My Story: The Meaning of Discipline

When I first started parenting, I felt  was in uncharted waters. Not only had I never had my own kids before, I had definite ideas of how I wanted to parent that were very different than what  saw a lot of around me. As I went throught those first few years, I swung like a pendulum, from permissive, to authoritative and overbearing. I could never feel secure about what I was doing and Though I could see my goal, my perfect picture, I couldn’t see the road to get there.

I loved parenting books and read several trying to find my guiding style. I first had the opportunity to look into love and logic. I took classes, and started implementing it with my 18 month old daughter.  I can say this, it definetly brought results! Ones I wasn’t sure I liked. I still wasn’t the mom I wanted to be. I Found myself spending too much time thinking of consequences, and then not wanting to follw through on those consequences because they felt unfair to me! I kept at it, thinking it was the only way to discipline without spanking. When my daughter was four years old she didn’t like me. She didn’t even acknowledge when I said her name. And she certainly wouldn’t do anything for me.  I realized it was time to throw out the idea of discipline and go to reaching her heart once more. I didn’t even ask her for anything, I just filled her poor, empty, dry, little cup. Within a month or two she started responding to me again, and even doing things I asked.

I am not saying Love and Logic is bad, I am saying for me, the way I was using it, was. I manipulated my little girl in the name of discipline until she was so hurt that she wouldn’t even listen to me.

I looked for something else. I admired my friend’s children’s behavior, and talked to her.  She spanked. I felt torn. I knew I didn’t want to spank, but I wanted kids that obeyed like hers did. I finally decided to give it a try. I read the books she handed me and dove in. It was wonderful!…… for the first few months. The kids obeyed, I hardly ever had to spank. It did help me feel a little more empowered as a mom, which I needed at the time. But I still didn’t like the mom I was. And it only got worse.  I realized I couldn’t spank anymore when I would feel calm at the beginning of the spanking only to lose control during it, and hate myself after.

So I threw all ideas of discipline out. I prayed, which I should’ve done more of before. I decided that the most important thing  was to keep my Heavenly Father’s Spirit with me. So anything that didn’t produce His fruits (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperence) wasn’t ok anymore.  I didn’t let myself get caught into anymore books to read but I prayed to find the path I still knew was hiding somewhere. I was determined to find it even if I had to pave it.

I began to study the meaning of discipline. I found that it came from the latin word disciplus  which meant ” to teach”.  A disciple was a willing convert. How I wanted my children to become willing followers! But I needed to take the time to convert them. And how do I do that effectively?

Next I thought about this “rod” spoken of in Proverbs. I felt there was more to it than just a stick. I felt it was reasonable to asssume it was talking about a shepherds rod, and imagined a shepherd with his sheep. Now, a shepherd does not hit the sheep with his rod, or they learn to run away from him. (Could that apply to children as well?)  They only use their rod to guide the sheep. I was liking this train of thought,and wondered what else the shepherd uses the rod for. I imagined a shepherd walking up a steep mountain, using his rod for stability and strength.

“So the shepherd also uses the rod for himself!” I thought. Thats when I realized the rod was talking about the Word of God. It felt like an major epiphany, and I was excited. If I took the true meaning of discipline and put it next to this I got “Discipline is to teach the Word of God.” What a statement! It completely changed how I looked at discipline. It is not about making a child suffer so they “won’t do it again.” It lined up perfectly with everything I had learned.

