Sometimes parenting young children can be exhausting, especially for new parents. If only I knew then what I know now! I believe most parents “guinea-pig” the first one and a half children and learn by trial and error as they go along! They establish a game plan for all the ones to follow after that! Then…BOOM! The next child born has a temperament totally different than that of the former.What to do now!! LOL! New parents have a tendency to panic. However, HAVE NO FEAR!! God would not bless you with that tender little being and not give you the wisdom to take care of it. He’s not just sitting up there deriving pleasure from your torment and frustration. Children are supposed to be a blessing in the home! Lighten up and enjoy the journey. There are many priceless memories to be made! When your child becomes mobile and begins to discover all the neat things in your home, that is when you begin to re-direct them in the way you need for them to go. As they begin to test the durability of everything in their reach, you begin to make preferences on the things that are safe for them to play with. At this point, many things are not safe for them! You will then begin to introduce the word “no” in relation to all of the “no touches” in their environment. They are not going to understand the “why not” at this point. They do not even have the verbal skills to ask why not. They lack the maturity and/or discernment needed to make an educated decision. You DO have all that is needed AND you are the adult so when you say “no”, you need to stick to your decision as many times as they try it again. Sometimes it will test your patience or pluck your last nerve, but remember, you are building a foundation that will last a lifetime!
Once the child becomes old enough to express their desires and will verbally, that is the parents cue to begin to establish general rules, limits and boundaries. Now comes the most important rule in parenting-Beforehand, parents need to discuss their beliefs and goals in regards to discipline and make a sober commitment to each other to be in agreement and of one accord on all decisions. Parents that try to discipline with different standards send mixed signals to their children. This keeps them confused and frustrated and creates strife in the home. Children learn quickly that they can go to the other parent to get a more favorable answer if they were not satisfied with the first one! “No” really needs to mean “no” and “yes” needs to be honored no matter how inconvenient! Children of all ages need to have clear, defined limits, boundaries and rules. This promotes peace, order and security for the child. They learn to know what is expected of them and upon obeying, they are secure in knowing the outcome. We also need to foster age-appropriate independence in our children. If you give a whole group of children unstructured time to play, almost immediately, they will begin to establish a “pecking order”. It will soon become evident who the “leaders” and “followers” are! They will begin staking claims on who gets to be the policeman, teacher, fireman, parent, etc. Most all of them want to be in a position of authority over someone else! It’s human nature! Watch how quickly small children learn how to use the words “yes” and “no” on you or someone else! They’re smart!! So…when raising young children, you can pray for creative ways to put things on their level of understanding. Discipline is not just giving consequences when bad choices are made. It is giving instruction and training them in the way they should go. They need to hear and learn why you said no. Is it a matter of timing, convenience or safety? You are training them to think for themselves. You are fostering self-discipline. God gave us all the right of free will or choice. We learn to exercise it and live with our decision. It may begat a blessing or induce a consequence! This eventually teaches them to discern people and circumstances for themselves and sharpens their power of reasoning. Doctors and child psychologists have learned that it is VITAL to learning AND that it is HEALTHY for children to experience some degree of failure. The brain actually re-wires itself by tending to our mistakes and bad choices. Brain scans prove this!! This will promote good life-coping skills as they learn to handle disappointments, frustrations, and various emotions that come with failure. We can be there to console, comfort and advise them upon experiencing failure OR be readily available to celebrate their victory in mastering something! The key is being there! If you are not present, you do not have “airtime” for teaching and redirecting. Getting angry, being short tempered, brushing them off or sending them to their room does not solve anything except giving you time to cool down and/or decide to sacrifice what you are doing at that moment to address the situation. That program on tv, that telephone conversation, or computer time can be sacrificed for the greater good.
I have discovered an explanation that has proven to be successful in teaching young children the importance of obeying. It has become a foundation to be built upon year after year, as they grow and mature. This biblical principle can be put on their level in this manner:
“God gave this,(pointing to myself), heart to me and He expects me to be the boss over my heart. He gave that, (pointing to them), heart to you and He expects you to be the boss over your heart. You are not the boss over someone else’s heart and they are not the boss over yours. We all need to be the “boss” over our own hearts. Mom and dad are here to help you make good choices! We are here to help you do things that you do not know how to do because we love you sooo much! As long as you are making good choices and being the “boss” over your heart, you won’t need our help! When you are having trouble being the boss over your heart, we are going to help you because we love you sooo much! More importantly, God loves you! We want Him to be happy about all of us, especially you! We want Him to bless your socks off”. This empowers your child with a sense of worth AND promotes the picture of them being celebrated when successful. At this point in the conversation, your child is beside themself, giggling with laughter and is anticipating being pleasing to you! It has not become a battle of my will -vs-your will. AND, who doesn’t like to feel celebrated! Even as adults, we like to feel celebrated in front of our peers and have our efforts or accomplishments acknowledged. How much more-so does that place your child on cloud nine and set them up for success! Your loving, nurturing and optimistic approach appeals to their human nature! They will strive to have your stamp of approval and be celebrated by you! They will yearn to be pleasing in your sight. As they mature, you can teach them of the importance of being pleasing in God’s sight and how the bible teaches that He is omnipresent and is looking for opportunities to bless our socks off! God takes pleasure in blessing us! The way in which we communicate with our children should mirror the manner in which the Lord deals with us! He is loving, nurturing, patient and gracious. We, as parents, should model all of these same attributes to our children. Then when they reach that age of accountability that the bible talks about, they have a solid foundation and tenderness of heart to receive instruction directly from the Lord. By then, they will have established standards for themselves that will keep them from being influenced by false doctrines and pitfalls that others succumb to. They will have learned to follow the path of peace and will strive for the spirit of excellence in all that they do! Because of their obedience to heed the commandments of the Lord and their willingness to be led of His Spirit, they will have learned to step out in faith expecting to experience blessings and victories in every area of their life!