Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rough Day

Well, today went downhill after the dentist appointment. Grace tried to test the limits and boundries all day. It seemed like every little thing I have ever told her "no" about she decided to try again just to see what would happen. Her list of offenses included: throwing food on the ground at mealtime, fussing constantly about every little thing that didn't go her way, stealing toys from her friends during our playdate, not obeying when I asked her to do something, and the biggie: unbuckling her seatbelt and getting out of her carseat while we were driving. (This warranted an immediate pull-over and spanking).

I felt like a broken record all day long. I would correct her verbally and if she didn't obey, I disciplined her. Our discipline procedure includes reviewing the commandment she broke, spanking, asking forgiveness of the person she hurt/disobeyed, praying, and hugging. Then we do our best to start over on a clean slate.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised when our children disobey. After all, human nature is sinful, and it is "natural" for children to do what they want, when they want. Usually this is done without thought of consequences. Todd and I feel that it is our job as parents is to teach Grace the ways of the Lord and discipline her when she disobeys. This should be done not out of anger towards our child, but out of a deep love that longs for her to see the mercy and grace of our Lord through us when we discipline her. We feel that our discipline should be immediate, concise, loving, and forgiving. We are constantly praying that God will help us to do this without anger and emotions getting in the way.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and completely contradict my training as a professional counselor. We choose not to use the "time out" system when we discipline Grace. I have used the time-out system countless times as a teacher and a counselor in the school system, and this is what I have found:

1. Putting a child in time-out creates another opportunity for the child to misbehave while in time-out, complicating the original issue that put them in time-out. (i.e. refusing to go to the designated time-out area, screaming, yelling, cursing, physically damaging self or property).
2. The child's anger often increases during the time-out period. Contrary to what you tell them, they do not "think about what they have done." Usually, they think about how mad they are to be caught and how they are going to get away with it next time.
3. It takes too long. By the time you factor in the power struggle and the extra misbehaviors that crop up during time-out, the whole process wastes time that could have been spent in non-discipline-related activities.
4. It is taught that in a time-out period, there should be no communication between the adult and child. However, immediately after a misbehavior is the most critical time for the adult to communicate and teach the child in love. I am reminded of the Psalm of David which says, "Cast me not away from Thy presence. Keep not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and renew a right spirit within me."

I am thankful that tough days like today don't happen very often. I am thankful that, overall, we see the fruits of our discipline and teaching in Grace. I pray that God will grant me patience and a spirit that is slow to anger (contrary to my nature!) when I am dealing with her misbehavior.

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