About the same time I started homeschooling. I felt it was not for the education, but that it was very important to keep my kids close to me. When I heard the term “attatchment parenting”, I decided that was worth looking into, as it was what I was after, right? I prayed about what book to buy to learn from and decided on Attached at the Heart Publisher: iUniverse Star. I related to every principle in this book and wanted to know more. It mentioned Positive Discipline as a way to discipline the children in a way to preserve that connection, and it gave some principles as guidelines. I needed more, I knew. So I prayed to find more material on it. Within the next two weeks sometime I went to a booksale of discarded books. There on the table was the a book titled Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills. It was the best fifty cents I ever spent. This gave me a starting place. It put into wordsw every goal I had made for myself and it gave me a pathway to get there. I suddenly felt I really could be the mother I wanted to be! It wasn’t just a vain hope. I kept looking for supporting information and came across If I Have to Tell You One More Time...: The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids To Listen Without Nagging, Remindi ng, or Yelling. This held a plan on how to apply the information without being overwhelmed. It helped so much in making a huge change in how I responded to situations and in the atmosphere in our home. I was finally training myself to be the mom I saw in myself! I am far from perfect, and so are my kids, but I have so many more tools now. And just as with physical work, and the tools that make it easier, I feel these tools have encouraged me and made my job more enjoyable. I hope you too can find more tools to help in your Daily Life!!

Toddler Times!

Do you have a toddler? Then you know what its like to watch your little angel baby turn into an independent, control loving, person full of their own ideas and ambitions, which I might add, seldom line up with your own.  It can be a daunting, frustrating, and even hurtful experience. The intimate and beautiful bond you have shared becomes broken and lost, and it feels like they are just trying to push your buttons. The good new is they are not. They are simply trying to get their needs met in the best way they know how.

All behavior  is communication. When children act out they are trying to tell us something. They may be trying to say they are anxious, or scared. Or perhaps they need teaching or a boundary to feel secure. And of course we all know they need love. The only thing is they ask for it in the most unloving ways!

I do not claim to be a parenting expert, but I have have a passion to share what I have learned through books (lots of them!) and through my eight kids experience, even though I am still learning. So my goal here tonight, is to share my favorite responses to common toddler misbehaviors.  If you have questions, or if I left out the behavior you are struggling with please comment and let me know!

Obedience: Or rather disobedience, right? Toddlers love power. They love to test how much power they have, and how much you have.  So they run from you instead of come when you say. Or just say “No!”. They are wanting to see how you will help them obey. When they see us stand red-faced, angry, and helpless they feel powerful, maybe too powerful. They know they are misbehaving. They essentially don’t feel good about themselves and need our help to feel better. They know we are mad and even if they are laughing, they are scared. They need us to stay calm, cool, and collected while we handle them.

My children will usually cry even if I gently pick them up and bring them back to the place I was when I called them, but that is okay. I usually gently talk to them and say they need to come when mom calls. I can even say I am scared when they don’t come, or take the opportunity to teach that Heavenly Father wants them to learn to be obedient.  Then I take time to train the response I want. After they are done crying, and they are ready to try again I set them up for success by telling them they need to go back to where they were and come this time when I call their name. So they return and I call “Alyssa, come!” This short command is easy to hear and follow. If they come I am overjoyed and openly show them they were successful. A quick celebration with lots of hugs and “high fives” and then I ask then to run back and do it again. We repeat five or seven times.

If they do not come they may need a hand to hold while they walk to where you called them again. And another try. If they obviously know what you want  it can be a signal that they need something besides knowledge. They need motivation. The only motivation that really lasts is attached relationships.  So as soon as possible find five minutes to hold them and read a book. Or play a quick little tug of war over a blanket or pillow. Then as you settle back down, or close the book, ask if they are ready to try coming again. Soon they will come every time on the first call. I can still call my ten year old’s and they come right away.

Attention: It is so frustrating to be ignored. At first I didn’t know how to respond when my child ignored me. Now it is still frustrating, but I go to them, place my hand on them, and say “I need you to look at me when I call your name. Let’s try that again. Alyssa! Oh good job you looked at me. Look over there. Alyssa! Great you remembered!” We repeat in a fun way, looking at different areas about ten times.

