Most of you reading this know that I have four children ages 10, 8, 6, and 3. There are three boys and one girl, the girl falling in at second oldest. Yes, we are busy. No, I am not crazy. Well, most of the time I'm not!
I have had numerous opportunities to discipline and parent my children through the years. I have made mistakes. I have said things I shouldn't and acted in ways I know better. My approach to disciplining and parenting in general has evolved through the years. I have grown up. I have matured, especially in my relationship with our Lord. I have reached for the Bible and Christian authors to find insight into my sometimes, shall we say, not-so-pleasant children. I mean lets face it. Raising children can be scary, confusing, frustrating, mind-boggling, unpredictable, jaw dropping, and in some cases make you want to pull your hair out. But on the flip side, raising children is the most rewarding, inspiring, mind-blowing, courageous, joyous, and simply wonderful job I could ever have the priveledge of doing.
So how do my husband and I parent our four children? Are we strict or do we tend to be more lenient? Do we take the "I'm ok you're ok" mindset? Do we strive more to be our child's friend than their authoritative parent? I would have to say...none of the above. I wouldn't catagorize our parenting into any one type. And there is no way possible to categorize our children either. They each have a distinct personality and their range of emotion and skills vary a great deal. What works with Luke when it comes to disciplining will not work with Madison or Brady. All children, even my own, respond best when spoken to calmly and with respect. When I am upset and raising my voice, it usually only makes matters worse. I learned that the hard way. Luke needs to be disciplined one on one, and taking away privileges is what he responds best to. In most cases, a simple look from her mother makes Madison ask for forgiveness. But there are times when she needs to be alone and writing her thoughts and wrong behaviors in her journal helps her work through them. Micah is always on the go. Take away his bike, scooter, or punish him from playing with the neighborhood friends works for him. Then there is our three year old, Brady. He brakes the mold! Takes the cake! Shatters all previous parenting knowledge and helpful tips that we gained over the years! Dear Brady has been our challenge. He responds best when we get on his level, look him straight in the eye, and threaten his very life!! No no, just kidding! Getting on his level and looking him in the eye does actually work, saying simple phrases that he can understand, and staying consistent. This is true with all our children. Be consistent, make the rules and expectations very clear, don't always say "no", realize that some behavior should simply be ignored especially in younger children, act quickly on disrespectful behavior, stay calm(this is hardest for me), and get to know your children and learn what they respond to. I know it can be hard to switch gears when dealing with your children, believe me! But I find so much joy and in fact find it easier to manage all four children, and not to mention the household, finances, planning for dinner...yadi yadi yah....when I am in tune with my children. When I know which activities are going to be the most beneficial, keep them out of trouble, and perhaps give me a moment to fold some clothes.
I also find it helpful to keep our children busy and engaged in some activity. It keeps them out of trouble and keeps Mama's nerves on low gear. My 10 and 8 year old are getting more independent, which is nice. I think it is important that our children have playtime, alone time, reading time, art time, quiet time, etc. And most importantly, our children need to be able to be kids! To run, jump, skip, hop, blow bubbles, make a mud cake, handle creepy crawlies, twist, turn, and explore! Take a risk! Do the dare! Yes, kids are going to fall down and they are going to get hurt. But how else are they going to learn about the world around them, and even their own bodies! How their little bodies react and respond when their legs bend as they jump in the air and how awesome it feels when they squish their fingers in a bowl full of mud cake mix! Yum!
I bought a great book recently called Unplugged Play. It has some really great ideas for classic play, which as a society I believe we have drifted away from. And classic disciplining for that matter. Straight forward, to the point with no warning and a possible spanking if the behavior calls for it, kind of disciplining. Oops, was that out loud!
I love our children with all my heart and want them to grow up making good decisions, be confident in their abilities, be self-disciplined, trustworthy, compassionate, and above all love the Lord! And I want to be the best parent I possibly can and raise them just as He would. After all, they are His children!