Hello friends! I hope you are having lovely summers full of sweet sunshine and lazy pool days... with the "occasional" poopie diaper, meal planning mishap and meltdown mixed in, of course :) Because we all know that motherhood is beautiful, yet messy. We all know that it's not rainbows and unicorns all the time. But we also know that it is something that is sacred and oh so precious. So I hope that you have found ways to enjoy these perfectly imperfect (sometimes LOOONG) summer days with your kiddos.
Today I want to shed some light onto a discipline technique that we are trying in our home. Sometimes I hesitate to write anything about marriage or parenting because, let's face it, I am no expert. I never want to come off as knowing everything there is to know about parenting. If you are looking for an expert, there are plenty of others out there that you can listen to. But I simply wanted to share about this technique and show how we recently implemented it in our home. Perhaps it will inspire you to test it out if you're dealing with disobedient children... but I'm sure nobody else is dealing with children who disobey... *wink wink*
A few years ago a friend suggested that I try the "no-nag technique." According to this technique, you simply tell your child to do something one time, and when they don't do it, you enforce a consequence. You do not tell them to do something over and over again. You do not try to control your child's behavior by threatening their lives if they don't do it. You simply say it once, walk away, and then enforce a consequence if they disobey.
According to Dr. Kevin Leman in Have a New Kid By Friday, when you give your child reminder after reminder, you are actually training them to ignore your voice. If you count to 3, you are training them to disobey for those three seconds. So this technique trains them to hear your voice the first time and obey. It's called "first time obedience". When they are 21 and their boss asks them to do something, they are going to need to learn to do it the first time or they will get fired. I'd much rather my child lose out on a reward at home at 5 years old than to lose out on a job opportunity in his/her adult years.
I have recently trained my older two children to fold and put away the towels. My 5 year old does the big towels, and my 3 year old does the washcloths and hand towels. Yesterday morning I set the towel load on the couch and asked them both to stop what they were doing and to please fold the towels and put them away. I DID give a gentle reminder that there are consequences when we disobey our parents, and I left it at that. One of my children (let's say Child A) stopped and completed the task right away, my other (let's say Child B) chose not to.
So what I would typically do in the past would be to nag, give multiple reminders, and try to force my child into obedience. But today, I simply let my child disobey. For the moment, my child felt that they had won. They didn't have to do the task and they got to keep playing...
...but fast forward to 11:45am. It was time to leave to go to a friend's house. As my children were racing to the car, I stopped Child B and said, "Where are you going, Sweetie?" This child responded that they were getting in the car to go to our friend's house. I responded, "Oh honey, I'm sorry but you can't go yet because you still have towels to fold." And with that, Trice loaded up the other kiddos into the car and they left for the friend's house while I stayed back with Child B until the task was completed. At first there was some shock and despair, but the task was then completed VERY efficiently!
The hardest part about this is that you will WANT to nag. You will stare at those towels and get the itch to ask them to do it again. But as moms, we have to die to that desire to control our kids' behavior, and instead empower them to make good and wise choices. We always want our kids to feel like the choice is theirs. In our house we often say, "You can choose to obey, or you can choose to disobey and face the consequence that comes with it. The choice is yours." This takes the "mean parent" out of the equation and instead lets them see that by making a poor decision, it was THEY that chose the consequence.
An alternative method of enforcing this would be to "pay" your other child to complete the task that your first child didn't do. This payment of course, comes out of the disobedient child's allowance. We don't do allowance just yet, but when we start, it will be fun (fun?!) to test this out.
Of course, with this discipline technique, you will need to use wise discernment. For instance, if your child doesn't listen when you say not to go into the street, you're not going to let them get hit by a car to learn a real consequence. You're going to yank their little bodies away from the street so that the car that they can't see doesn't run them over. But you can also set a clear boundary and let your child know that if they go beyond the sidewalk again, they will not be able to play outside for the rest of the day. And when they disobey, the consequence must be enforced.
TOY JAIL EXAMPLE
Another real life example of this technique is implementing a "toy jail." When we ask our kids to clean their toys, we set a timer for a reasonable amount of time, and if they have not cleaned their rooms within that timeframe, we simply go in and put whatever toys are still out in "toy jail." They can then "unlock" a few toys at a time after they show us that they are responsible enough to clean up after themselves.
LISTS AND SCHEDULES
One last thing I have found to be helpful is to have lists and schedules printed out and in their sight so that they understand what the expectations are. This week we started implementing "reminder sheets" at the back door. I got tired of reminding our kids to grab their things on their way in and out of the house. So I posted these signs on each door with a STOP sign at the top, and it is their responsibility to look over their tasks and make sure they are completed. I added little symbols to the bottom for my 3 year old since she cannot read just yet. The consequences are pretty natural... if they don't grab their cup, they get thirsty. If they don't bring their Bible sheet back to church, they won't get their reward dollars from church. If they don't bring their toys inside, they won't get to bring toys in the next time, etc.
WHAT ABOUT GRACE?
As we parent, we want to reflect the loving discipline of our Father in Heaven. And at times, our kiddos are going to need grace. This is where it is important as a parent to let the Holy Spirit guide us for each child in each situation. We do not demand perfection out of our children, and we understand that sometimes they are just going to have bad days. One thing that our mentors taught us is to use the phrase, "Let's try that again." Sometimes when our child says "no" or is disrespectful, a simple use of this phrase is all he needs to remind him to do the right thing. But if he continues to disobey, then it's time to discipline him. But when using grace in our discipline, it is important to make sure that our children are still receiving the proper training that they need instead of feeling like "grace" is their copout.
I hope this post was helpful, and that it gave some real life examples of ways to implement the no-nag technique. We have not done this perfectly, but we love seeing how quickly it works when we do implement it. Now we just need to work on being consistent in it... but that's another topic for another day ;)