Tantrums: These are the times when it can be hard to keep calm while our child melts down, -sometimes even in public!- And we feel a range of emotions ourselves including helplessness.  We cannot make that child stop crying. The thing is that their little brains are overwhelmed with feelings of loss and disapointment.  If we are honest with ourselves we have these moments too (sometimes right as our child is disolving into sobs!) and it takes all our efforts to hold ourselves together too. Realizing this in the moment can be helpful, as thinking helps get our brains in a more relaxed state, instead of in a reactionary one. Think, what do you wish someone would say or do when you feel this way? I would probably like to hear something like “Its okay. I love you. I know you are dissapointed. I know you wanted to stay and play more.  Its so hard to leave when we need to. Do you want to say goodbye? Don’t worry, I will help you out to the car.” And then either carry them or lead them out, while they tell you (through sobbing) exactly how they feel.

Cleaning up after themselves: It is important that Toddlers learn to pick up the toys they use, and the clothes they take off. It helps them feel capable. And when kids feel capable, they behave better. (Just like when we parents feel capable and successful as parents, we find it easier to behave well too!)  Teaching this skill can be as easy as showing them where their dirty clothes go. But with some kids, it takes more practice. More success. So do it over and over until they feel succesful at it!

Most other behaviors can be taught with the same idea of setting them up for success and repeating.  I base my ideas off the methods put forth by Jane Nelson.

If you want more ideas here is two of her books targeting toddlers and preschoolers. Good luck with your toddlers in your daily life!

Parent book list!

Hey there!

Today I am going to give a review on the best parenting books I have read. Hopefully it willl give you something to go off and make your own reading list for the summer! (Quick tip: if you want your kids to read through the summer, and read for enjoyment, model it! Read quietly to your self and let them see!)

Note: Please use the links I provide as they will help support the Daily Life Mom!

:This is a great study into attachment parenting principles.  This was the first book I bought and read on this subject. It is very good. It is filled with scientific research as well as real life examples. It is well thought out and well written. It goes over the eight principles for raising children in an attached manner, and why those principles are so important.  This book also gave me other titles to begin my study on positive discipline and attachment parenting.

  This was the second awesome book I read on this subject. See, in Attached at the Heart: Eight Proven Parenting Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children; they mentioned positive disipline as number seven of the attachement principles.  They gave an outline of what positive discipline is, but i needed examples.  I needed instructions! Only a couple weeks later I found this book at a book sale. It was the answer to my prayers!  I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it gave me everything I needed to start implementing it into our lives.  My favorite quote from this book is “Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, we must first make them feel worse?”

This book helped me organize my thoughts on how to use and implement positive discipline.  Amy McCreedy gives a good step-by-step way of changing how you parent.  After all we all change only a step at a time! I really loved how in her steps “Logical consequences” was number 11!  There is so much you can do instead of an imposed consequence.  She also has a parenting style quiz to help you pin point where your strengths and weaknesses are.  It is full of strategies and examples as well as explanations of the principles.

This book I read only recently.  But I really enjoyed it! It is a great one to read with our partner because she gives a list of questions at the end of every chapter to discuss and get to know each other better as well as understand why we parent the way we do.  It isn’t a book of strategies, more of how to change your parenting paradigm.  It has a lot of personal growth challenges in it.  It was well worth the reading!  Especially if you are having a hard time knowing where to start changing your thinking.  if you find yourself constantly falling into the same holes, this book can help you understand why, and how to avoid them better.  This is a great resource!!

I hope you have found a gem or two on this list!  Good luck on finding time to read in your Daily Life! 

Does Connection Matter?

Does Connection matter in parenting? I mean, its too much to expect parents to be connected all the time to their children, right? Parents are busy, plus they know whats best for their children. And you can get kids to behave without having a connection with them. So why am I always emphasising conection? Well, I am not an professional, but I have seen the benefits of it in my children and my relationship with them.And since you may be a science geek, I will try to sum up the scientific reason connection is vitaly important. It is based off the many books I have read on the brain and its development.

