Friday, November 6, 2009

Don't Make Me Count To Three....

Sound familiar? With two young children, I find myself at times becoming a desperate discipliner...what does that mean?

Enter Example:

In the thrift store.... 1 year old is hanging on the metal bars in front of the automatic door letting it open and close continuously while also "un-hanging" from the bars and walking in a circle in front of people trying to leave.

I am at the checkout in which the checkout woman tells me that I physically have to take the clothes off the hangars, she can't do it....(enter increased blood pressure). All the while, I'm saying, "Claire, come over here...Claire, come over here", frantically trying to get the pants off the hangars so we can get out of there before we all lose it.

Next thing you know, I'm telling my 1 year old that she will be in "BIG TROUBLE" if she doesn't get over to me....Big Trouble? What am I saying, honestly, what does that mean...then I get mad at myself that I just said it.

Meanwhile, I can't do anything if she doesn't listen and come over to me because I'm too busy taking the pants off the hangars that seem to be stuck in the belt loops...

That's what I mean by desperate disciplining. I find myself saying things to my children that have no REAL consequence, make matters worse, and probably actually make them want to disobey me even huh?

Then a friend recommended this book,
Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman.

I Love It. Now, not every story or example is exactly how I would handle things,
but the main theme of the book is what gets me....
are you ready?

Pay attention, this is good...
"Discipline your child fully so they have a heart change,
meaning to be more like Christ...
in addition to just eliminating the behavior. "

Wow, I gotta tell you...reading that book was the first time I had ever thought about disciplining to create a heart change in my child.

I guess I just thought that letting them know they did something wrong would make them better people because they would know not to do it again...I was missing the whole point.

Wouldn't you know that as soon as I read the first 4 chapters,
we had an incident that would let me test my heart shaping skills:

Lily,3, received a big pink chair for her birthday. Claire,1, did not. Claire loves to sit in said pink chair. Lily does not like that....enter conflict.

Screaming, crying and tattling.

"Mommy, Claire's sitting in MY chair...I want to sit in MY chair."

"Think Fast"
I say to myself...what would Ginger Plowman do....
oh wait, I mean what would Jesus do...

"Lily, wouldn't it be nice to just wait until Claire is finished sitting on the pink chair? She is having so much fun. You could sit on her Dora chair if you want?"

Lily explains, " No mommy I want the pink chair...(enter jumping up and down and pointing to Claire who is as cool as a cucumber knowing full well how she is causing her sister to act.) "

"Lily, do you think it would make you happy to force Claire out of the chair so you can get what you want? Don't you want to share the pink chair with Claire?"

" No mommy, I WANT to sit in that chair."

(ok, Ginger's example didn't quite go like what?)

"Lily, have you ever thought about going to Claire and asking her nicely if she would get up from the pink chair before you come and cry to me?"

Lily walks over to Claire, "Claire...would you please get up from the chair?"

Wouldn't you know, Claire gets up and sits in her own chair?

... this felt a little like grace to me.
In the book, Ginger would have disciplined for the temper tantrum and for the tattling, but I was just happy to have tried the technique of getting at the heart of my child
and not just putting a bandaid on the situation which I am very likely to do at 4 o'clock
in the afternoon trying to get dinner ready.
Maybe next time, there will be even more success.

Being a mother and the main disciplinarian can be tough and there really are no written rules...but realizing that I am primarily a "heart-shaper" really made me change my tune
and want to mediate rather than quickly solve the problem.

I truly suggest you read this book...I am almost through,
and it really has changed my perspective tremendously.


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  1. Thanks for writing this post. So so so true.
    I read something that is similar to 'shaping their hearts'.
    It said, are you discipline actions and the ways in which you relate brining you closer or farther away from your child. It also ask us to think of teh bigger picture. Is this technique going to bring results when they are teenagers. Is it allowing you the relationship you wish to have with them when they are older. I know I get so stuck in teh now and handling the situation NOW that I so easily for get the the heart issue and the bringing us closer issues.
    Isn't having 2 girls fun!! So much pink and frill. there is almost no way around it! ha!

  2. i did a book study with some girls from church using that book. we also have 'shepherding a child's heart' by paul tripp. i def. recommend that one if u haven't already read it. EXCELLENT stuff.