Monday, May 16, 2011

Toddlers and the Discipline Affirmation Conundrum

So I mentioned briefly in my previous post that this week's sermon was really insightful as a new parent.

Last week at church our pastor - Rusty Hayes - started a new series called Generations and kicked it off with the topic of mother's for Mother's Day. This week the sermon was on toddlers and discussed bringing them up and "training" the right. While it was called toddlers, he said it can apply to kids up to ages 8 and maybe even 10.

Anyways, he talked about what he called the Discipline Affirmation Conundrum and how as a parent you need to find the balance between the 2 for each of your children as each child is different.

If you give too much or only affirmation and not enough or no discipline and never say no to your child, your likely to end up with a kid who is a total spoiled brat and thinks the world revolves around them. However if you give your child too much discipline with little to no affirmation then you're like going to to have a child who's an overachiever when they're young, doing anything they can just to get any sort of praise from you, and then they're likely to rebel and go wild with their newfound freedom when they go off to college or move out on their own. So as a parent it's your responsibility to find that balance for your child. Some children are a bit out of control and need a little more discipline than others, other kids may have low self-esteem for whatever reason and need more affirmation.

So many parents today are more concerned about being their child's friend than being their parent and are afraid to tell their child "no" and/or discipline them, which looking in general at society and the teens we have today, clearly there's a problem. As a parent though it's your job to teach your child right from wrong, disciplining them when needed so that they understand that bad actions are wrong.

As far as disciplining goes, he pointed out that there's really 3 options or "ouch factors" that work with toddlers, the 1st being spankings and pointed out that the Bible even mentions using "the rod."

So many parents today think of spankings as child abuse or don't do it, however, a study from very liberal college UC-Berkeley showed that spankings in moderation (ie: when necessary) actually are effective, as they did a study that lasted 10 years and looked at several kids who were disciplined differently - the ones that did get spankings from time to time ended up growing up best (for lack of better terms). Now our pastor pointed out, you never want to spank your child while you're in a rage as your likely to lose control and take things too far, and really it should be more of a last resort and only done when the situation warrants it - if you're spanking a child multiple times a day then something is clearly wrong, either your child isn't getting it or you're missing something.

Another "ouch factor" is the lose of privileges, such as putting your child in timeout, and by timeout we mean somewhere away from toys and distractions where the child can have a few minutes to sit and reflect on what they did wrong. Don't send them to their room or they'll just see timeout as a time to get away and go play and not learn anything. In my parents house, the timeout spot was on the bottom landing of the stairs that go upstairs. My sister was quite familiar with that spot, as they would have her sit there for several minutes at a time (my mom would set the timer on the stove so my sister would know when she could get up off the landing) until she cooled down and was ready to behave. As the kid gets older this would be more in the terms of grounding them or "no TV or video games for x-amount of time."

The third "ouch factor" is to make amends. The example our pastor used was say Billy throws his little sister's favorite dolly out in the trash, just for fun. Well then Billy would have to give one of his favorite toys to his little sister to make amends. If they break a sibling's or a friend's toy on purpose and get an allowance, have them save up to replace it. Teach them that if they wrong someone it is their responsibility to make it right.

As far as affirmation goes, he reminded us of 4 points.

Be sure to have fun with your kids - laughter is the closest a person can get to each other. Be silly and have fun, do fun things together. Have a weekly family night where you all watch a movie or play a game together (we used to do pizza and board games when I was little).

Make conversation with them, talk through stories. Say you know your kid got teased at school but doesn't want to talk about it. Have them help you come up with a story where you act out what happened and get them to discuss it. For example, use their stuffed animals and incorprate them into the story - let them come up with the names in the story, point out that one of them (say the bunny stuffed animal) got teased, ask your child how they think bunny feels. Try to get them to talk about how they're feeling.

"Date" your child - make time for some one on one with just them. Dad's take your daughters out one on one for something as simple as McDonald's for a meal, same goes for moms.

And of course be sure to make your child feel blessed - make them feel good about themselves, show praise and affirmation when they do good things.

Overall, I thought it was a really good and insightful sermon, especially being a new parent who's soon going to be dealing with a toddler before you know it! I look forward to the rest of the series.

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