We wanted to share these tips that we have heard over the years from many, many sources. These three tips are some of the best that we have heard and that have been the most effective with our children.
Please know, we are posting these as a couple and family that is so far from perfect. We have our struggles…. daily. We are far from perfect parents. That’s where God’s grace is shed in our lives and poured over into our children. It’s by His strength that we can do anything good for our children. So please don’t read the following as “we know exactly what we are talking about and we are parenting experts.” This is far from the truth.
We love our children immensely and want to raise them correctly in love, grace and truth. And these tips have been an encouragement and reminder on what we can do better. These tips have also yielded the greatest results in our personal family life when we do apply them diligently.
Please note: these are not the only great tips out there as there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, more!
1. Give more love than discipline and love while disciplining.
When you are raising a child at any stage, there is a lot of edifying discipline and learning that takes place for the child (and the parent). And then if you have multiple children, there are some days in which you feel like you are admonishing All.Day.Long.
It can be exhausting and frustrating. But one thing that we were advised is to show more love than discipline. This does NOT replace discipline as a child needs to grow and learn by gentle admonishment – don’t skip that as you won’t do your child any favors, and in fact, discipline is a form of love. But what it simply means is if you are spending so much time a day in loving admonishment and discipline, then you need to spend even more time showing love outside of the loving discipline in other ways.
Read an extra book, listen to them tell you an extra story, joke with them, hug them, cuddle with them, play with them, listen to them, drop what you are doing and look at them, break out in random song and dance and random hugs, kisses and smiles!
And be sure to also lovingly discipline with grace, gentleness and discipline the right things. Don’t discipline just because you are mad. You discipline for disobeying. If they break your vase – perhaps it’s not a disciplinable act. Now if they broke it because they were playing baseball in the house and they were told not to, discipline them for playing baseball in the house. See the difference?
We have this distinction happen a lot. When you have 5 little kids, accidents happen and it’s hard not to get mad. But this can even be taught amongst kids themselves. As an example, my kids made clay figures the other day. They have been drying out for the past few days. The 5-year old wanted to paint hers while the other kids wanted to play outside.
Well, a few minutes later, one of the other kids comes in and finds the little sister painting her cat sculpture. I was in the room and saw that she was about to blow a top. I gently grabbed her shoulders and got on her level, looked at her straight in the eyes, told her to take a moment to take a deep breath and encouraged her to not be angry with her sister as she didn’t know and to show her grace – even if she thought it was the best sculpture she had made and was looking forward to painting it herself. Her sister was simply mistaken about whose was whose and she didn’t want to say or do anything that she would regret.
It is moments like those that remind me again that I need to do the same as I don’t have someone stopping me before “blowing a top” over something innocent. But it is a reminder as parents that we too need to stop, take a deep breath and really think about what we are about to say or do and how we should really handle each situation – basically, being very thoughtful about our words and actions before we act.
2. Be strict with your toddlers and become more lenient as time goes on.
We love this one and had honestly not thought about rebellious teens in this sense.
Basically, a common parent trap is that we allow our toddlers to make decisions – whether multiple choice or not. We will ask things like “what do you want for lunch?” or “what do you want to wear?” etc. instead of just saying, “we’re going to eat this for lunch” or “you are going to wear these lovely clothes today.” etc. And then as they get older, instead of allowing them to slowly make decisions, we tend to get stricter with them about making choices. Then by the time your child becomes a teen and wants to be treated like an adult, we start treating them like toddlers with little or no ability to be responsible and deciding for them what they will do/eat, etc., which then in turn makes a teen more likely to rebel. They were created to mature as time goes on and be taught at a young age how to make responsible decisions and slowly given the reins over the years and then making decisions as teens under your supervision and guidance, so by the time they leave home, they are actually responsible adults.
In short, be strict with your toddlers by you making decisions and then slowly give them the reins, allow them to make decisions as teens under your supervision and guidance and then you may have a less rebellious, more mature teen and ultimately a responsible adult. Don’t do it backwards and give your toddler freedoms and then become tight and strict when they are teens.
3. Repent to them and remind them that you are not perfect and to forgive you.
This is probably the most important advice for our personal lives. When you are broken, humbled and repenting to your child, your child’s respect of you increases. They see you as a loving parent that is not perfect and can admit mistakes and make amends. Relationships of all kinds are strengthened when there is repentance and forgiveness from all sides. We do this as spouses, friends, church members, neighbors, co-workers, and often with a better relationship than before the hurt feelings or disagreement.
If you have wronged your child, you owe him/her your apology and seek forgiveness. It’s fine and in fact respectable for your child to see you in a less than perfect way. You will fail them and if anything, you will certainly fail them by not admitting your failures.
Don’t be a dictating tyrant, but a humbled, loving, gracious parent. I think that you will find your children will respect and listen more once they see you this way.
This has been one of the best things for our relationships with our kids (and each other!).
Our hope and prayer is that these tips are an encouragement to you just as they have been for us!