You’ve endured months of morning sickness, a pregnancy that has left your body forever changed, barely survived a painful, traumatic delivery…you’ve fumbled through breastfeeding, figured out sleep schedules, made the tough call on whether or not to vaccinate, could describe in detail every baby product on the market and figured out how to survive on little to no sleep yet still be a functioning individual during the day…the hard part is over right?!
Things were finally getting good…
You’ve been enjoying the recent months of staring into that precious face in disbelief that your body could have made such a thing. You’ve held that sweet little miracle bundle of joy closely, prayed for and sung to her almost every night. You’ve cuddled, you’ve bonded, you’ve laughed and watched him make his first steps! You’ve celebrated his first birthday and are excited about the future of having more children….
Something isn’t working anymore…
That sweet little angel blessing from heaven above has somehow turned into a little fire-breathing, fit-throwing hellion…seemingly overnight…and you’re not quite sure what to do. You’re lil’ “muffin face sweet cake” isn’t so sweet anymore and is often melting down, whining, has somehow learned what the word “no” means, can (and does) scream it at the top of his lungs, and you are at the end of yourself.
You’re beginning to realize that the true work of motherhood has only just begun and the thought of adding more little people into your home leaves you frozen with shock and a great deal of fear. Each day you think in your mind, “If I can only make it until nap time”…and then after nap time is over, “If I can only make it until bed time”…and most days, when the lights finally go out, it’s all you can do to muster up enough strength to crawl in your bed and cry yourself to sleep.
As the tears stream down you wonder…”Is this just MY kid? Where do I even begin? Is there any hope? Who could I ask for help? Does anybody have any wisdom? There’s gotta be a book…but which one? I don’t have time to waste on figuring out which book is good and which one is bad…I’m too tired to even think through what to do…because tomorrow is coming and I’ve got to get some sleep before this all starts up again…”
In case the thought has crossed your mind as to how exactly I’m reading yours, let me assure you I’m not reading your mind.
I’m sharing my own.
I know this story all so well because I’ve lived it many days over. I’m right there in the middle of my own parenting journey too and in all honesty I should be getting some much needed sleep before my own new day begins again tomorrow…
But sweet mama, let me tell you…there’s hope.
I can say with all confidence I know what to do with the terrible twos now. Life is like that isn’t it? You get through something difficult and learn a ton, and then you realize if you could go through it again you’d probably do things a bit better.
And that’s just what I did.
Like Ground Hogs Day.
My life just kept repeating.
Toddler after toddler after toddler….
I just kept having kids until I nailed the terrible twos!
Yep, I’ve got this down pat now!
That’s a TOTAL lie.
I haven’t nailed the terrible twos at all…
But I sure have learned A LOT along the way. And if any part of my life will bring any benefit whatsoever to anybody else’s life then I believe it’s worth the time, and an extra late night or two, to write it down.
The Bottom Line
I now know who is in control of our household. And here’s a hint, it is NOT my two year old. The methods and systems we use now weren’t put in place overnight and it’s not some magic pixie dust wisdom that was sprinkled on me or my kids when I gave birth. I feel confident in where I am now because of all of the millions of ways I have failed first.
I’ve spent years compiling info, reading books, learning through observation and interviewing moms I respect. And although I think my computer generated blog post title is catchy I can say with all of my years of experience that there is no “complete” guide to motherhood out there anywhere. I feel like I could write an entire book on exactly how to handle a tantrum and exactly how to end a melt down, with maybe even a chapter or two on how to PREVENT them and it still wouldn’t be enough.
It takes grace. And a lot of it.
Not to mention that every single child, mother, family and household is different.
But, even with all of those missing factors taken into account I believe there are a few things that can at least get this convo going that might bring some benefit to you, your child, and your household.
So, with that said I’ll try to break this down as simply as I can…let start with one of the biggest hot topics in parenting…
To Spank Or Not Spank?
The issue of whether or not to spank is so well articulated in the book Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. If you are a Christian and are on the fence as to whether or not to spank please read his book. Or if you are wondering what the difference is between worldly spankings verses biblical heart focused discipline I would highly, highly (did I mention highly?!), highly recommend beginning with this book. Tedd Tripp does a far better job than I ever could at spelling it all out so if you’re not sure whether or not to spank please stop reading my blog right this second and click HERE and have his book sent to you…and then stay up ALL night reading it. 🙂
What Godly Discipline is NOT
Godly discipline is not just about a bunch of rules. Those who attempt to simply create standards, or measures, or rules to abide by miss the hearts of their children. To simply use a method of any kind to control your child’s behavior merely affects the outward…and thus begins the biggest lie we can ever teach our children, that acting right means they are good people.
Teaching our children to act right does not mean we are raising them right.
As a family we have never used a sticker chart or an award system of any kind to merit good behavior. My kids get enough of that at public school. Godly discipline is two sinful parents taking seriously their God given role to faithfully, repeatedly, tirelessly, and unreservedly teach, instruct, and train up our children in the way they should go.
Biblical discipline is not an uncontrolled use of physical punishment for a bad deed, rather it is training in righteousness and instruction of the Lord.
Your Child Is Born Sinful.
Your child is a sinner. No, you’re not the only parent with a child that throws massive temper tantrums in the middle of a grocery store! And even if your baby is cuter than the Baby Gap Poster Child your child is still a sinner. Not “strong willed”, not “has a personality quirk”, not a “more lively demeanor” than the next child…it’s called sin. It only takes a couple of toddlers at the park who all want the same toy to show us what is bound up in those little hearts. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
All includes….all. Me and my kids too. You and your kids too.
What IS Biblical Discipline?
Biblical discipline gets to the heart of the problem. We don’t need to focus as much on the outward actions so much as we do the inward cleansing our children so desperately need. We are told in Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Put simply, what is in the heart determines the behavior. Proverbs 4:23 says, “above all else guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.”
Discipline is Only Half of the Problem…or even less
God has called us to instruct our children, not simply discipline them. In Ephesians 6:4 we are told to ” Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” I wrote about this in a sort of playful way with the How to Train Your Dragon Part 1 and Part 2, but training is serious business that takes a lot of time, a lot of consistency and a heck of a lot of work.
“Discipline” meaning correction from the rod, is only half of our job and I find that the second half of “instruction” requires far more effort than the discipline part….so much so that I usually tell parents that my job is 80% training/instruction and 20% discipline/reproof. I am a firm believer that you should never discipline a child for a skill that hasn’t been taught.
Instruction and teaching must never ever be separated from discipline.
Proverbs 29:15 we learn “the rod and reproof give wisdom but a child who gets his own way bring shame to his mother.” (Was there ever a more perfect verse to describe that moment of a total meltdown right in the middle of Target with every other mom watching?!)
So I know what you might be thinking…This is all big theory and I need something PRACTICAL! Just tell me what to do to fix this right now!
And just hang on a sec…I’m getting there! If you’ve spent any time around this blog at all you’ll know that there’s always a WHY before a HOW TO. And that’s most assuredly on purpose… 🙂
For Post #2 click HERE