I've read some really good parenting books lately and I would like to very highly recommend them to you. The first one is by John Rosemond and is titled "The Well Behaved Child: Discipline That Really Works". It is a no nonsense book of strategies and game plans to put you, the parent back in the driver's seat. What this book did not address was the relaionship aspect of parenting. So then I read "Loving Our Kids on Purpose" by Danny Silk. It is a very good book about building relationship with your child and really getting to know their heart. It talks about giving your kids age appropriate choices to help them learn responsibility and how to manage freedom. It had some very good stuff in there that was worth the read, but I also found it a little confusing after reading the John Rosemond book. When I read the Rosemond book, I was still in the "control my child" mindset.
Silk's book made me realize something very vital and that is that we control ourselves. I balked at this at first. What about submission to authorities? What about God controlling us; us controlling our kids? I've been able to make sense of it though. All my years of parenting I have tried my best to control my children and not myself. Parenting was based on mood. If I was in a bad mood, my kids wouldn't get away with much. If I was in a happy mood, I'd let more slide. I was not controlling myself. So what does this look like? It means that I tell my child to do something in the most loving tone. Then I walk away. Turn my back and do something else, not checking to see if they are going to do it. Not reminding, not threatening, not getting mad if it's not being done, not warning. I will know if it is done or not. Later, that child will ask me for something or to do something. And the answer will very lovingly and quietly be, "No, we are not going/you may not." Etc. "But why?" will come the reply. "I asked you to do (whatever it was) and it did not get done."
They don't like it, they will pitch a fit and be mad as h___. But you do not change your mind. If they appologize, you accept it and forgive. But you don't change your mind. If they go and do the chore, you do not change your mind. Why not? Because the offense was that they did not do what you asked the first and only time you said it. They are not missing out on something because the chore didn't get done, but because you told them to do it and they didn't listen to your word. This only works if you do this every time. As Kevin Leman says in his book "Have a New Kid by Friday", "B doesn't happen until A is completed." Over the next several days or weeks I am going to post more on this topic and some stories of success from our experiences.
But for now, when you want something done, say it once, say it quietly, say it with love in your voice, and say it with a sweet smile on your face. And if you're not heeded, that's ok. The next thing that comes along gets crossed off the list. No matter what it is. Oh, and don't bother telling them that their next request will be met with a "no." Say nothing and act normal and lovingly toward the child. They'll figure it out. This sounds harsh, but it is natural consequences. This is the real world. Why do we think that we can "silver platter" our kids their whole lives and give in to their every whim and then expect them to be good adults? That doesn't make any sense at all. It's like taking a carpentry course when you plan on becoming an accountant. Huh? If we really love our kids, we will be kind to them and let some of the consequences come their way instead of fixing everything for them. That way when life dishes out some tough situations, they will be properly equipped to deal with it well. They will feel competent to face life's trials. It's ok for them to figure it out if they miss the bus. If they ask for our help, of course we will be there for them, but that doesn't have to mean fixing the problem for them. Let them learn. They need to. And love them through it!
Remember: When faced with a disobedient child, you don't have control over what they do. But you do have control over what you do. And they will come around, try it and see :) No more fights, no more arguments, no more trying to make that kid do something. If he doesn't want to, ok, well I'm sorry, but I am not taking you to the basketball game today.