We’d been parents to one child for 5 years, then Little Dude was added to our family for about 2 and half months, during which time we had Big Sis and Little Bro added for 8 days. One thing I didn’t really see coming with these additions to our family was how it would affect my parenting, or rather how it would reveal areas I thought I was doing okay in.
- I’ve always said that consistency in discipline was important, but when there’s 4 kids, it becomes more of a necessity. When there’s just one it would be easy to let things slide, and now that we’re back to one again we have to make more of a conscious effort to keep that consistency in taking care of disobedient actions or attitudes.
- The importance of being a good example and doing what I ask them to do (or not do). I’d tell the kids to not to get upset over little things, but I would allow myself to, which leads to the next thing….
- Apologizing. I’ve always tried to do this with Gracia and I had to apologize when Little Dude was here too. I don’t remember the details, but one day I hadn’t been patient with the kids. When I talked to them about it, I said, “I’m sorry. You two were not obeying, but even if you don’t obey it doesn’t mean that I can act wrongly.” Then I realized that’s exactly what I had been trying to teach them! When one would bug the other I would say, “Just because someone’s bugging you, doesn’t mean you can act wrongly.”
- Be wise in choosing words. With one of the kids we had, we made a conscious effort not to use certain words. We avoided things like, “you were bad” or “good” but instead chose words like “you disobeyed” or “obeyed.” Which got us thinking that maybe those terms would be better for us to use with all the kids.
- Don’t assume they’ll do wrong! I can’t remember where we heard this, maybe in one of our foster classes, but I failed many times in this one too. It’d be easy to say things like, “If you don’t….then….., and if you still don’t do…., then you’ll…..and then if you still don’t….” You get the idea. Instead we tried to focus on the positive. “Once you do….then you can go play!” Or even thanking them for doing it beforehand shows that you trust them to do as their told. Even we adults perform better when people have higher expectations and show that they believe we’ll do a good job.
- Going to the heart really does matter. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart* talks all about this! With kids it could be extra easy to try to get them to simply do as we say and not try to address the deeper issue, but the problem isn’t just that they disobeyed, or threw a tantrum, or didn’t share. Their problems go deeper, just like the rest of us, we all have the sin nature in us, and we all need to see it so we see our need for Christ.
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