As a young mom with my first child I read this passage of scripture.
Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
After reading this verse I pulled out my dictionary. Wanting to see exactly how the word, "train" was defined. In the context of this passage here is how the word is defined.
"teach (a person or animal) a particular skill or type of behavior through practice and instruction over a period of time".
At the same time in my life as I was parenting through the toddler years, I was also running my own store. I was in the habit on both the parenting front and employer front to offer, "Teaching Moments". When in reality sometimes you want to dismiss or fire. Yet in either case there is no learning.
My parenting style has been more about teaching moments. Moments that last a moment and have to be retaught over and over with toddlers. Fortunately with employees those teaching moments were sinking in faster than that of toddlers.
Here are three ideas to help your child through areas of discipline that will teach.
1. Before you discipline ask questions?
Give your toddler a chance to express his or herself. Even with their one-two words you can get all kinds of information. Find out what was behind the act. Was it direct ill-intent? Or was it a child who was curious? Were they acting in an age appropriate way for the situation? Were they provoked? Are they having an internal struggle and not able to express it? Be calm, sweet and kind with a pleasant face. Basically I am saying to hold your voice tone and angry face. Kids learn at a very young age to mask their emotions and feelings because of a loud angry parent. They also learn to lie and tell you exactly what they know you want to hear to avoid angry voice and face.
2. Asses how you can teach your child from this moment.
Over the years I have watched parents yank their kids from the floor and either spank or throw their kid into a time out. Kid is crying and parent is angry. No one really learns anything from this experience. And we slowly push our kids away from trusting us, the parents. How can you teach your child? By example. Showing them a different way. Walking them through the correct way to act. Having them sit in a timeout, after teaching them to think about it. Role playing the correct way to act or behave. Practice with them, be that example of behaviors you expect from your children. And then start all over again.
3. Then it starts all over again.
Are you exasperated by all the time it takes to get down on your child's level and teach them over and over and over the same thing every day. We all have those memories of, "How many times do I have to tell you?" from our parents. And the answer is an easy one. "As many times as it takes." My kids are all different. Two of my kids made up for the other three kids. Two of my kids were 1000's of times day. It felt like a gazillion times a day. And I cried in my closet, and gnashed my teeth and I practiced number 1 & 2 in every hour of my waking moments with two of my kids. Thank God those two are twelve years apart. Then there were two that I could sit down with, calmly, with a soft spoken voice and teach them the correct behaviors and a very sweet teary eyed child would say, "okay mama". And those same two would be forgotten while they sat in a time out to think about things. Because they were so compliant they waited. And then the last child. Happy go lucky. He was another easy child, but he was always trying to push the line a little further. He knew better to cross it but with that blond hair, darling blue eyes and dimples he tried.
Friends it takes time. It takes being consistent, and it takes a sense of humor. And we can all vary in our discipline styles. I think these three ideas will be a terrific help for parents with any age child.