Thursday, July 28, 2011

Discipline and Communication

I have been reading Shepherding a Child's Heart the last few days for refreshing and encouragement as I try to deal with Sawyer's willful misbehavior.  I really love this book, mostly because it gets to the heart of disobedience and discipline.  Discipline is not about correcting behavior, but about the heart--what motivates the behavior.  You don't just want your kid not to push his brother; you want to deal with the selfishness and the anger at the heart causing him to push his brother.

I will say that this book is probably not for everyone.  It comes from a Biblical perspective, so if you're not basing things on that, everything it says flows from that.  He also is a proponent of spanking, though the majority of the book is NOT about that, but about the nature of your child and the nature of communication and discipline.  I think that even if you don't spank, the principles would help you.

As an example, I read a chapter last night talking about the different kinds of communication.  Tedd Tripp says that most of the time, we parents are bad listeners, and bad communicators.  We don't really listen to our kids or take the time to engage, and often we use one type of communication--correcting or rebuking.  For a richer relationship, deepening respect and love, he pulled these types of communication from Proverbs:

Encouragement- helping your child find hope and courage in God
Correction- bringing your child into conformity with a standard
Rebuke- censuring behavior
Entreaty- earnest pleading with your child to act in wisdom and faith
Instruction- providing a lesson to help understand the world
Warning- putting your child on guard in terms of a danger
Teaching- imparting knowledge to your child
Prayer- communicating with God

That's a lot of different types of talk!  He also says that we need to slow down and listen, not just planning what we want to say next.  Really asking questions to get our kids talking and showing them that we CARE about what they have to say.  When our kids are teens, he says, and we want desperately for them to talk to us, if we have set this foundation early so they know we care, it will be easier.  In theory.

In any case, I feel somewhat encouraged, as I know I talk a lot with Sawyer and I do listen.  I do a lot of those types of communication, but just looking at the list helps me to think more consciously about them.   I try to remember when we are in these tough times that standing firm now is better than backing down from being tired and frustrated.  I imagine Sawyer as a teenager, wanting his own way, and how much harder that fight will be if we don't stand firm as authorities now.  Temper tantrums at three are awful.  Temper tantrums at sixteen?  Much worse.

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