How I Do It–The Basics

 

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“How do you do it?” When people see how many kids I have (5), and how close they are, (between 1 & 8 years old), a question I’m often asked is, “How do you do it?” “I don’t know, I bribe them,” I respond. But deep down, I am thankful they are well-behaved. I’m not bragging. No one’s perfect over here, and I apologize to my kids a lot. But if there’s something I’ve learned that can make your parenting experience easier- no delightful, here it is:

This is the very basic foundation of all my kids behavior. I teach them to obey when they’re young. I’m talking like one-year-old young. The one basic command that they learn before they can even put a spoon of cheerios in their mouth is, “Don’t touch.” That’s the main thing that 1-year-olds do wrong is they they touch stuff that they’re not supposed to.

And good news- teaching a one-year-old not to touch is easy! You can do it like 10 minutes. And if you consistently enforce your “don’t touch” rules at home, people will be flabbergasted how well behaved your kid is. However, if you wait till they’re 3, 4 or 5 years old to obey, it may take months to instill this principle in their hearts.

Whenever my toddlers go after the books on the shelf, or light sockets, or knives in the open dishwasher, I tell them “Don’t touch.” I have a rubber spatula that enforces my voice. If they touch after I’ve told them not to, I grab their hand and tell them, “Don’t touch this,” and spank their hand. They cry, I hug them and kiss them, tell them to say, “Yes, ma’am,” (no, they don’t actually say this yet, but it’s for future training) and let them give me a kiss back. Repeat this process as many times as it takes until they stop touching it. And when they finally stop touching it, do not forget to praise them! “Yay! You did a good job! Good boy!” And throw in some extra kisses.

Does a one-year-old understand? Absolutely! If you stick to it for 10 minutes or so, you will see your toddler pull his hand back when you say, “don’t touch.” Your kids are so intelligent! These are not dogs or horses learning tricks. These kids are human beings, made in the image of God, and they learn quickly! I have often times seen joy in their eyes after learning to obey. It’s almost as if they are proud of themselves for listening.

What do I do if they just keep touching no matter how many times I spank their hand? You are probably doing one of two things wrong: 1) You aren’t spanking their hand hard enough. Simply put, the pain you’re inflicting is not enough motivation to convince them to obey you. Increase the force, and they will cry. But don’t waste those tears. Pull them close, hug and kiss, them and reinforce your rule: “Don’t touch.” 2) You might have too much irritation in your heart. If you are angry and irritated as you are disciplining them, it’s better to just leave it alone. Take a break, and revisit it when you can control the emotions of your heart. Disciplining in anger is something we never want to do. Make sure your heart believes in them, is patient with them, and sticks around to follow up with the hugs and kisses. If you are barking, “Don’t touch!”, spanking their hand, then walking away, it will not work.

Isn’t it mean to spank them? No. What’s mean is never helping your kids develop self-control. Kids with no self-control are hard to be around. Also, kids are unreasonable. You may have noticed that your toddler gives no mind to your convincing argument why sticking a fork into the light socket is bad. But a quick sting will teach him the lesson in 5 seconds. Your kids will be safer and more likable as they grow in self-control.

This whole thing is so important, not just so you don’t have to follow your toddler around picking up the stuff they’ve pulled off the shelf, but because it teaches them respect. They will learn respect for authority and respect for things. A one-year-old who obeys will be a two-year-old who obeys, who will be a three-year-old who obeys, etc. It’s easy to teach this to a one-year old! Not so much for a five-year-old. So start as young as you can!

Ending note: If your kids are older, and you never started them out on these basics of obeying. Don’t worry. You may have to work harder to teach them to obey, and it will take longer, but it is possible. The principles are the same, if they don’t listen to your voice, there will be a consequence that “stings.” Be consistent, and don’t discipline in anger. And always go out of your way to praise them for doing something right.

