educated…that all takes an extraordinary amount of effort. Add on to that making them behave? Yikes! Some days I just don’t feel like I have it in me. It feels more like discipline will be the death of me.
Yet, here’s something else I know. They need it. Several of my best conversations with my children have actually come after a time of correction.
We big people place a high value on freedom. Someone putting limits on us sounds rather un-American. But, kids are just the opposite. They can only thrive if they know their boundaries. They are happier when they are clearly shown what is allowed and what is not.
I recently read about a psychological experiment where they observed children playing in a school yard with a fence and without. When the kids were free, ironically, they played very close to the school, acted anxious, and remained huddled together even though it appeared as if they could go anywhere they wanted. But, when the children were fenced in they played all over the yard –even right up against the wall that bound them.
Kids need to know their boundaries to feel secure. Alas, (*sigh*) I guess this discipline thing really is important.
If discipline gets you down, there are lots of great resources out there on the topic. You can google discipline and find articles examining the topic from every angle, perspective, worldview, and genre. There are even local classes you can take on the subject like this one for younger kids, this one offered by a faith-based group, and this one focused on boys. But, everything I’ve ever read on discipline always has one common thread. That is: consistency.
In my almost six years of parenting I’ve been amazed at how effective my correction can be if I don’t pick and choose which times to “lay down the law” and instead, swiftly take action to correct behaviors every time it’s needed. Astonishing, huh?
One other secret I’ve discovered is the key to not getting angry. Realizing that your child is not misbehaving as a direct offense to you helps me take a step back and not get so frustrated when the child repeats the same offense, over and over (and over, and over, and over) again. It’s a child’s nature to test, challenge, and act selfishly (sharing problems, anyone?). To patiently correct them often requires me to understand that they aren’t acting up to aggravate mommy. They are just learning…and it’s my job to teach and guide them. I discipline them because I love them.
What do you think? Is discipline a challenge for you too?