You may have heard the terms upstairs brain and downstairs brain. Basically, the upstairs brain is where the self-control center is. Where you make decisions, and do your thinking and learning. The downstairs brain, sometimes refered to as the “reptillian brain”, is where you go when you experience big emotions such as anger, fear, excitement, ect. It holds your ability to fight, or run in danger but it also is responsible for losing yor self-control when you experience stress. Now since the upstairs brain is where you learn, if you try to teach a lesson to a child who is frightened, or angry, its not going to sink in very well. Children can be frightened very easily. After all we, the parents, are several times bigger and stronger than them. They fully realize that should we have a mind to do so, we could hurt them very badly. But they also fear neglect, being forgotten, or not important. They avoid emotional pain same as we do. So if we base our acceptance off their good behavior, they have an underlying fear that if they lose control, or have a bad day, that their need for acceptance will go unmet. And that fear makes it hard to learn anything. The brain learns best if it is relaxed, and can just focus on the things at hand, not worry about whether or not they will be loved. So we help our children succeed by giving them an unconditional acceptance. (note:this is not saying we accept thir behavior at any time! Only the child).

I have heard a couple stories that illustrate this principle. There were two sisters. One got married, had a baby and of course was determined to do everything right. She made sure that baby had lots of tummy time so she could get her brain patterning, even though most of this “tummy time” the baby just cried. This baby had trouble learning to crawl, and crawled late. So the other sister gets married now, has a baby, and is determined not to let this baby cry. So even in the middle of tummy time she would pick the baby up if the baby was done and starting to fuss. She was told that her baby would have trouble learning to crawl, that she wouldnt get the brain patterning she needed. Well that baby learned to crawl early, and had no cordination problems at all. She simply felt secure enough that her needs would be met so her brain could relax and do the patterning it needed.

Next there was a mother who wanted connection with her children. She would talk about how she wanted to greet them with a warm greeting but because the child had done something childish that was dangerous as well, she felt the need to cuss them out so they wouldn’t do it again. She wanted her children to follow her beliefs and traditions, as we all hope for our children. So she spent lots of time yelling at them so they would hear what she said and be obedient. Well I hear her kids are grown now. And they have made decisions that she didnt want them to.

So does connection really matter? You judge for yourself. Simply stated “No one cares how much you know, unless they know how much you care”. Do our kids know and feel how much we care? If they aren’t listening, or acting out, maybe we need to check do we have connection in our daily life?

Why do kids test us?

At some point pretty much every parent wonders why kids test us and “push
our buttons”. Why, when they know it brings out the worst in us? Have you ever noticed they test more when we are busy? Or why when sometimes we have made a concentrated effort to change how we respond to them, for example, trying not to yell, or trying to exercise patience, do they seem to purposely try to push us to our limit? So why when we are trying to be better don’t they try to be better too? Don’t they appreciate us trying? Or do they just like being yelled at? Do they like to see us so angry that we lose our self control and become a scary monster to them? Well maybe. I have watched kids push buttons and have felt my own have pushed mine. Based off my observations and some insight from my own childhood memories, I have come to a few conclusions. I wanted to share them here with you today.
First, kids don’t really like to see us angry. Their behavior is actually a cry for help. Often they act out when we are busy because they want to know if we care about them. They wonder if what we are working on is more important than they are. Therefore they “test” us to see if they matter to us in that busy moment. They are looking for security. Yes, it is terrible timing. We wish they could just “be good” until we are done. And truth is they can be! Just a patient answer and a little love can go a long way in those tense moments.
Now, please remember I am sharing this not to make you feel guilty in any way! I just wanted to share my insights to possibly help someone who may be at their wit’s end to understand their children and know they are not a bad parent.
Next, if children are used to us reacting in a certain way, they feel a little insecure if we start to be patient with them. Odd, isn’t it? But don’t stop trying! Try to understand that our old reactions always left them with a bad feeling, like maybe that they were bad kids. They have sort of figured out how to cope with that feeling by shutting off a part of themselves, at least from us. So when we start to be more patient, or thoughtful toward them, they wonder if they can trust us. Are we still that person who is going to make them feel bad? Or are we trustworthy now? So guess what? That’s right, they test us. They push us as far as they can to see if we will turn back into our old selves. If we do, we prove them right, that we are not worthy of their trust, and they continue to shut themselves off from us. And then we parents wonder why, as teenagers, they don’t want to open up to us. Odd, isn’t it? But if we can understand, be strong, try harder and hold on, we may win their trust to a whole new level. So keep on keeping on! Once we have proven ourselves to them, and prove to them that they are worth it, the misbehavior mostly corrects itself. It wont be a battle forever. I’m not saying that they wont ever misbehave again (but wouldn’t that be nice!). I’m only saying that if we win their trust, they will have more of a tendency to trust that we have their best interest in mind. Therefore they listen more, take instruction better and come to us with problems and for support.
So in all our living of daily life, let’s remember that misbehavior has reasons. Keep looking for the reason behind it! Good Luck!

