At what age do you start a consistent discipline routine? And how do you discipline children? Any book recommendations on discipline?
Maureen from NY
30 y/o mother of a 13m/o son, married 8 years
This is a frequently asked question I’d love to answer!
First let me share this video on How To Give Your Child An Effective Time Out - this is my most frequent form of discipline:
Here’s a break down of the video:
God put Jonah in a divine time-out in the belly of a whale for 3 whole days! So clearly – removing our child for the situation and giving them a quiet place to think about their choices is a wise method to bringing our children to repentance and change.
1. First, we need to be praying. Ask God to help you be a Godly, loving, wise, gentle, and self-controlled mother. Ask God to give your children tender hearts and a sensitive conscience. I recommend all of Sally Clarkson’s books on motherhood. They have greatly helped me in the gentleness and grace department !
2. Keep you anger in check. Anger is not going to change their hearts. “Yelling at a bud won’t make it bloom!” We need to deal with them gently and with self-control. If you can’t do this – then you are not ready to discipline your child and you need to take a mommy time-out. Go to your bathroom or front porch (yep – I do this lol!) and simply breathe and pray. Then deal with your child.
3. Tell them why they are in time-out.
4. I set a timer according to their age. If they are 3 years old, I set it for 3 minutes. If they are 5 years old – 5 minutes and so on.
5. Let them sit and think about what they did wrong. Inform them, “Mommy is going to ask you what you did wrong so think about what you did and why it was wrong.”
6. Set the timer and walk away – do not verbally throw up on them, this only causes strife. Let it go. Remember they are children and your job as a parent is to train them. Rapid fire lectures are ineffective. (When my son was first starting time-outs, I only required him to sit for one minute. He regularly got up to try to run away (Oh yes I had a stinker on my hands lol! ) I said “no no” you have to stay here while mommy counts to 60. If he ran out -I put him back and started counting back at 1. Oh friends, this tried my patience!!! But if you have an ornery one it’s worth going the distance with them – they do learn!)
7. When the time is up – ask them what they did wrong. If they don’t know – tell them and have them repeat it back to you.
8. Then ask them why does God say what they did was wrong? If they don’t know help them. Tell them the Bible says we are to be kind or loving or to obey our parents. Sometimes I get my Bible out and read them a verse that addresses what they did wrong – other times – they already know it and we quote a verse. (Ginger Plowman’s Wise Words for Moms is a $4 tool that gives you all the verses and questions to ask during discipline – it really helped me when I first started disciplining. )
9. Ask them to make right their wrong. Usually this means an apology is in order.
10. Do not forget #10!!!!!! Let it Go!!! Give your child grace. Hug and kiss them. Let reconciliation take place. Make sure they know you discipline them because you love them. Look for ways to praise them, build them up – believe in your children.
Do you feel like you do all of this and it’s not working – watch the last minute of the video…I address this.
Remember that just as you are in authority over your children – you are under authority to God. You are both in the same boat – under the authority of God. When your child disobeys God by disobeying you – and we fail to be loving, kind, self-controlled and gentle while we are training our children – then we are also disobeying God – we need a time-out – ha!
Other methods I use:
For disrespectful words, back talk or fighting with a sibling – I have them cup their hand over their mouth for about 30 seconds – this is especially useful in the car lol! Proverbs 30:32 says: If you have played the fool and exalted yourself, or if you have planned evil, clap your hand over your mouth!
For mean words – lose all sweets and treats for the day (or a few days) – “If you can’t talk sweetly – you can’t have sweets!”
Not keeping their hands to themselves – I have them fold their hands in their lap for a minute or so.
Bad report in Sunday School – (sad to admit this happens) – sit in the service with mommy and daddy for a few weeks.
Exceptional disobedience, defiance, or physical fighting – a few swats – “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15
Proverbs 1:7 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
If we as moms fail to teach our children the fear of the Lord and the greatness of God daily through role modeling it in our life, reading Bible stories, memorizing verses with them and prayer – then we can expect the heart of our children to be hard. We must remember to teach them God’s word in fun moments along the way of life – so when we pull out verses during training time they don’t feel thumped over the head by God’s word but rather lovingly instructed.
Remember that when you train your child, you train generations to come – so persevere! Galatians 6:9 “Do not grow weary in doing good for in due season you will reap a harvest IF you do not give up.”
**Chime in: How do you discipline your children? Tell us in the comments section!
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