Effective discipline for our children and teens
"You're grounded!" Man I hate to utter those words. Thank goodness I don't do it very often. For two reasons...the first is that I have two pretty good kids and the second is that I have learned that grounding punishes me every bit as much as my children. Parenting is nothing if not painful! But occasionally there is an action (a bad one) that requires a reaction (a correcting one) from myself and my husband.
Recently, we grounded our older teen for a bad grade. Seems a fair response to any parent. This kid is actually a good student, so to many (especially his friends) this may seem an extreme punishment. He's grounded until his grade improves.
Grounding really works with this kid. He has always hated to miss anything. Which is perhaps why he needs some extra time at home to study? Grounding works for most children of any age if it is enforced. However, if you have a game geek who likes nothing better than chilling on the sofa playing video games for hours, all you need to do is ground your baby from the PS3 or XBOX. You get the idea. It's not rocket science.
Here's the hard part, do I have the discipline to enforce the discipline? Will I cave? Will I let him out of jail early? Do not pass go, do not collect $200!
Again, this is a good kid. The process of pulling up his grade will likely take weeks. Can I put up with him being around that much? Can I stand for him to miss some really cool events at school and at church? Thank goodness, this kid is mostly in a good mood, but occasionally he will sulk and that breaks my heart. Did I mention that parenting is painful? I know I have to hang tough or this is all for nothing. Parenting is completely ineffective if parents aren't consistent. We have to "say what we mean and mean what we say." This is just as true with rewards as with punishment. If you promise a reward for whatever reason, you better deliver.
If you have children now, you likely were never "grounded" when you were a kid. Where did this idea come from? Who knows? It's similar to the "go to your room without supper" that many of us probably experienced. Seems like child abuse now doesn't it? What! No food? Somehow we survived. And, in just one evening, problems were solved, tempers cooled and all was right again with the world. <sigh>
I wonder constantly if our expectations are too high for our kids today. I wonder if we're doing everything we can to help these young people become everything they can be. And I always try to keep in perspective that although we say we are "raising children" what we are really trying to do is "raise adults". The goal is to raise our children to become compassionate, contributing, healthy adults. Also, I try to remember that <deep breath> C students rule the world. We're not looking for perfection here.
Ok, now I'm down off my high horse and back to reality. One thing I have found that helps me survive the groundings is to combine them with extra chores that benefit me. "Oh, you have nothing to do? You can clean out the attic" or the garage or whatever. "Time on your hands, kid?" Might as well put it to good use. Then momma is at peace because I can withstand any amount of grumblings if it means the attic/garage/basement gets cleaned by someone other than me.
The word "discipline" has always fascinated me. Often, it's a positive word. Many people are able to achieve great things because of their "discipline" whether it's a result of dedication to their brain or their body. Discipline leads to powerful results.
So how did discipline end up being such a negative word? I suppose it's because we associate it with punishment. Once, many years ago, we were part of a parents group at church who called themselves the "disciplinarians". I thought that was a hysterical name for a parents group until I realized it was meant to be a combination of effective parenting and being "disciples" of Christ.
The Bible is the ultimate "how to discipline your child" book and it doesn't mention groundings not even once. But it does mention love, over and over and over again. Is grounding an effective tool to discipline our children today? I say yes! But always, always, always with love.
This crazy momma strives to "live a life of love". Ephesians 5:1-2
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