One day with a “soft voice”

Proverbs 15:1 tells us that a “soft answer turneth away wrath.” It always made sense to me that if you answer softly you wont provoke your opposition to be more angry than they already are, but I never thought it might also be talking about your own wrath.

As I sat contemplating one day, about how to make the atmosphere in our home more peaceful, I thought about that verse.  I decided to try it, and see how much it would turn the “wrath” out. So for one day i made it my number one priority to use almost a whisper at all times.  No yelling through the house for my children to come, no sharp reprimand, no getting louder to be heard over the crying.  I would never have guessed what i learned in that one day.
The first thing I noticed was that the house was quieter altogether.  I could hear contentment I hadn’t heard before.  I heard more laughter, more happiness and joy than on a normal day.  Was it there, and I had never been quiet enough  to hear it before?

Next I noticed how I felt. I felt less stressed. I felt I had more energy for connecting and caring. In fact I felt more connected and full of compassion all the way around! When the kids had a problem I felt I had time to listen and care. When I needed  their attention, I approached them rather than call them, and put my hand on their shoulder or back before I whispered in their ear. As a result, they were very responsive and obedient.   When things did get loud, I kept my voice the same or even more quiet.  And, as if miracles would never cease, the loud got quiet so they could hear what I was saying!  I even had the toddlers stop crying so they could hear me!

I felt more happiness in that one day than a normal day. Was it there all along and I just never could hear it because I was too loud? Or was it just a “good day”? I might not ever know, but needless to say, using a quiet voice is definitely my goal now. I am far from perfect at it, and I don’t always experience such benefits as that day, but I believe its worth working for in my daily life!

What do you do with an “out of control” 5-year old?

Home school was going well. Everyone was studying around the table. The feeling was an atmosphere of peaceful chaos. I did my five-year-old’s guided lessons, and then set him to work in his workbook. Upon checking on him a moment later, I discovered he was scribbling all over his page. After a few attempts to correct him, I realized he was not ready to do his work, so I set him down from the table telling him that he could return when he was ready. His attitude quickly spiraled out of control, and he began pushing chairs and throwing things to the floor. I sent him outside to cool off telling him he could return when he was ready. BAD IDEA!!! I guess I didn’t learn my lesson the first time.

A moment later I heard thudding on our front porch so I went to check what it was. To my horror he had a kitten in his hand, and was beating it against the support beam of the porch.  I felt at a loss for words, or actions or anything.  When he saw me he dropped the poor kitten, who luckily wasn’t badly hurt, and glared at me, but I saw something else too: fear. He was scared too, and that knowledge helped me stay in control of myself.
“What are we going to do?”  I asked it out loud, but it was more to myself than to him. Honestly, I was fighting to keep the control of my “upstairs brain”, and pushing away thoughts like ” Time to spank,”  or ” How would you like me to bang you against that beam?”  I got down on his eye-level and said ” I feel so sad that you treated a tiny kitten that way.  I can see you are having a hard time controlling yourself right now, so I will hold you until you can control yourself better.”  I took his hand, led him back to the kitchen, and pulled him onto my lap while I told my daughter, who was next in line for guided lessons, that we would have to work the best we could still.  My son predictably screamed, cried and wriggled to get free, while I instructed her on what to do next.  At one point I had to cover his mouth so I could be heard, but it wasn’t long before he quieted down again to just a cry.  His brothers tried to reason with him, telling him to be still so he could get free, offering deals if he would quit and trying to get me to offer some too.  I finally got the message through to them to let him be, and he would go free as soon as he regains his self-control.   I told them that they were adding to the situation rather than helping. Soon after they stopped, he quieted down, slowly letting himself stop flailing, and even get interested in his sisters lesson.  I held him as long as I sat there. He no longer fought me, and I could tell when her lessons were over that he would be ok to go.  I hugged him and told him I loved him before I stood up and let him go.  He ran off, his emotional balance restored, and feeling connected. The rest of the day he acted almost better than usual. He didn’t return to his poor behavior at all.

