The subject here is discipline. I think discipline is very very important. And some kids need stronger doses of it than others. Every kid really is different. Discipline creates order, structure, consequences for bad behavior. And for discipline to be truly effective the kids need to also be receiving tons of love. They need to know that It doesn’t matter what you look like, how you act, what you did or did not do. I love you regardless. There are things I want for your life that I know will make your life better. But if you do everything wrong, fail at everything, and even tell me you hate me, I will still love you as much as I did when I first laid eyes on you.
That is the truth.
A kid needs to hear and feel some version of that frequently but also often.
There was a distinct moment when Levi was three years old. He was mad about something I told him he could not do. He told me he hated me and didn’t love me anymore and was never going to love me again. Now he was a 3-year-old temper tantrum but it still ticked me off. I started to yell back, “You know what!” He screamed back, “what!” I calmed down in a split second and told him in the nicest way ever. “It’s okay buddy, and I still love you.” He looked shocked and said “Really?”, In a way, only a 3-year-old could.
“Of course”, I told him. “I will always love you no matter what. “
We had a great little talk and even though he was only 3 I could tell that had a huge impact on him. I think before then he assumed love was a bargaining chip. It had a big impact on me too. He was 3 and probably won’t remember that fight. But I can tell through his actions, that in his core he knows that no matter what, he is a deeply loved boy.
Now, I want to be the best father possible. Creating our family playbook and creating this content are ways in which I am still trying to improve as a father every day. I know Rhyan wants to be the best mom possible. We know that in order to be the best parent means we have to both be on the same page. We have to be a team. We have to be indivisible. That means consistency:
Making the same corrections.
Providing the same guidance.
Rewarding the same behaviors.
We both know that our common goal is to raise awesome adults not raise them to be kids. We know that being the best parent means not enabling our kids and letting them run the household. We understand kids do not know what is best for themselves. We, their parents, know what is best for them. We provide a safe, clean, loving, comfortable home with rules and routines. And we enforce those rules. We live a disciplined life. While we do punish bad behavior discipline also means instruction and knowledge. We are always teaching and always learning. Giving a child everything they want is an absolutely terrible way to parent. You will destroy your child’s life with overindulgence, entitlement, and dissatisfaction.
I decided long ago:
My kids are going to come from a nice, loving two parent home.
They are going to see a unified wife and husband that love and discipline them.
They are going to have independence within reason.
I am not going to let a daycare raise my kids.
I am not going to let school teachers raise my kids. (Schools are a whole subject on their own.
They are not going to be criminals.
They won’t do drugs
They will not drop out of school
And I love them enough to tell them all of these things, from the day they understand it until the day they leave my roof. And I love them enough to discipline them if they do something stupid. Most importantly, I love them enough to let them face the consequences of their decisions.
Now, I believe in structure and I believe in discipline. Discipline comes in many forms. Don’t care how you discipline your child to the extent that the discipline works. It corrects the wrong and encourages the right. If timeout is effective great. If stern talking to is effective wonderful. If taking away treat, games, events are working, perfect. That’s the point of discipline. Behavior correction.
My experience is that discipline has to be changed up. I find the same thing over and over is not effective. My mom always put hot sauce in my mouth for bad words. At first, it was terrible. Now I love hot sauce. If your method of discipline is not working change things up. Try something different. Figure out what the kid will respond to this time. If verbal correction isn’t working try spanking or taking away something they like. If spanking isn’t working anymore try verbal correction or taking something away. That’s one of the challenges of being a parent. Figure out what works. It probably won’t work forever, then you just have to adapt and change again.
I have no problem spanking my child on the bottom as an effective behavioral correction method. Their bottom is well padded and the sting is an effective reminder of wrongdoing. I find a good spanking allow me to not have to spank for a long time. The mere threat of spanking is enough to fix most things. I think if I had to spank my kids all the time I would find something else because clearly, this isn’t working. And if I keep spanking my kid all the time I’m just not being a good enough dad. Time to change. All 3 of my boys responded very well to spanking. So I rarely have to break it out of the repertoire. I’m sure some kids won’t respond to it. I’m sure some parents are against it. In those cases don’t do it. As long as your other tactics are working I just don’t care.
