Hi mommas! Today I’m going to be covering the difference between correction and discipline. I have been working on a small series about questions that we ask ourselves practically everyday. For example, “Am I feeding the right amount of veggies?” “Is my child getting enough sleep?” And here’s the big one I ask myself everyday (and is what led me to write this article), “What is the correct way to discipline my child?”
There’s a lot of different techniques out there. Should I spank or not spank? Put them on timeout or ground them? Give your child space or try having a deep conversation (heart to heart)? Raise your voice or talk quietly, yet sternly? These questions can make our heads spin and we start second guessing ourselves, which could leave our house in complete disarray.
Disclaimer- I AM NOT a professional therapist, doctor, or expert on child rearing of any kind. These suggestions are simply ideas that have worked for my family. If you are looking for professional help, please discontinue reading now. But if you are interested in some helpful tips I encourage you to read on!
I generally stick to noncontroversial topics, like “how to spend quality time with your kids”, but I decided to stick my neck out there and let other moms struggling with this question know that they are not alone!
judge not their method of discipline
Honestly, every part of my being wanted to run away from the topic of correction and discipline as fast as I could. There is so much judgment surrounding it. I am not a judgmental person; everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and I also believe in “judge not lest you be judged”. But, I must admit, in my pre-motherhood days my judgmental side would occasionally surface. Especially when I heard a child screaming and crying in the grocery store. I would think, “What a total brat! Get ahold of your child lady!” I was raised to be on my best behavior in public; there was to be no goofing off, use inside voices, and definitely no tantrums!
My parents like to tell the story of me throwing my first and last tantrum in the grocery store; I was somewhere around 2 or 3. Apparently, I decided to let it be known that I wasn’t happy about not being allowed to get something I wanted. (Obviously I felt I couldn’t live without it as well.) So, my dad marched me to the car, gave my behind one firm lesson. Apparently my listening ears weren’t working that day because a spanking was always the last resort. From that point on they don’t remember having another issue with me in public.
But what do you do in those times when you have a cart full of groceries and three kids in tow? Dragging everyone across the parking lot is not an option. Over the years I have learned that sometimes it helps to not make a fuss about the fuss. Usually attention, even positive attention, can make the situation worse.
TweAk your methods
Now that I’m a mom I have somewhat adopted my parents version of discipline. They had a saying, “we’d much rather get through to your head than your behind”. I whole heartedly believe in this method! But for my own family I had to tweak my parents overall method of-one punishment fits all. That method may have worked for my siblings and I, but has zero affect on my own kids; so I started “individualizing” punishments.
My youngest responds better to an eye level, quiet yet stern approach. My oldest son (twin A) gets embarrassed very easily; removing him from the situation and addressing the problem one on one yields a better result. As for my daughter (twin B), she requires a little more action; a quiet chat doesn’t always work. Finding a method that works for each individual child over a universal method will produce better results. (Trust me, I learned this the hard way.) When my twins started the “Terrible Two’s” stage I immediately went for the raised voice and pat to the rear.
Needless to say, my stress levels were through the roof and I seriously considered buying stock in throat drops! My mom would try to give me advice and scriptures to read (apparently she was trying to keep me from making her mistakes). But new moms (especially me) think they know it all and don’t need anyones advice. I was dead WRONG! A year or two later, after my third child (second pregnancy) came along I realized my method wasn’t working. I was exhausted and needed help. So, I lowered my pride and asked my parents for advice. I also talked to my husband (who was fed up with my loudness and irritable attitude as well). And I did A LOT of soul searching. My kids were not the problem, I was.
learn the DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CORRECTION AND DISCIPLINE
The first thing I worked on was learning that there IS a difference between correction and discipline. Correction is what I now call a learning moment. We don’t expect our toddlers to know how to brush their teeth the first time or automatically know how to eat with a fork; these are things we teach them. Knowing right and wrong is no different; good behavior is something that needs to be learned.
Here’s an example of one of those learning moments:
My youngest son, who was two at the time, decided he wanted to help mommy by cleaning the toilet. (I’m sure you can see where this going.) He grabbed his toy cleaning supplies, put his mop in the potty and started cleaning. (More like splashing)
When I heard him giggling I went to investigate….I wanted to come unglued! It took every ounce of patience and sanity to not revert back to the “raised voice”. There was toilet water all over the walls, the shower curtain, the floor, and somehow he managed to get it on the ceiling! (Thankfully the water was clean, I had just cleaned the bathroom 5 minutes earlier.) He stood there looking at me so proud of himself. I took a deep breath, cleaned it up, then had a chat with him. I reminded myself during the cleanup process that how was he to know this wasn’t okay; after all he had just watched me do the same thing (minus the mess). However, I did make it clear to him that if it was to happen again there would be consequences.
