Dear Courtney, How Do You Discipline Your Kids?

 

Dear Courtney,

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

Dear Maureen,

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!

Walk with the King,

 

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for sharing, Courtney! I especially appreciate the urging to be kind and loving. I’m continually amazed at the ways people talk to and humiliate their children under the name of training them. I just want to say “would you want someone to treat you that way?” I think it’s important to remember that yes, we are in a position of authority over our children, and yes we need to train them, and pray over them, and guide them.

    But, at the same time, they are PEOPLE just like we are and I believe that when Jesus says for us to treat others the way we’d want to be treated, it even includes *gasp* children! lol. So, I try to have patience, grace, and respect for my children, just like I would want my husband or anyone else to have toward me :) Great post and thanks for sharing! We employ a lot of the same techniques, and will consider the no sweets and cupping the hand over their mouths ones as well. great ideas.

  2. says

    Courtney, we pretty much do the same thing, ie, time outs according to age, explain what they did wrong, and later ask them to tell us what they did wrong (I feel this is part of confession as in 1 John 1:9- we are instructed to do that, and it’s a good habit to get into, and it definitely reveals the state of their heart when they try to get out of actually *saying* what they did wrong). I like the extra steps you take, like having them explain WHY what they did was wrong (according to the Word)…I like that you use it as an opportunity to share the Word. I honestly hadn’t really thought about doing that before. I will have to incorporate some of your “other methods” too. Great ideas!

  3. Noelle C. says

    I love this! It’s very helpful to me as the Mother of toddler boys. I never thought about Jonah in the belly of the fish as a time out, but you are right it was. I do take Mommy time outs too. I remember one time when I was learning to deal with difficult people that I was reading through the Gospels and saw that Jesus did that exact thing. He would go out in a boat away from people and distractions and pray.

  4. says

    Thank you so much for this, I haven’t finished reading this – but did manage to save it so I can continue reading it in a moment. Whew! A mommy’s life really is a multi-tasking life, isn’t it?!
    I really appreciate and love what God has done in my life through your blog and online ministry. :) I just wanted you to know that!

  5. says

    I love the image/quote at the top!!!: )

    question about time out. I have an almost 2 year old who thinks time out is fun. he actually asks to go to time out!!! (I have him sit on a rug and time approx. a minute) I have done everything I can to make it not fun. no toys I don’t talk to him during it etc. but he still asks to go to time out… what am I doing wrong?!?? or is this just not an effective way to discipline him and I need to try something else. (I have abandoned the idea of time out for now, but would love your input on making it more effective)

    • Jennifer says

      Time out doesn’t have to be horrible for them. Time out can be a cozy spot they like. They just need a place where they get no attention from you and time to think and calm down. Just like we need to go sit out on the porch for a time out. It doesn’t have to be bad. Just make sure they are able to tell you what they did wrong and why they shouldn’t do it again. :)

    • Alana says

      I have two younger children, one is 3 and a half and the other will be 2 in a couple of weeks. I advise you to spank. When they are so young correct behavior is the goal. Of course the ultimate goal is to shepherd their hearts, build their character, so that when they are older and have a moral choice to make, hopefully they will go with the right one. But with these little ones to big goal is OBEDIENCE, if we teach them to obey now, hopefully they will ultimately obey Christ. I avoid “speeches” with the younger one. If I say “come here buddy.” and he doesn’t I go get him, spank the back of his leg, still in diapers :), stand him up and say: “you need to obey mama, come here.” and give him a chance to obey, If he still doesn’t, I spank again until he does. UGH! typing this sounds so awful, but it works. We are training them right? This is biblical, they need their wills broken, not their spirits. That’s my advice for your age child. Check out raisinggodlytomatoes.com

  6. Sharon says

    Courtney, I’ve often wondered how you discipline your kids! Thanks for sharing. I have been learning so much about how important it is to be gentle and respectful of my daughter when it comes to disciplining her. Unfortunately, my husband and I are not on the same page as far as how to discipline our daughter. I’d say he reacts out of anger and will spout out some unreasonable punishment (you can’t (fill in the blank) for a week) in the heat of the moment. One thing that really drives me crazy is if our toddler does something he tells her not to do and she ends up getting hurt, he basically has an “I told you so” attitude about it instead of first comforting her. I’d love it if you could speak to the issue of husbands and wives not agreeing on how to discipline their kids. I am a SAHM, so I am obviously with our daughter a lot more than he is, and therefor handle the discipline much more often than he does.