I believe in connection before correction (when I can remember that is :). I believe my 5 yr olds out-of-control feelings were scaring him as much or more than they were me.  I believe that he needed someone stronger than him to help him regain his control.  The fact that he didn’t return to his poor behavior tells me that his need for connection fueled his misbehavior, and when that need was met he didn’t need to misbehave any longer. I’ve punished children for the same type of behavior before, only to have to fight them all day long. I’m grateful to have learned a few more tools and i hope that sharing this experience will help you in some way. After all, we all could use encouragement in Daily Life!

 

 

The Way to My Son’s Heart

I could tell he was mad. I suspected that it was at me. I felt his angry glares and backstabbing looks all morning. His anger leaked out into his behavior as abuse of my other children so I had to send him to his room, reassuring him I would follow later as I soon as I could.

His tall, lanky, ten-year-old body lay on his bed as I entered his room a few minutes later.  I watched him for a moment that seemed like an eternity. Ten years old. I was a little intimidated that he was already that old. Where has the time gone?  Did we have a solid enough foundation to last through the coming teenage years? His behavior had, of late, been very challenging for me.  And here we were yet again. What was I going to say?

I said a quick prayer in my heart and strove to remember the things I believe in as a parent.
“Connection  before correction,”  came to mind. He certainly needed connection. But how do I start? He was in no mood to accept a hug.

“Hey bud.” I started out, still not knowing what to do.

“What?” His reply was sullen, but he fought a smile. I pushed aside the fear that he was just manipulating me, and chose to believe that his apparent cry for help  was legitimate, and the smile just relief that it had been heard.

“What’s wrong? Did something happen? You are not usually sour and angry.”

“I don’t know.”  “Hmm. Now what?” I thought. I decided to keep walking toward him and keep talking.

“Did I do something to offend you?”

“Maybe, I forgot.”

By now I was close enough, and I spontaneously started to try to tickle him a bit. It quickly turned into a wrestle.  I laughed as he tried to hold my hands. I easily pulled free and wrapped my arms around him so I had him pinned to me, backwards. He fought against me, and even put his teeth on my arm as if to bite, but didn’t bite down.

I pretended it was kisses and I said “Oh, I love you, too!”

“NO YOU DON’T!” he yelled at me.

“Why don’t I?” I asked, feeling I had hit on something.

“Because you sent me out of the house last night with the other boys, and the fight wasn’t even my fault!”

The night before, I had had friends over, and was frustrated at the constant screams from the boys’ room. I had finally sent them all, in exasperation, out the door to go find their dad next door where he was hiding while I had friends. I hadn’t taken the time to listen to the pleas my oldest son had made to me, and it had taken a toll on our relationship.

“You’re right,” I said. “I didn’t listen. I’m sorry. What happened?” I listened as he told me the account of the happening, and then said “So you don’t feel like it was fair that I sent you out with the other boys?”

Of course, he said “No.” “So next time I will ask to see who needs to leave, instead of tell everyone to leave. Sound good?”

“Yeah.”  He sounded relieved. Then without any prompting he added “I’m sorry that I was mad at you. Will you forgive me?”

“Absolutely.  Will you forgive me for not listening to you last night?”

“Yeah.”

“Thanks bud.” I gave him a hug, as it was now acceptable. And we left the room friends, made better through the storm.

This was a small moment of success for me. I wanted to share it, hoping it will encourage you. Its all just Daily Life!