“I would love to see some posts about how to handle things like siblings fighting, whining, talking back, etc. I have found your materials the most helpful of all the parenting/homeschool resources I’ve used (and that’s been quite a bit!). I just need some fresh inspiration for practical consequences on how to handle these kinds of things. When the squabbles and such multiply across several children, it becomes rather stressful!” Dana
Dana’s children are 16, 14, 12, 8, 6, and 4. Dealing consistently with the negative behavior of children is stressful, wearying, and even discouraging. The results, though, make the investment worth the effort.
At the root of feeling stressed over those situations are our own expectations and perhaps even some self-pity. We want to deal with a problem and have it be solved forever. We hope to correct for wrong behavior and have it never reappear. We desire to have sweet, cheerful, cooperative, obedient, loving children. Those are our expectations. When that doesn’t happen, we feel discouraged, and the self-pity rolls in.
Accepting that bringing children to maturity is a process and then letting go of those unrealistic expectations, frees us to do our jobs as moms. That means breaking up the same squabbles, dealing with whining, and correcting for talking back—day after day after day. I think, though, you will find that if you do that, next year when you re-evaluate, you will see progress in your children.
The second basic tenet is that consistency is key. The actual consequence is less important than its consistent application. When you sometimes correct and other times don’t, the children learn to do something and hope it is a “no correction” moment for you. “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul” (Proverbs 29:17).
Finally, our attitude is foundational. When our children’s behavior causes us to be impatient, frustrated, sarcastic, or angry, we undermine anything we want to achieve through correction. We are behaving like the child who is to be corrected. “The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” (Proverbs 16:21).
I remember when Steve helped me learn to correct our children unemotionally and without discouragement. He suggested I think of what a policeman would do making a traffic stop. He said, “What if that policeman has pulled a motorist over for the third time in one day for the same offense? Will he get angry with the motorist? Will he feel like a failure as a policeman? Will he cry about it? Of course not. He will just write another ticket.” Steve encouraged me to metaphorically write my children tickets by unemotionally giving them consequences.
When you get your heart and thoughts in tune with child raising being a long-term investment with high-stake outcomes, it makes it easier to face your daily battles. If you are willing to tackle them without giving up, it is quite possible that in just a short time you will see significant improvement in your children. At the least, when your heart is set, you approach each day with confidence and peace that you are doing what God has called you to do. Then you proceed, asking Him for His strength and grace for each moment of your day and interaction with your children.