    • says

      Men and women have naturally different parenting types. That can be an asset. As a woman, you are designed to be a nurturer. When your child disobeys and gets hurt, your natural instinct is to fix the hurt first and worry about the discipline later. For a man, it’s different. Men don’t have that same kind of nurturing instinct. So it’s more important to most fathers that their children learn that disobedient behavior has consequences (including getting hurt). Children need to learn both lessons. They need to know that they will always be taken care of and loved, no matter what they do. But they also need to learn that their actions have consequences and that their parents have good reasons for what they say. So, as long as your husband isn’t ignoring serious injury, realize that he is simply teaching your child a different (and equally valuable) lesson.

      As for parenting out of anger, first of all be sure that he is not simply doing things differently than you would. Being more harsh than a mother would can be one of the benefits of having a father. Yes, benefits. Mothers can sometimes be so soft that they enable their children to disobey more. So a different parenting style does not necessarily mean that its wrong. Children need both parents with their different parenting styles. That’s why God planned for them to have a mommy and a daddy.

      If your husband is indeed reacting in anger without thinking, I would suggest talking to him (not at the time, but sometime later when both of you are calm and have time to talk it out). Come up with a unified plan for dealing with bad behavior. Realize that he will probably want at least some punishments to be more harsh than you do. Find a balance. When you have a plan in place beforehand, it makes it much easier to keep anger and other emotions in check and it keeps the two of you on the same page. One component of the plan can be that, in certain cases, you will not give a punishment immediately, but will take time to talk together about what the punishment should be. In the mean time, the child may sit in time out or be sent to their room or something like that. This gives you a time to discuss what is an appropriate discipline for the offense and gives the child some healthy fear and trepidation for what mom and dad are going to decide.

      The goal is to provide a unified front to your children and a predictable and orderly response to their bad behavior such that they know what happens when they disobey. You don’t want to allow an opportunity for your child to play one parent against the other. Nor do you want them to get a “no-no, we don’t do that” one day and a spanking or week-long grounding another day for the same offense. They need a predictable set of consequences for their behavior. “When you do X, you get this punishment.”

      • Sharon says

        Lindsay,

        Thank you so much for taking the time to respond! I seem to have such a hard time realizing on my own that just because my husband does something differently than me, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. In fact, it can be beneficial. There have been several instances of this lately, and it’s taken someone from the “outside” to make me realize I’m the one who is wrong. Thanks again!

  7. Jeanne says

    Great post Courtney, I love the sweets idea! I have an expert teaser who loves sweets!! I also really need to work on #8. I put my kids in the bathroom until they decide they are ready to obey so the time is up to them. Lately I have also added a chore for them to do when they are ready to obey. It has helped keep things tidy and I am kinda bummed when they aren’t misbehaving!! And I think what you are doing is working cause your kids are great!

  8. Melanie says

    I use time outs and removal of privileges. My problem is with my daughter, when I put in a time out she screams. I wait for her to be quite before starting her time (she’s 7). Sometimes this works, but most of the time it makes it worse. Any suggestions?

    • says

      My children are now ages 18, 15 and 8. I never used “timed” time-outs as I feel they are totally ineffective at making any real or lasting change. My children always sat in time out “until they were ready to ________ (share, use kind words, obey, etc. – you name the specific desired behavior) Time out was not a punishment but rather a place to “calm down” and “collect” themselves, to gain control over their emotions and behaviors.

      If your daughter knew she would be in time out “until”, she would learn to calm down and collect herself quickly – (self-control is a skill we all need to learn!)

      I always talked with my children about the offense, as well. We would talk about how their behavior, words, etc. made the recipient feel; how it would make them feel if they had been on the receiving end… It is so important that children learn to think about others as themselves. It’s how we develop compassion.

