We have been talking quite a bit of late about power, authority and boundaries in parenting. Our book study of “Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers” by Neufeld and Mate spurred the discussion, but boundaries are something I have ALWAYS discussed on this blog. You can go through the archives or use “boundaries” in the search engine to pull up back posts.
If things are not going well in your home with discipline, here are a few quick tips:
1. Where are you emotionally and spiritually? It all begins with you. Children need to see you modeling how they should be behaving and what values you hold dear. What comes when as your children grow? When can they go to a friend’s house without you, when can they walk somewhere alone, when can they ride their bike to the corner store, when can they have their first sleepover? Befriend some mothers with older children and see what issues are coming up for older ages; this helps you plan because you will be there one day as well!
How do you show reverence, how do you show gratitude?
Where is the rhythm of your home? Where are your moments of laughter, joy, fun, wonder? What are you doing for demonstrating real work, what is your child doing for real work, what are you doing for sleep, rest, warming foods and nourishment for the soul through singing and verses and stories? What are you doing to get energy out/outside time? These things help children of all ages!
How do you speak kindly in your home? How do you use your words to help each other?
Are you communicating to your small children that the world is a good place? That people are helpful and kind? How are you showing your older grades-aged children beauty?
What is your physical health like? It can be hard to be emotionally and spiritually stable and growing if your physical body needs your attention. Sometimes illness, bed rest, an accident can all be a blessing and force us to grow in ways we otherwise would not have, but I am generally speaking here of mothers who run around in their day to day mothering without a thought of water, healthy food or exercise for their own bodies.
2. Are you trying to do this ALL ALONE? Many mothers are, for a variety of reasons. Some just will not let their husbands do anything; some are single mothers; some are alone in their marriages. I have written quite a lot about marriage and even some posts on being alone in marriage, you can refer to those for some encouragement.
You cannot do this all alone; it takes a community of loving family members and friends to help raise a child. By the time your child is five, this community is increasingly important and by the time your child enters the grades even more so.
Where do you fit into the equation of the family’s needs?
3. Are you connected to your child? Connection is the basis of discipline. You do not need words to connect with the small under 7 child, and even the child of 7-9 does not need so many words. A nine year old does not have logical thinking and less words are truly better! Connect through being warm and loving, through a steadiness in the home, through physical touch and through play. Connect with your child by being emotionally stable yourself!
Meditate and pray about your child, look into your heart and see where they are and what they need. What would uplift them THE MOST at this very moment?
Sometimes growth comes in spurts with regression, especially for a younger child, and we can tailor our rhythm to these demanding stages. However, very often what an older (six and a half year old and up) needs as they struggle with emotional growth in childhood is to not be rescued and have that feeling of being uncomfortable taken away and alleviated. Older children, as they grow, need to learn to deal with all of their feelings, positive and negative, with peers and with people who do things differently.
4. What are your boundaries and do you understand what tools are available for each age to help you stick to those boundaries?
What do you do when your child will not adhere to the boundary? Sometimes a time-in together or just a little bit of space together outside in the backyard can change the energy just enough – but you still have to go back to the boundary.
Is what you are asking REASONABLE for the age of the child? And remember, we don’t ASK small children to do things – we do it together. Exhausting, but alleviates so many problems.
Parent your child for the age that they are – do not treat your ten year old like a three year old and do not treat your three year old like a ten year old!
Look for the next few posts to be from our book study.