Thursday, March 14, 2013

I'm Gonna Wash Your Mouth Out with Soap

What I've Been Reading (No. 2)

by Phoebe Farag Mikhail

By Boy's Life (Boys' Life - Apr 1937 - Page 38)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I'm talking about that bad word discipline again today, but this time, in the context of children. As I mentioned in a previous post about the topic, we often think of discipline as a bad word because, when it comes to children, it refers to how we deal with children when they misbehave. It brings up memories of the ways we were "disciplined" as children, and the ways we try to do differently (or the same) with ours.
I'm trying to think about discipline with my children a little differently. I've shared how I'm trying to link discipline with desire for myself. How do I do that with my children? Specifically,

1- How do I help my children desire good behavior?
2- How do I help my children develop the self-control they need to achieve their own goals in the future?

One helpful resource I have found for the first question is one of the best parenting books I have ever read, The Five Love Languages of Children, by Gary Thomas and Ross Campbell. In it, they discuss what the five love languages are, how they specifically manifest themselves with children, and how parents can discover their child's love language. Numerous behavior problems can be preemptively solved when we learn how to show our children how much we love them.

I've seen my own children respond much better to me and my instructions to them when my husband and I intentionally show them love in their language. Once, when my son was giving me a hard time getting dressed and ready to go, his dad got on the phone with him and gave him a few words of affirmation, one of the five love languages. Within minutes my son had fully cooperated with me, and we were ready to go without frustration.

The book also has a chapter specifically about discipline and the love languages. I've read many parenting books, and The Five Love Languages of Children tops my must-read list. I refer to it again and again.*

Recent studies, like this one reported on NPR, are proving the importance of instilling self-control and self-discipline in children for their future success. Children that could demonstrate better self-control in childhood were more financially successful later in life and had fewer health problems.

Instilling self-control in my children seemed to me like a tall order until I started coming across parenting blogs that share some very useful ideas, such as this great post from One Perfect Day about helping children as young as 4 years old manage their own screen time. Each day, this mother gives her toddler 9 cards that each represent 10 minute segments of screen time. With a few rules, her son has been able to regulate his own time playing Angry Birds on her tablet, with fewer struggles when his time was up.

What ideas and resources do you have for helping children desire good behavior and instilling self-discipline in children? Please share them in the comments.  

*This post contains affiliate links. That means if you choose to purchase the book mentioned in the blog, I will get a commission if you click through my links. I will never post an affiliate link to a book unless I have read it myself, found it useful, and worth sharing.