If there's something I hate to do, that is to discipline my children. Wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if kids just did what they were supposed to do and we never had to be witchy to them? I wonder if God sometimes wishes that His children would just do what He says, too. It's great that we were given free agency to choose as we will, but that means that our kids will choose as they will as well. (That was a mouthful.) Much of the time they make good decisions, because they have great parents as their examples, right? :) But sometimes they make the wrong decisions and we, as parents, have to teach them in some form or another that that needs to be fixed.
This is where my problem comes in. I'm all about disciplining when the need arises, but I don't like to do it right at the moment the untoward deed occurs because I'm usually angry and say things in a tone that my kids construe as yelling. (Does that ever happen to you? You know you didn't yell, but your kids say, "Why are you yelling at me?") Conversely, if I wait to discipline them once I calm down, they are in a good mood and have forgotten all about it and I hate to ruin the good rapport we have. One of the solutions I have come up with is called "Delay" Discipline. Here's how it works:
If we have a family curfew of 11:00 and THIS boy...
(how could anyone ever get mad at this face, anyway?)
...comes in at 11:32, I will have this conversation with him upon his arrival home:
Me: Son, you are 32 minutes late. What happened?
Son: [any one of a vast variety of excuses]
Me: Okay, well good night.
Son: Good night?
Me: Yes, good night.
That will be the extent of the conversation that night. Seven days will go by until the next weekend and the son will ask if he can go to [fill in the blank]. This is when I will strike. This is how THIS conversation will go:
Son: Mom, can I go to [fill in the blank]?
Me: Well, Son, last Saturday you didn't come home on time. I feel like I can't trust you to abide by the family rules, so I think that maybe you should stay home tonight. For your physical and spiritual safely, I have to be able to trust that you'll do what you say you're going to do. If you prove this week that you can be trusted again, we'll talk about letting you go out next weekend.
Son: [dejectedly walks away]
This method accomplishes several things:
1. I am not trying to discipline when I am angry.
2. The child is left a bit puzzled that there were no consequences of his actions and he is left to think about it for a few days.
3. I don't have to bring it up and ruin the good mood that may be present
4. The tasks of teaching and disciplining occur and the child learns that he needs to behave in a trustworthy manner in order to receive privileges.
Here's one more example:
The family has established that if a morning chore is not done before the child leaves for school, that child will have to be Mom's servant for one hour per chore on the weekend. This child...
(and how am I supposed to get mad at her?)
...forgets to make her bed on Monday and Tuesday and forgets to feed the chickens on Thursday. That is three forgotten chores, thus equalling three hours of servitude on the weekend. Instead of nagging the child when she returns home from lunch or after school, I keep a log of the offenses. When Saturday comes, there will be a conversation like this:
Daughter: Hey, Mom, can I go [fill in the blanks]?
Mom: Well, let's see. Let me get out my log. On Monday and Tuesday you didn't make your bed and on Thursday you forgot to feed the chickens. That's three missed chores which equals three hours of you being my servant. So, I guess after that you can go.
Daughter: [storms away, but knows I am right, I'm sure of it!]
What do you think of "Delay" Discipline? What other methods do you use to teach right from wrong, but still maintain a good feeling in the home? I would love to hear what ideas you have. What works for you?
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