The first thing I tell my kids before a chat is “you’re not in trouble”. (Every kid thinks that a “chat” is a bad thing). This keeps them from over reacting, getting mad, and shutting down. Because once that happens the learning moment is lost. So, I then follow up with a question, “Why did you think that was okay?” Try to let your child explain themselves then give them the reasons why we don’t do or say those things, their “wrong doing” may have been completely innocent.
CONNECT CORRECTION with DISCIPLINE
My definition of discipline is, “a learning moment followed by a punishment for doing something you KNEW you were NOT allowed to do.”
Rules and boundaries are made to keep our kids safe. I do not believe in letting things slide; I have found consistency is key. But I also believe that discipline does not have to be extreme (though, there may be times when extreme is necessary). However, there are times when our kiddos are tired, on edge, and act out. (Very understandable, adults do too.) But, that does not give them free reign to be disobedient or disrespectful. I always tell my kiddos, “It’s natural to get upset and angry. What matters is how you react in those moments.” Connecting the strategies of correction and discipline makes your methods more impactful!
LEARN BY TRIAL AND ERROR
Before I started figuring out “individualized” punishments there was one punishment that went for everyone. The dreaded CORNER!
My parents used this tactic when I ran my mouth too much in disrespect, even at the age of 18! (I am so embarrassed to admit that!) But I soon learned that the corner did not phase my youngest and the twins simply did their time yet learned absolutely nothing.
I switched their punishment to sitting on the edge of their bed. I’d shut the door so they were away from all distractions, and they could think about what they had done and how they were going to fix it. I thought for sure this would work. It was one of my punishments growing up (generally it would come right before the swat on the rear). I would be so sorry by the time my dad came in for a chat. But once again this didn’t have the same affect on my kiddos, they thought it was either nap time or a good time to read a book.
Pure frustration had set in at this point. But I had one last hope- snack restriction! (No one said discipline couldn’t be creative.) This one works for all three! My kiddos may be picky eaters when it comes to veggies but not when it comes to all things sugary!
The first time I took snacks away for the day they were completely devastated.
However, even though it’s one that works well I don’t use it super often. I don’t want to wear out my trump card!
SET THE EXAMPLE
Having said all of that and giving my two cents, I want you to know that my kids are not the definition of perfection and I am not a perfect mom by any means. There are days when all my kiddos want to do is fight, sass, and cause terror, which in turn causes me to lose my cool. In those times though I have learned to apologize (Yes, I literally tell my kids “I’m sorry”). We, as parents, are to set the example (monkey see, monkey do) and if we can’t lower our pride to say sorry for doing something we correct our kids for doing, then what are we actually teaching them? I try to set the example by being the example.
CORRECTION AND DISCIPLINE BUILDS BONDS
Correction AND discipline is about building a relationship, a bond, with the little life you created. A time to teach and mold them into the person they will one day become. That’s why it is so important that they see you as the hard-working, loving mom that you are, who occasionally messes up but who also fixes those mistakes; not as an all powerful goddess who is critiquing their every move, making them scared to even speak to you.
This part of motherhood is definitely stressful and can feel like your running on a hamster wheel at times, but staying consistent and not letting those learning moments pass you by will all pay off in the end. I’m finding that out more and more as my kids get older; spankings are few and far between and they are actually comprehending and remembering the lessons we are teaching them.
For example, just the other day my daughter came home from school and told on herself. Apparently her teacher had to ask her more than once the do something (we strive towards “listening the first time” to show respect). I was so proud of her for knowing and admitting that she had done wrong. (She’s usually the one who tries to hide it or blame it on her brothers) She voluntarily decided to apologize to her teacher the following day; she also promised it would never happen again. My daughter is not perfect, she doesn’t always listen to me (even on the third time), but in this instance it’s the thought that counts!
CORRECT AND DISCIPLINE OUT OF LOVE
Our hard work pays off ladies, we just have to hang in there because it may take a few years to see the results! Raising children is not just clothing, feeding, and making sure they graduate high school, it’s so much more. How we bring up our children now will stick with them for the rest of their lives and will in turn influence how they bring up their own children. We hold the future in our hands everyday!
Trust yourself, show love, and enjoy motherhood!!
P.S.- One last tidbit my parents taught me (and probably the most important)….Always correct and discipline out of LOVE, not anger!!
For more parenting tips check out my Pinterest Board– Raising A Family.