  9. Shannon says

    I have a very strong willed 2 year old that I have not had success using timeouts with, would love to hear from any other moms with advice. Thank you for sharing Courtney – I am encouraged to try again with the timeouts. I have trouble being consistent because I haven’t found any one thing that seems effective.

    • Jennifer says

      What are you doing for TO’s? I put my 2 year old in his room for time outs. I have a child saftey lock over the door knob so he can’t get out. He is more upset that he’s not getting attention and that’s what makes it work. When I go back in I squat down to his level and ask “Okay what did you do wrong?” and he has to tell me “I hit” or whatever. Then I say “we don’t hit, that’s not nice/kind, No Hit, say it” and he has to say it back to me “No hit”. Then I give him a hug and a kiss and tell him I love him. This works. Also people need to look at WHY they are misbehaving. Maybe your child feels ignored and needs some one on one attention with you and your not noticing so they act out. Adress the WHY they are acting out as well. Most misbehavoir can be diverted with a little one on one time. Read “Happiest Toddler On The Block”. ALOT of great tips on there, even though I don’t use his “Toddlerease” theory. :)

  10. Robin says

    Yes disapline is frustrating my 2almst 2yre old think I’m a joking and everything is funny he laughs and runs off when I try time out a d if a pop w my lil ruler he thinks that is funny too! I’m at a wits end as to what to do w him he also throws fits and has a temper . I’m trying so hard to my b consist andean what I say and b strict w him it hard tho cuz he is our only child right know so he my baby And my husband is no help . Pray pray pray is all I know to do

  11. says

    I love the correlation of things (sweets, placing hand over mouth, etc) with behavior. And as a Sunday School Director I greatly appreciate it when parents take on the responsibility of keeping their children with them in service when they have been naughty as a way of teaching them to behave better next time. Sadly, this doesn’t happen very often – but when parents work together with Sunday School teachers to help their children do better, things work a lot smoother. :) I plan to implement this in our home as well. Thanks for the top-notch advice!!!

  12. Nicole says

    I have a 3 1/2, 2 1/2, and a 10 month old. A couple books that have helped me are “Shepherding a Child’s Heart and Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd and Margy Tripp and Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic.”

  13. Lisa V. says

    Thanks Courtney, I really needed this. My 6 yr old son has recently started this phase where he has become so defiant. I’m trying very hard not to react in anger but it has been a big challenge. I am absolutely going to use your suggestions, including putting myself in timeout if need be!

  14. Katharina says

    Gentle words? Yes, please.
    A few swats? No. Rather try to find out what your child is trying to tell you by expressing strong feelings.

  15. cathleen rafalko says

    Great wisdom all over here! We also loved and used “wise words for moms” chart! My church runs a parenting group. it’s lead by our pastor and his wife who have raised 5 children. they are humble and transparent to share many of the mistakes they have made to guide the small group of us that meets weekly. We have read “sheparding a child’s heart” together and other books too… consider leading one of these groups in your church, or finding someone who has older childrend to lead it. Thanks for the “cupping mouth” in prov and “no treats for less than sweet words” I will use these ideas at home too! I do believe spanking is biblical, but with my three children, that discpline does not seem to work for my more sensitive children… It really needs to be done in the way Tripp talks about, otherwise it can backfire. Thanks for the prayer on how to effectively discipline… It’s one of a parent’s most changelling skills :)

  16. says

    Thank you so much for addressing this topic! My almost 3 year old has just started her ‘terrible two’s’ and her tantrums are more than I personally have ever seen. Rather than fuming and getting upset at her actions (which I cannot lie, I have done at the start of these) I have started to pray about it. Taking a ‘time out’ to calm myself so I do not overreact to her, and put God in control of the situation has really helped. In a recent sermon at church, our pastor taught us instead of counting 1-10 to calm down, just to count 1, 4, 1. By saying these numbers instead of counting, it recalls a verse in Psalm 141:3 ‘Lord, help me control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say,’ and honestly it really does help! =)

  17. says

    thanks so much for speaking to my heart. I so need to blow up your pic to a poster size and stick it in my living room. I just ordered the book Wise Words for Moms. I think it would help me if I knew what to say when things goes wrong. I think that’s why I get mean because I am not programed to be nice. I wasn’t taught as a child on a lot of things. Keep praying that something will sink in my brain.

