I have been wrestling with the word “discipline” lately. The actual dictionary definition is, “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.” Really?
When I think of discipline, I guess I think of being disciplined as doing what is expected, not being out of line. But using punishment is not exactly how I feel we should teach our kids to behave.
I like to think of the word “train” instead. We set the example, we encourage the positive behavior, and we teach and point out consequences of negative behavior. Modeling the behavior that you expect sounds so obvious, but it isn’t easy.
Here’s an example of how this awareness played out in our home. A year or so ago, I was so concerned that one of our kids was a yeller. They yelled a lot, pretty much anytime that they were the least bit upset. Oh no, I thought, this kid’s temper is out of control! Why do they yell so much?
And what did I do when they yelled? I yelled back. How did they learn that people yell when they are upset? From me.
If we focus on our own behavior first, our kids will not only feel safer, they will learn from us. This sounds so simple, but it is hard! Always telling the truth, apologizing when you’ve hurt someone, following through on promises, and respecting others is definitely harder than reacting to our kids’ behavior with punishment. However, it is so much healthier!
A big area of needed growth for me right now is the state of my house. It is usually a mess. I love order, but I am not very disciplined and often a procrastinator. A procrastinating perfectionist is someone who spends a lot of time disappointing herself and a lot of energy griping at her family about the state of disorder in their home.
My kids excel at making messes. One of them is a creative, and makes messes out of the literal trash (or recycling) bin. One of them is blind and his favorite toy is marbles! They are good at play, often creative play, which should make me happy…but it makes me crazy! They never pick up after themselves.
I do a ton of nagging and complaining and occasional cussing when I’m home alone on Monday morning, picking up their messes while they’re at school. But, what if I learned to be more disciplined and picked up after myself? Then would I have time to see and remind them of their messes and even help them clean them up? Would they remember when they saw me keeping things tidy and that the neatness of the house made me happy? Maybe!
We should model the kind of behavior we want to see in our children…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. The added benefit of doing so is that I will be training my kids and myself in the process, and I’m quick to admit that I’m just as much of a work in progress as my children are!
You’ll also like An Easy Way to Teach Your Kids You’re the Mom, Not the Maid (Video), Why I Don’t Have Just One Parenting Style, Toddlers, Tantrums & Time Out: How To Deal with Discipline, You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Be a Great Mom, Are You Typecasting Your Children and Limiting Their Abilities? and Dear SAHM: I See You and Want You to Know These 8 Things.