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! 

Gratitude in Everything

Have you ever had a day when it seems like the world is against you? Or worse, like the Lord is out to test your endurance?  Who hasn’t, right?  Today is one of those days for me. I went to bed late because I have a love of waking up to a relatively  clean house, and got  up early…..  again. So to say the least I woke up grumpy. I promised myself a nap, a luxury I didn’t let myself get yesterday.  I did school faithfully with the kids, and slowly we got ready for a quiet time. So slowly.  My baby (22 months) was obviously not as ready for a nap as I was, so I decided to take her on a short drive to lull her to sleep. It worked! I carefully carried her in the house and laid her on my bed. Then I changed a batch of laundry out so it would wash while I slept. As I came back in my room baby started coughing.  She doesn’t have a cough, so I thought it would pass, but evidently the cold air outside had triggered her. She coughed until she threw up…… all over my pillows. And of course that woke her up.  To make absolutely sure that she was awake for good, my daughter came in at that moment to ask me something.  And then Baby Girl got off my bed leaving my with a mess to clean up and no hope of a nap.

As I cleaned, I felt rather sorry for myself, and very out of control of being able to  take care of myself and be happy.  Suddenly I was reminded of a lesson I ran into a few days ago that I thought I would pass on. Gratitude in everything, even and especially hard things.  So I began to feel hopeful again.  I decided if I couldn’t have a nap, I wanted to talk to someone. I decided to call my Grandma, someone I cherish in my life.  I did and it turned out to be a blessing for her too. It cheered me up, as well as her.  None of which would have been accomplished if  I had continued to feel sorry for myself.

I hope I can remember to apply this lesson more times, as my children will see it and learn gratitude from my actions.  Yes I know I am basically wishing for more days that don’t go right. But really, does any day go “right” when you have kids?