  18. Tricia says

    I enjoy reading your blogs, you are wise beyond your years. I agree with this post except for “time out”. I have two grown children and never used “time out” but have a sister-in-law that does and her children are extremely disobedient. I grew up on and am a firm believer in “spare the rod, spoil the child.” There is a big difference in abuse and spanking a child on the bottom. I got more than my share of spankings growing up and it didn’t hurt me one bit. Not speaking against your post at all just don’t be afraid to discipline your child…..there are times when the Lord disciplines us and He hasn’t given me a time out yet. :)

  19. says

    I really appreciate these Courtney. We’ve made so many blunders I can’t offer many suggestions here. Once when the oldest two were fighting I’d had enough. I told him to bring me the belt. His eyes got wide. He trembled. (I’d never used a belt to spank before, but he’d heard about my descriptions of it from when I was growing up). He was terrified and fearful. He brought me a belt. I told him,”Okay, turn around.” He did so. I put his sister back-to-back with him. He didn’t know what was happening. Then I wrapped the belt around both of them. I set a timer for 30 mins. I said they had to learn to love each other and get along. They were not to be unbound until the timer dinged. It worked pretty well. Taught them a lesson anyways.

  20. Lillian says

    Thanks Courtney for such a great response and article on Disciplining our children. How would I discipline a 13 year old, whom is home with me all day because I homeschool and doesn’t want to listen at times and also talks back and disrespectful at times too? He has a 6 year old sister whom I also homeschool but she listens alot more than he does. ANy suggestions on what to do?? Any suggestions on what I should read??
    Thanks.

    P.S. when is your book coming out??

  21. Charity says

    Hi Courtney,

    Silent reader for a few months here, first time commenting. I wanted to thank you for this post and for your admonishing us mothers to be kind to our children while disciplining them. I have four littles (6, 5, 3, 16mn, and expecting our fifth blessing) so I feel liked am constantly disciplining someone. I think sometimes it’s so easy to just treat them like short adults, and we forget that they are children, and they’re learning! I grew up in an incredibly abusive home, so when I married and had children, disciplining them was something I was afraid of, until I realized “do unto others” is applicable in all of life’s situations. So, when my little ones do wrong I think, “okay, how would I want to be treated and dealt with if I was in their shoes?”, and the it all seems more clear. We have to realize we aren’t perfect either, we are still learning too.

    Thank you again!

  22. Suse says

    Thanks for the analogy of Adam and Eve it spoke to me. I often tire expecting my children should know better, I have told and disciplined them so many times. Adam and Eve actually walked with God in the garden and still made a wrong choice. And I guess it’s also like the children of Israel and their Kings, I think why didn’t they ever learn.
    Hmmm, how often does God try to teach me. He doesn’t get half as angry with me as I do with my babies.

    Thanks for the scriptures to confirm this is God’s will for our lives. Must get back to making it about God’s expectations and not mine. I also need to take that little bit longer, to get back into the habit of praying with them after the time out has finished, before they go and apologise to whoever.

    Your blog is a blessing and my must read each day.

    All the way from Australia
    Suse

  23. Jen Hasseld says

    I can’t stress the Wise Words for Moms enough-excellent resource! I have a few tricks in my discipline bag:
    *With my children, based on the study Entrusted With A Child’s Heart (http://www.entrustedministries.com/) I make them say, “I was wrong to disobey you. Please forgive me.” Then they are forgiven and we hug it out. This is way harder than a simple, snarky “Sorry” thrown over your shoulder!
    *When I give them an order, I expect them to say, “Yes, Mom” (also from Entrusted) so I know they’ve heard me (no excuse for “but I didn’t hear you!”)
    *Got a crabby kid? Stick ‘em in water. An impromptu bath is always soothing for them.
    *The time you you least want to be around your kids? The time you need it (and they need it) the most. I force myself to calm down (breathing prayers furiously), and then either hold their hand or give them a hug. It diffuses the situation very well.
    *I have the Ibehave app on my phone-a portable marble jar. My children are in charge (with my supervision) of adding and removing marbles from their jar based on their behavior. It’s been quite effective while out running errands.
    Hope some of those can help someone!