How To Not Freak Out

20130829-113208.jpgOh, the guilt after losing our temper with our children. We may have said some harsh words, grabbed a little arm too tightly, muttered a threat between clenched teeth, or spanked in anger. Whatever you did to cause your mean-mommy-guilt, there’s hope through repentance and forgiveness. 

I really appreciate Michelle Duggar’s (mother of 19) advice on not losing it as a parent. Here’s a little video she did on how to not freak out on your kids. 

I always encourage parents never to hesitate to apologize to your kids if you’ve sinned against them. Nothing heals that relationship like a parent humbly asking their child for forgiveness.

 

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.     Colossians 3:8

The Message You Send

Boise Trip-HQ-11If [the father’s] verbal and nonverbal language is saying, “Get away from me,” “Don’t bother me,” “I prefer the companionship of adults,” “I don’t have time for you,” “I think you’re stupid,” “I don’t particularly like you,” “You’re a nuisance,” “I won’t consider your views or feelings,” he will alienate himself from his children and force them to search elsewhere for the comfort and support they need.

Josh McDowell, The Father Connection

Spanking Doesn’t Work With My Child

I appreciate Tedd Tripp’s perspective concerning children who don’t seem to respond to spanking. Here’s his wise and insightful advice for those who would say, “Spanking doesn’t work with my child.”

“This objection requires further examination of a parent’s specific practice. Years of pastoral experience have persuaded me that cases of the rod not working can be summarized as follows:

  1. Inconsistent use of the rod. The child never knew what would elicit a spanking. Therefore, he was always testing the parent.
  2. Failure to persist. Some folks never try anything long enough for it to work. They give the rod a couple of days. Their children are not transformed overnight. They give up in discouragement.
  3. Failure to be effective. I have witnessed spankings ministered through a double layer of diapers to a child who never stopped moving long enough to know he had been spanked. The spanking was ineffective because the parents never made the rod felt.
  4. Doing it in anger. I have always been amazed at the innate sense of justice in a child. children will not yield to correction administered in unholy anger. They inwardly resist submitting their hearts to a parent who bullies them.”

From Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him. Proverbs 22:15

Parenting Advice From Grandpa

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WWII Veteran Melvin Lagoon with his youngest great-grandson, Enoch. 2012

Here’s some sweet and simple advice from an 89-year old WWII Veteran, and father of four:

“Love ‘em. There’s no need to yell at ’em all the time like they’re a bunch of dumb animals.”

I will use this post as a small tribute to my grandfather. He is a WWII Veteran, a paratrooper, and by God’s grace, a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge. Recently, he was able to travel back to Belgium where he fought for our freedom, representing the men of the 17th Airborne Division.

I have been delighted to tears to see how he has been honored these last couple weeks. You can read all about it on my uncle’s blog who has documented this once-in-a-life-time opportunity. Here’s a ten-minute news clip that tells the story.

My Grandpa’s story challenges me to evaluate the legacy I am leaving for my children. And their children. And their children. The way I choose to live my life today will no doubt affect the people of my family for generations to come.

Will they look back on my life and be blessed by the way I raised their grandpa or grandma? Am I living a life worth emulating 3 generations from now? Am I creating an honorable legacy to pass on to my great-grandchildren?

I think I speak for all of us Lagoon’s when I say I am privileged to be a part of Melvin Lagoon’s family. His service in fighting for America’s freedom, and his dedication to be a good husband and father has enriched my life. And I’m so grateful.

Apologizing To Your Kids

IMG_2950You were a total jerk to your kids. Even though they were getting out of hand, you lost your temper and took it out on them. No wait- that was me. Who knew I had such a problem with anger? Like Jim Bob Duggar says, “I never had an anger problem before I had kids!”

When you find yourself suffering from mean mommy guilt, the best thing to do is go and apologize to your kids. Take the chance that they might not learn their lesson. They just might learn an even more important one from hearing you apologize: repentance.

