Mary Coleman: Raising up a child

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, November 19th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Here’s Mary Coleman now on how to discipline children.

MARY COLEMAN, COMMENTATOR: All moms experience that beautiful moment when our sweet toddlers place blocks into a bucket at our request. We clap real hard—and so do they. It’s a happy-mom moment, like the first time they pee in the potty. We parade around the house, call Nana, and distribute M&Ms.

Am I right?

Sadly, this is a short season in the life of a toddler. The joy of obedience doesn’t last long. In no time, toddlers become more concerned with having their own way than making mama smile. It’s frustrating.

But let me encourage you. Don’t talk yourself out of how much your little ones want to make you happy. It may not seem that way when they throw fits. Their resistance to you is not a sign that you are a bad parent. It’s not a sign you need to change. It’s more likely a sign they need to change.

And change they will, if you commit to train. Your children will respond well because you are the source of all the good things in their lives. They hate to disappoint those who consistently express love.

Just remember that love is not all about being easy and soft. If it was, we would never bother to potty train. Most toddlers resist that at first, too, but eventually they catch on—because we stick with it until they do.

The same is true about all the skills we want our little ones to master—like taking a “no,” sitting still, or coming when called.

I honestly believe children never outgrow their desire to please their parents. We parents simply give up because training is work and we don’t want to follow through with discipline.

We get tired. We’re insecure and scared. We hate to make our kids cry. I get it. I have been there—times seven.

But we parents have to stop wearing diapers and grow into our identity as disciplinarians. And we can do this! The same determination we have to ensure children use the potty can transfer to other skills and behaviors children need in order to be well-adjusted adults.

So we determine bedtime and screen time.

We define kindness and respect.

We define the chores, academic expectations, and curfews.

It’s what parents do for 18 long years.

Here are two keys to help you get there:

  1. Choose your methods of discipline in advance: time out, removal of privileges, or whatever is appropriate for your home and your child’s age. Read everything you can get your hands on. And don’t judge other parents who choose something different. You’re not raising their children, and they’re not raising yours.
  2. Be consistent. When your child disobeys, discipline every time, just as you would change his undies every time he has an accident. Don’t ignore the stinky trials that come with training children.

Develop and carry out a discipline plan when your children are young, and they will grow up strong and grateful.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Mary Coleman.

(Photo/Runar Pedersen Holkestad, Flickr)

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