  24. says

    Wonderful! We used to discipline our children with “first time obedience” and the consequence was always a spanking. We soon found that with our second child, (our son), this did not work. Spankings only escalated the situation and it was total chaos. A great book (also taught via DVDs) is Loving our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk. Weird name, but a great book. Danny initially worked on these discipline guidelines with families that were fostering children from abusive homes – they could not use any type of physical punishment and they needed alternatives. Anyway, sorry to ramble. Just wanted to mention another great source. Blessings! -diane

  25. Larissa says

    I really struggle with obedience and sins of the tongue. I mean, I’m a teenager, not a mom. And it’s especially difficult when you want the discipline and your unbeliever parents think the right thing to do is to let me control myself, no matter how much I’ve explained to them about how I’d like to be disciplined.
    But this post somehow helped. I’ll try to time-out myself under the authority of God. I’ll think, I’ll tell Him what I did wrong, I’ll consider the Bible and I’ll make wrong right, by the grace of God!
    And this about placing your hands on your mouth and the “no sweet talk no candies” is going to be a HUGE help!
    Thank you SO much!

    • Jen Hasseld says

      Larissa,
      I think it’s FANTASTIC that you, as a teenager, see the need for discipline. Kudos to you for humbling yourself under God’s authority on your own when your parents don’t see the need. I taught middle school for 10 years and this is something I tried to explain to parents again and again-kids WANT and NEED boundaries and discipline! Keep it up, girl!

      • Larissa says

        Thank you so much, Mrs Hasseld!
        You must’ve been a wonderful teacher if you knew us kids so well!
        It’s not that I’m really all happy in admiting I’m wrong without having anyone to rather force me too (it’s so EASIER to think you’re right when no one is saying you’re wrong…), but as I come in contact with several wise older women (mostly online, such here in WLW, or in an amazing ministry called Revive Our Hearts) I learn that God want us as humans, and especially as women, to surrender ourselves to Him. The earlier I learn to do it, the better for me, right?
        Thanks for your support!

  26. says

    Courtney, I loved the illustration of God being THE perfect, loving God the Father in the Garden of Eden and still how Adam and Eve CHOSE to disobey. That just encouraged me to keep plugging away when my children are being disobedient over the same issue time and time again. They can choose to do wrong no matter what I do, and yet we continue to lovingly train them. When my kids do something good/right/kind, I also try to tell them that not only does this make Mommy and Daddy happy but ultimately, it makes Jesus happy, just as doing the wrong thing is a sin and makes Jesus sad, not just Mom and Dad. Thanks for the encouragement today!

  27. Wendy T says

    This is a great post! I also wanted to throw another resource out there. It is through Doorposts. It is for biblical training and you can personalize it with your own consequences. (btw, I have no affiliation with Doorposts, other than wanting to offer another resource that works too.) http://www.doorposts.com/details.aspx?id=91 The charts are laminated so you can update them as the children get older if you need to.
    Take care and thank you for all you do!

  28. says

    Yes! We need to discipline our children. I admit, too often I discipline out of anger :(. That’s not effective, not for me or my daughter. I love what you outlined here. Chastising our children is in the Bible! I need patience to execute these steps well but I know that giving grace is a good place to start.

  29. Gwen says

    Really enjoy your emails- and they challenge me too! I have 4 children ages 10 and down and have really been benefitting from the book ‘Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character… in You and Your Kids!’. They talking about “taking a break” rather than a timeout, and get the child to determine how long they are in their room (or wherever) so that the child comes out with a good attitude, ready to talk about what they did :) . Avoiding being harsh in my discipline of them is something I’m still having to work on. Thanks again for all your hard work and encouragement!