We first repent to God, and then the victim of our sin- our children. It takes humility to apologize to such small people who are under our authority. But your apology is powerful. It can heal, and win their little hearts. And that’s what we want, isn’t it? We want to win their hearts so our influence carries weight.

Repentance is the basic building of block of Christianity. Martin Luther believed that the entire life of the Christian should be one of repentance. Tim Kellar states, “It is the way we make progress in the Christian life.” Your kids already know you’re not perfect. So don’t worry about losing ground that you never really had. Show them how to deal with failure by submitting to Jesus, and embracing forgiveness. I pray you hear similar words that I often hear from my little Jane, “Mommy, I will always forgive you!”

For godly sorrow produces repentance [leading] to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

The Opportunity To Sin

IMG_3323One of the most effective strategies of training my children to behave is by allowing them the opportunity to sin.

Especially when I’m busy, I find myself correcting my children, and then taking away their opportunity to sin. “Don’t touch this!” I say, then I take it away and set it on top of the shelf where they couldn’t touch it if they wanted to. It’s immediately convenient for me because I don’t want to have to deal with their disobedience. However, I’m also taking away their opportunity to practice obedience.

When I’m focused on getting stuff done, I remove my children from situations where they can get into mischief. When I’m focused on training them to obey, I let the opportunity for mischief stare them in the face. Because an opportunity to sin is an opportunity to obey. 

As my toddler attempts to topple my pile of freshly folded laundry, I tell him, “Don’t touch…” I don’t redirect his attention. And I don’t remove his temptation to destroy my hard work. I leave it all there right in front of him and wait to see what he will do. He ignores my warning and grabs the pile. He then receives the reproof- a spank on the  hand. I remind him, “Don’t touch…” and I wait. I wait to see if he’ll obey. He goes for my folded pile again, and I spank his hand a second time- a little harder. I’m ready to discipline disobedience, and ready to praise obedience. Each time he grabs the forbidden pile of laundry, he gets spanked. It’s not even about keeping my stuff orderly or completing my tasks anymore. This moment is all about training him to be a good boy, so even if it all ends with laundry strewn about, it’s worth it. Finally, he submits. He sits back in his new-found self-discipline, and leaves my laundry alone. Whew! 

There was no anger. No drama. Just training. Training them to obey by allowing them opportunities to sin.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16

The Goal Is Reconciliation

005-6.jpgIn correcting and disciplining our children, it’s important to remember the goal: Reconciliation.  Whether our child is being corrected for hitting, being selfish, being rude, etc., make it your goal to reconcile them to the person offended, and ultimately to God.  Avoid being simply corrective: “Stop that!” “That was his first, give it back!” “Don’t talk to me like that!”  It’s easy to adopt the attitude of, “Stop sinning because it’s irritating me.” There’s no reconciliation in that. Our privilege as parents is to train them to be kind, compassionate, responsible people for their own good. The byproduct is that we parents are also blessed by their good behavior.  A child who is never given the opportunity to reconcile their wrongs is likely to feel angry and insecure.

Think of the way God confronts us. He causes us to recognize our sin. We repent, and He forgives us. We can follow this example by pointing out our child’s sin, giving them the opportunity to apologize to the offended, encouraging the victim to verbally forgive them.  You don’t even need to make your child apologize most of the time. Showing them your disapproval of their behavior is usually enough to make them feel remorse for their actions. Appeal to their conscience. Appeal to God’s laws and biblical truth. By doing this you are teaching them to respect authority.  When they apologize, make sure they say what they’re sorry for. This helps them to own their sin, rather than mumbling out an insincere apology.  Whether you’re the victim of their crime, or another child is, follow through with the reconciliation process by insisting on genuine forgiveness. After we declare that the offender is forgiven, we don’t need to remind them of our disappointment, disapproval, or irritation. Pay close attention to your facial expression! If you still have irritation in your eyes, be confident that they will notice! Smile lovingly, and encourage them to have fun as they return to their play.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation… 2 Cor. 5:18