Thursday, June 25, 2009

The peace of three small ones napping was rudely blasted away by the grating wail of two year old Peanut Butter.

I sighed helplessly. How do I respond? I knew from experience that the wail meant nothing more than that he was grumpy. I knew that in another minute or two his brother and sister would wake up from the noise. Going in to spank him for indulging in such a selfish outburst would only wake them up more quickly, and what good would it do? I had spent the last several months cracking down on his behavior to no avail. I was tired of always coming across as angry to him. But ignoring it doesn't seem to help, either. The grating wail blasts loudly on until I face it, somehow. I reluctantly entered the bedroom and met the grumpy two year old and two other sleepy but wide awake faces.

Discouraged, later that evening I described that scene to My Hero. "I just have to accept that it's the way it is," I said. "I've tried to change him, and nothing makes a difference. I'm tired of coming across as always disapproving. Especially since it doesn't help." A few days before, Christopher Robin had told me that Peanut Butter said to him, "Mommy's mean to me." Putting that together with the kind of days we had had, and my heart sank. I didn't want him to see me as targeting him, a mean, angry, impossible to please mother. I decided to put my effort into accepting him for who he is, even when the behavior is ugly. "I can't change him," I told My Hero. "Oh, he can change," My Hero countered. "It just takes a long time. Remember how long it took us to teach him to stay in his bed at bedtime? You just have to get through to him that it's really not worth it to him." Light dawned, hope stirred. He can be taught, it just takes way longer than I would expect. It takes consistent, painful discipline. For a LONG time.

So that's what I'm working on these days. After a 5 day visit from their grandparents, both Peanut Butter and Christopher Robin have needed a lot more spanks to curb the whining and misbehavior that accompanies the mindset that life revolves around them and their whims. I think before I had kids I expected to be better at disciplining them than I am, but I do believe I'm getting better as I see good results come from it, and their misbehavior is less and less cute.

Also, any self-doubt I have about the importance of disciplining them is washed away by these:

"My child, don't ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don't be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights." Prov. 3:11 NLT

"If you refuse to discipline your children, it proves you don't love them; if you love your children, you will be prompt to discipline them." Prov. 13:24 NLT

"Discipline your children while there is hope. If you don't, you will ruin their lives." Prov. 19:18 NLT

"A youngster's heart is filled with foolishness, but discipline will drive it away." Prov. 22:15 NLT

"Don't fail to correct your children. They won't die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death." Prov. 23:13-14 NLT

"To discipline and reprimand a child produces wisdom, but a mother is disgraced by an undisciplined child." Prov. 29:14 NLT

"Discipline your children, and they will give you happiness and peace of mind." Prov. 29:17 NLT


Sue said...

This is really good..thank you for sharing your heart. I don't know what it's like yet..the process of training a child, but I DO know that it's not going to be easy. I appreciate your wisdom and encouragement. I file it away for future use. You are really such a good example of the kind of mother that I desire to hopefully be someday {soon}!

Autumn said...

Wow - those are some great verses! I haven't reached the point of disciplining our little one yet, but I know the day will be here before I know it, and it will take real intentionality to be consistent. I know it must be discouraging at times. It makes me think of how God feels when I keeping sinning, and he keeps correcting... Will I ever learn? Yes, but it's a slow process. Watching you raise your kids is an inspiration to me to be intentional about raising my own.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

My daughter's daycare teacher disciplines the kids without getting mad. It is truly astonishing to watch. Basically she has a list in her head of what behavior is acceptable and what is not acceptable, and she knows what the consequences will be for not acceptable behavior, and she IMMEDIATELY acts on it. So to take a kind of silly example: a child stands on the lunch table. She says, firmly but unemotionally, "People don't stand on tables." And she sets the kid in timeout. The kid weeps and wails in timeout but she ignores him utterly. Usually the kid tries it one or two more times, gets the exact same response, and then gives it up.

Of course it's easier for her to be unemotional because a> she's getting plenty of sleep and b> she knows she'll have time alone in the evening. But still, it's something I strive for!

The most important thing to remember is that the kid is not trying to punish YOU. Took me a long time to internalize that... Most likely he's just trying to get your attention!