  30. Bernadette says

    Totally agree with Gwen! I love Turansky and Miller’s books. I never found a time out to be effective, but taking a break really helps. It’s not so much about the duration of the calm down period as it is giving them enough time to calm down. Sometimes it takes my boys (3 and 5) a few minutes, sometimes it takes longer, but I can tell when they have changed their hearts and when they really need to go back and work on it some more. They give lots of great ideas, I highly recommend them!

  31. Edith says

    This post and the comments have many wonderful thoughts and ideas. I do think, generally speaking, each gender has its own difficulties. I have 3 sisters and 0 brothers. My first son really had it rough. I had no idea how boys could be! I have 2 boys and 4 girls, 26 -7 yrs. My older daughter was calm and level-headed. My son had energy that went on forever. He loved to be rowdy and loud – not in a negative way though. Thankfully the Lord sent an older experienced mother my way. She was actually speaking to another mother who was having respect issues with her older son, but I took her words to heart. She said the Lord created men with physical strength and the job of being the head of their families with many responsibilities. Because of this boys, had to have many opportunities to gain self-control and other leadership skills. Unfortunately, sometimes this meant they would “practice” their adult roles on their sisters and mothers. The father would have to step-in and support the mother in those instances. We cannot expect our boys to reach a certain age or get married and just automatically know how to lead a family without this training as they grew-up. It really gave me a greater appreciation for my son and the enormous calling all men have.
    Also, you have to know your child’s currency. The last time I had an attitude problem with my 15 yr. old, the consequence was no make-up or flat iron for 2 days, which included church on a Wed. night. She was warned before the consequence took affect. So far the attitude has not reappeared. My younger children follow the lead of the older children. Parenting takes consistency, imagination, patience, love, mercy, grace and lots of on-your-knees prayer with our heavenly Father.

  32. Jill says

    (Please don’t post my email address)

    When our two daughters (2 years apart) were young and got into a bad argument/fight with each other (and said “not-nice” things about the other), I would send them to their rooms and give each of them a piece of paper and pencil (or crayon), and they had to write down five things they liked (or loved) about their sister. They couldn’t come out until they had done that – and given each other a hug. They were old enough to write (sometimes barely), but if they hadn’t been, they could have had someone else write it for them. By the time they were usually finished, they were very sorry (sometimes crying) and wanted to be together again. They were always close and are best friends to this day (24 & 26 years old).

    P.S. I kept the ‘letters’ and they are priceless! :D

    • Suse says

      We have started using a similar technique Jill. My children are 5, 4 and 1. The older two have 18mths between them and name calling and saying unkind things happens frequently. Reading Courtney’s blog reminded me of when a pastor friend used the following technique with the youth of our church. If you said something unkind about someone you had to say 3 nice things about them. This week I implemented this with out kids, today my son was only caught out three times. Making progress :)

  33. Christina says

    I love that phrase: “don’t verbally throw up on them,” never thought of it that way. It is exactly what happens when we don’t watch and mind what words come out of our mouths when we are angry!!! Love all your teaching Courtney :) Blessings to you !!!

  34. April says

    I briefly read most of the comments, I don’t know if someone commented this but there’s an app for that!!! While I was checking out Wise Words for Moms, I realized I could get that app for my iPhone. I purchased it ($1.99) but I have yet to look at it in detail to see if it’s similar to the paper chart. I do like the fact I have it with me at all times though so even if it’s not as detailed ad the paper chart I still have something that I can reference. This post was AWESOME, thank you so very much.

  35. says

    This was a great post. It was nice to read this morning after finding my 18 month old’s beautiful artwork on my Colossians Bible Study Guide. My husband and I try not to get upset when we see ink or tears in our bibles because we are thankful that both our boys have the freedom to even know what a bible is. I’m also thankful that there are women like you that give me inspiration to be a better wife and mother with the help of the Lord. Thank you!

  36. Molly says

    Great advice. I do have one concern though. I am not sure why you would want your children to think of going to church as a punishment. 75% of children growing up in the church will not go as adults. I think part of the problem is we make Sunday School like a birthday party with games, crafts and snacks and then make them think that adult service is awful. Anyway, as someone super sad about those statistics, I think we should be careful how our children view worship.

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