I wanted to give you a real-life “I can” example since last month we discussed the differences between an “I can” and “I can’t.” Here’s the problem a young mom was facing.
My husband and I have eight children ranging from 13 down to 4 months. This most recent pregnancy was very difficult, and I spent most of the nine months in bed. My older kids were fabulous and stepped up to fill in the gap. It was such a blessing and a joy to see the fruit of our parenting labors in such a real and tangible way.
However, my 6, 4, and 2-year-olds have acquired terrible habits, which we are having a very difficult time fixing. It feels a bit like all we’re doing right now is disciplining those three. This is having a negative impact on our relationships and the overall atmosphere of our home.
Any wisdom you might have would be so greatly appreciated. Courtney
My encouragement to you is to stay the course with your little ones. While it feels like all you are doing is disciplining, it really isn’t. And the time you are investing in the discipline will reap rewards. You know that already from your older children.
I think one key is to eliminate expectations of what you wanted to do that you aren’t or of how your children should respond but aren’t. Simply go at your task of discipline and correction with the grit, determination, and love of the Holy Spirit’s power.
The other key is to maintain a meek and quiet spirit. Don’t let the circumstances discourage you. Discipline with gentleness but firmness and consistency, knowing that that fruit will come. Having a chart with consequences for common offenses is key. It helped me be consistent, not get angry or discouraged, and not to have to be frustrated trying to come up with the consequences.
Your baby is 4 months old. Those months are the months of adjusting to life with a newborn. Now that you are probably getting more sleep and your household running better, you will have the time to invest in the 2, 4, and 6-year-olds’ behavior.
I think with a focus on the younger children’s behavior, and your attitude of tackling it with resolve and joy, you will soon be seeing the changes you desire to see.
Within a few days, Courtney responded:
I read and re-read your e-mail several times. I spoke with my husband about your suggestions/insights last night, and he agreed with everything you said. I really needed to hear what you were saying because sometimes I get so stuck in the moment that I miss the big picture.
Today went beautifully for a few reasons. First, the younger kids and I made a rules’ poster that clearly reminded them of how to love their siblings. Then, as you mentioned, my attitude was better because I didn’t take their behaviors personally. They are children who need guidance, and I’ve been entrusted to aid them on their journey to maturity and toward Christ. My expectations were kept in check.
The final key was that I was consistent at making them sit at the table when they made a poor or unloving decision. By the end of the day, my two-year-old made a bad decision, walked over to the dining room table, sat down, and said, “Mommy, set my time.” They were hungry for the normalcy to return. There is safety in Mom and Dad being in control of the day, and they needed that to happen. I truly enjoyed my younger kids for the first time in too long. Courtney
Did you see Courtney’s “I can” attitude when presented with some simple suggestions? I loved how quickly she implemented change, and the results she experienced right away. “I can” or “I can’t”? Which one are you? Which one do you want to be?
Trusting in Jesus,