By Hally Franz –
Elmo is a favorite buddy of my good friend’s adorable two-year-old son. We had lunch recently, and she told me how much he enjoyed anything Elmo. Elmo is a classic. My son hung with Elmo, too; he had his own “Tickle Me, Elmo” doll.
This pal of mine is a young mother and assistant high school principal, and, as often happens, our conversation that day turned to parenting, education and discipline.
Her primary discipline challenges come daily at work rather than with her young son, but soon she’ll be facing them at home too. I know there are children in the world who snap into perfect behavior with a stern look or simple sentence of disappointment. They don’t live at my house.
So, whether out of careful contemplation or desperation, we have sampled a number of forms of discipline. I talk through these issues with our children, while my husband, with his military background, keeps things short and simple. We’ve counted them down, taken away privileges and possessions, and spanked. Success with any form of discipline depends almost entirely on assurance that something bad will happen when children don’t comply with the parental request.
It’s important not to make a threat or consequence that you can’t actually keep, because it blows credibility. I have taken away school field trips when behavior leading up to the day was poor and donated favorite toys when they weren’t being taken care of. Sometimes the follow through part is heart-wrenching.
When I’ve had a rough time with one of my children, I reframe the situation something like this. If God only gives us what we can handle, He must have confidence in me, because he (or she) was a real pain today. It makes me feel better. On those days when my confidence falters, I am careful not to let my kids see it. When it comes to matters of discipline, they simply can’t see me sweat. Kids can be like sharks when they smell blood in the water, merciless.
Consistency, confidence and compassion combined with consideration of the child’s personality and offense, and, of course, love, are perhaps the most important tenants of successful discipline.
Did I mention we used time out… a lot! Ivan became so comfortable with time out that he often disciplined Elmo and other friends, likewise. Occasionally, Elmo Schmelmo got downright cranky and in no mood for tickling.
PRAYER: Father, thank You for blessing me with my beautiful children. With Your help, may I model good behavior and train them in godliness so that they may better serve You.
“Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).
Today’s devotion is by Hally Franz. Hally is a former high school guidance counselor, turned homemaker. Hally sees each day as a new exercise, where routines change and weights vary. Her goal is to maintain all-around fitness for service, while training her children to be competitive, compassionate and Christ-like in the world in which we live.