When I talk to other moms or parents, they generally tell me one of two things. One, they are exhausted and don’t know how to “get it all done” or two, they have just given up. Both of these statements sadden me greatly. Not because I have it all together, because trust me…I don’t. But because their faces, voices and actions tell me they are hopeless and lost.
I have been there. There was a time in my life when I thought I wouldn’t survive. When my husband worked the overnight shift and was barely awake with us 2 hours a day. The kids missed him. I missed him. And on his days off, we tried hard to make things “normal,” but they just weren’t. Nothing about our life was normal.
The biggest struggle I had as a tired and weary mom, was discipline.
At one point I had three kids in diapers and all under the age of 3. I didn’t sleep more than 4 hours a night most of the time and I was just flat worn out. I was beyond exhausted.
Life seemed to be spinning out of control.
And my nerves were on edge most of the time.
Just as I would sit down to “relax” for a few seconds, one of the children would get in to something and need disciplining.
They tested me at bedtime by coming out of their rooms multiple times and no matter what I said or did, it never got better.
They knew my buttons and pressed every. single. one of them.
And then, I would snap.
My temper would get the better of me – whether out of pure exhaustion or frustration, I wasn’t always sure.
I was spanked as a child, when needed, so that’s what I resorted to with my own children. Only there were times I thought I might actually hurt them if my anger didn’t get under control.
I was terrified. Lost. Alone.
Who could I talk to that wouldn’t judge me?
It was a lonely and vicious cycle.
I was trapped in sin.
Sin that was my own doing.
Sin that I let control my thoughts and actions.
But, I knew it had to stop.
It has taken me years to try to control my anger and outbursts and I’ll be honest, I still fail most of the time. But, those times are becoming fewer and farther between.
One thing I realized was when I was more consistent with enforcing the house rules, my children obeyed more. They knew the rules, so they knew the consequences when they disobeyed. Part of being consistent is making sure the children know the rules, whether they are posted somewhere or talked about often. It is unfair to discipline a child for something they did, but weren’t aware was against the rules. That’s when you need to sit and talk.
The other thing I realized was that spankings don’t work with all my children. Some of them only need the threat of a spanking to change their attitude, while others did require a spank to the bottom.
Now I know this might be controversial for some and I’m not advocating one way of disciplining your children over another. However, if something isn’t working, you need to take it to the Lord in prayer and ask how to deal with that child. God created them, in His image, so He knows how best to deal with them – just ask!
While I can’t give you a list of rules that need to be applied in your home, I can tell you some of ours and give you some tips on discipline that I have learned over the years.
4 Rules of Discipline in Our Home
- Make sure the rules are known by everyone – While our rules are not posted anywhere, we do go over them with our children frequently. No hitting, kicking, screaming, fighting, name calling, arguing or just plain being mean. These seem to be our biggest struggles, but we do still see disobedience in the form of slowness, to which we say, “a slow obey is a no obey.” Whatever your family rules are, make sure they are clearly communicated and review them often.
- Be consistent – This is where I struggle. Working from home has its pluses and minuses. I do not like being interrupted when I am on a role writing a post or reading through something for work. But, of course, this is usually when most of the arguments take place, which means I have to check my own attitude before I discipline. However, it is imperative that I discipline each and every time, even if that means I am interrupted 45 times a day. Consistency shows them that you are serious about the rules and enforcing them.
- Do not discipline in anger – This is probably the toughest for me. Since I don’t like being interrupted, I often react in anger. I will yell to get their attention rather than getting up and taking care of the issue the first time. Do not do this! Not only is it a sin, it will often turn your kids away from you. They will resent you, rather than see your true meaning through the discipline, love.
- Discipline isn’t the same for everyone – Not all of your kids will respond to the same method of discipline. I have one child that responds negatively to anything physical. He lashes out even more and then we have a cycle on our hands. Instead, we try to sit him down and talk with him calmly, however, when that doesn’t work he is sent to a “time out” space to calm down on his own. After that time, we can usually have a conversation about his actions and why he was disciplined.
Ultimately, the decision of how to discipline your children is up to you and your spouse. If you see the current method not working, pray about another way. God entrusted these children to you to love and nurture, so He will not abandon you – but you have to ask!
Another step to take is to create family or house rules. If you’re interested in making your own family or house rules, I have created some printables to help. I have included our family and house rules in several colors, but you can also use a blank sheet of paper to make your own!
If this is the first time you’ve done this with your kids, get them involved. Call a family meeting and create the list of rules together. Have the non-negotiable rules already on the page, but allow the kids to help brainstorm more rules. Bringing them in to the conversation may help them take ownership of the rules and be more inclined to keep them.
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