Here is what I have a serious problem with: beating a child. Good dads never leave lasting marks on a child. We don’t leave welts or bruises. No dad should ever strike a child on the head or body.
When it comes to punishment, we must remind our children why they are being punished.
I think it’s very important to wait until we are no longer angry or emotional if that’s feeding aggression or clouding judgment. It happens to me where I know I outta step back from this one, send a kid to his room and chill out a minute.
On the opposite side, some behaviors need immediate action to really drive the connection between behavior and consequence. But only if you have a clear head. Temper tantrums I just don’t entertain them. You cry in your room or I pick you up by the ankle and take you to your room. Either way. Hysterical crying=in your room. Bye.
I always explain why they are receiving the punishment, how it could have been avoided or what would have been a better behavior, then we give the punishment. Because if you don’t explain why they are being punished what’s the point??? There is a purpose being punishment, its called teaching. Behavior correction.
I always remind my children that I don’t like giving spankings. I love them so much and Dad must make sure they remember that their behavior was wrong so they grow up to be great young men and great dads themselves. And this helps them remember.
For those who are against spanking, I think you are very wrong but you do you. When properly used, spanking is a very effective tool. We probably both agree a child must be trained to act properly and that requires both incentives and corrections. Even our Father in heaven agrees, as there is much scripture that very directly encourages proper physical course correction for our kids.
Punishment is not the only way we teach our kids. Positive reaction and encouragement are very effective tools for training our kids. They love seeing our eyes light up and being praised. We celebrate when they do something good as if they just won the super bowl MVP. We do want the child to have mostly happy memories growing up. They are not our little slaves to abuse and do whatever we want. They are extensions of ourselves and we want to bring them up right in the world.
The counterweight to discipline is love like I mentioned earlier. Our kids need to be able to come to us with anything and we need to remind them of that. That is where great communication comes into play. We need to listen to our kids. We need to talk and teach our kids. Even when it’s awkward or uncomfortable. We need to let our kids know they can always come to us and tell us anything. When they do come to us we need to control our reactions to what they say.
How we react can really scar a kid and impact their future self-worth and/or their ability to come to us again, especially in the more extreme circumstance. So extreme shock, rage, fear, or disbelief can send the wrong message to the kid in real critical time of need. We should control our expressions and emotions and let them speak. First and foremost, they need to know they are loved, regardless of anything else. They probably need a good hug. Then we can address the matter in a calm appropriate manner. In extreme scenarios, an immediate trip to a counselor may be necessary.
It really hard sometimes but spending one on one quality time with our kids is huge. Both mom and dad. I know that is hard for those of us with a full house. The first kid is pretty easy to get alone time with. The second kid makes time alone a bit more difficult. The third makes it even tougher! Beyond that, especially when the kids are close in age, good luck. Send me a letter telling me how you do it! One on one time is great for bonding. It’s a time to listen to them and maybe do a little teaching. It should to be with our attention on the kid and not watching a movie or some other distraction. A tea party, a walk, fishing, watching a scenic view, board games, cooking, hunting or a project are all good ways to spend uninterrupted quality time with our children.
With everything in parenting its hard to get in a one-off discussion on a topic and that’s really what happened here. But truly it’s hard to talk about discipline without talking about the love, encouragement, and trust on the other side of the equation because without it punishment is not effective long term.
Let me tell you the one thing regardless of your parenting style that drives me crazy. Absolutely bonkers. Because you are absolutely self-sabotaging any and I mean any attempt at having your kid respect your instructions. When you make a threat of consequences and your kids call your bluff, then you wiggle your way out of it. That’s something I am way to stubborn to do. When I say something I mean it. My yes means yes and my no means no. Do not make a threat if you can’t back it up. Be prepared to actually do what you say you are going to do. I’ve got a friend that threatens to throw away toys if his kid doesn’t do what they are supposed to do. The kid doesn’t and the toys stay. Shockingly that threat doesn’t work. The kid doesn’t listen. Because Dad is a liar. Kids call bluffs. Don’t bluff. Send a message of consistency and honesty. If you say it will happen. It needs to happen. Or you’re a liar, liar pant on fire. Have some freaking integrity.
Feel free to submit stories and thoughts to Townsend@TownsendRussell.com and of course Find us everywhere:
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I am Townsend Russell with 100% DAD.
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