Disciplining for the Long Term

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It never fails, whichever parent spends the most time with the kids ultimately ends up being the primary disciplinarian. Not on purpose, but simply because they’re around the most so statistically they’ll be the one there the most to correct.

You know what? It sucks.

There is nothing I loathe more than disciplining my children.

We are primarily non-punitive. We don’t do time-outs or other arbitrary punishments. I do send them to their rooms to read some books or play quietly when they’re clearly overwhelmed with too much togetherness and just cannot summon it within themselves to treat one another lovingly and kindly; but they’re just having quiet time playing. They’re not sitting in a corner “thinking about what they’ve done” (because what kid is actually contemplating their “misbehavior” in time-out?).

We are all about talking and working together over here. I know a lot of people roll their eyes at that. Once upon a time I said, “Gentle hands” and “Hands are for hugging not hitting” so many times I wanted to roll my eyes too. But somehow we all got through that phase in tact and they pretty much know not to hit now; time-outs, being yelled at, and spankings not needed.

But still. B’s always had a temper, and H is so dramatic and sassy. It’s exhausting.

I remind myself daily what my goals are for my children long term, not necessarily today. And just focus on those.

Most of the time it seems like they’re utter angels for J, and absolute hellions for me. But when I break it down, I probably get more sweet angelic moments than he does; I just also get those crazy terrible ones too.

I want so badly for our days to be all sunshine and roses that I have to bite my lip from screaming, “I want to be freaking Miss Honey but you’re all a bunch of baby Trunchbulls making this impossible!” (We are obviously reading Matilda right now.)

On those more stressful, gray-hair-inducing days, I pour a glass of wine and remind myself that they are such precious little gifts. That they’re disciplining me (and by discipline, I mean teaching, always, always, always), just as much as I am them. Which is why it is so very important that I show them immense grace and patience, even when I have to search deep down into my core and muster up the very last slivers I have left in me, because it will always be worth. The pay out will far exceed what I must put forth right now.

But some days it is so challenging. That terrible little monster named Jealousy pokes her head up when I find it seeming like all the time J has with them is fun, and I’m doing all the hard work.

Then I am reminded that it’s not true when I watch him in the throes of it. Baby on his hip, H demanding he help her, B crying for his attention, and him just standing there, needing to get a million other things done. I’m not doing it all alone. Some days are longer than others, but he’s in this just as thick as I am.

It’s not all roses and sunshine. Not even remotely close. But it is all beautiful in its own crazy, chaotic, every-challenging way.

So although I despise the least fun parts of discipline, I just keep reminding myself that I’m helping to model and teach them to be kind and loving little people, and sometimes that means I have to correct and reprimand and have them angry at me, and I have to do it all with patience and gentleness, because we are disciplining for long term results, not punishing for in-the-moment mishaps.

*** The winner of our giveaway for Strengths Based Parenting is Shelley! Thank you all who participated!***

 

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