Ephesians 6:4 – “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Discipline is a concern for Dennis and myself. We agreed to agree in our discipline for Dindin. We agreed that if one is scolding Dindin, the other parent will not interfere. We also agreed to punish Dindin for misbehavior. We have both a paddle and a stick (like the ones illustrated below) that serve different purposes. The paddle is for when she shows stubborn behavior and is used on her diaper cushioned butt. The stick (which is actually the slide or a Morocco folder) is for her hands, when she did small gestures with her hands that are not appropriate. The paddle is just too big for her tiny hands.
Thankfully, Dennis and I agree on the things that we need to punish Dindin for. So there is no problem with that. To answer your questions, no, we do not whack Dindin just because we are angry. We give her three soft pa-pa. But for her, it is not the pain of the hit, it is the fact that she was punished that makes her cry and remorseful. After her punishment, we hug her and assure her that we love but we cannot allow her to continue doing such things. Then she would stop crying. It is as simple as that–our discipline time.
When I got married that verse, Ephesians 6:4, really struck me. I wanted to raise up my child as a disciplined individual but I don’t want to exasperate her. So I try to be consistent. Here are the things that worked for us. These are not fool proof but products of trial and error situations throughout the 1 year and a half that we had Dindin. She has a distinctly strong personality and we also have had misses before we hit the target.
1. Do as I say and follow what I do. There are certain things that I would not like Dindin to do, like pick her nose with her finger, pick up food fallen on the floor and eating them, jumping or standing on the bed, or throwing things. There are many more. But you get the picture. Because I don’t want her to do them, I keep myself from doing them as well so that she will not follow my example. That means, Dennis and I have to set ourselves as role models for Dindin.
2. Talk and bargain first before hitting. During her younger years, we would keep telling off Dindin what to do and what not to do. Eventually, she just did what was right and avoided what was wrong or what could hurt her. When she exhibits stubborn behavior, like shout, throw a fit or persist in what she wants, that is when I hit her, either on the butt or her hand.
3. Don’t shy away from apologies. There is nothing wrong with saying sorry to your child. In fact, that will model to her good behavior. In my case, I have said sorry to Dindin many times already, especially during those times when I have scolded her too much. Most of the time when I say sorry, Dindin will just keep her head bowed down and refuse to look at me. She would just continue tinkering with whatever she is holding. But after a few moments of apologizing and explaining things to her, I would get it that she has already forgiven me if she will lean on to me or hug me. She is that sensitive.
4. Explain. I am not sure what she can really understand, but I try to explain things to Dindin, such as..
She can do this but…
She cannot do this because…
And if she does something, this will happen.
5. I give her a choice. Lately, I started Dindin on choices for behavior and she seemed to be responding well to it. She can do this and have this consequence. And surprisingly, she does understand!
6. Handle the discipline. Do not transfer the responsibility of disciplining your child to others. Like when she does something wrong, do not say, “O, stop that, the policeman will be angry” or “The guard will take you away.” Just be firm that she will be punished for wrongdoing.
7. Reprimand unacceptable behavior but be generous with praise for good behavior. We praise her for every good thing, big or small. Sometimes, it easy to take their good deeds for granted because for our, these are trivial things. But for them, these are already huge successes. If we praise them, we affirm that they did something good and they will continue to do it. 😀
How we punish.
1. First we reprimand or scold. After some time, behavior will be modified. If not, then step 2.
2. Depending on what was done, we use the paddle or the stick to punish.
3. Limited to three hits. If two hands were involved, then Dindin gets three hits on each palm. These are not strong blows. These are actually gentle taps. But for her, it is as if she was hit really hard. It was not the physical pain, but the thought that she did wrong and was punished.
4. After the spanking episode, the paddle or stick is kept away from her. Then she is hugged or carried and assured of our love. This assures Dindin that we love her despite what she has done and that the punishment was for the behavior and not because of her.
Note: Do not let your child play with the items used for punishment. We keep ours from her sight and she only sees them when she did something wrong. If she gets to play with it, then it is just another toy for her. At the same time, that will keep us from hitting her out of rage or emotional outburst.
1. We can tell Dindin to do things. One time, she emptied a pack of Pei Pa Koa candy on the floor. I muttered under my breath, “Oh no…” I ignored her for awhile. But I did not know that her Papa told her to pick up the candies from the floor. The next thing I knew, she came to me with the plastic full of candies…I looked to the floor and voila! She picked each and every single one of the candy that she dropped on the floor. I was so touched at what she did that I hugged her and told her very good.
2. We can modify her behavior/reactions.
3. We can trust her to do or not do things, such as not taking things from shelves of toy stores.
4. No matter how angry we are at her, especially me, she will still cling on to me, even if I push her away. She would not find other people to take her side. I guess for her, no matter what happens, I am her Mom and she is my daughter.
5. She knows how to say sorry without being told.
I have quite a temper. That is why I always have to keep myself in check when I discipline Dindin. Am I doing this because I am angry at her or because it is my responsibility to correct wrong behavior? Many times I have failed in this area, especially in the past when Dindin was younger but exhibited a rather mature outlook. Sometimes I would forget that she is still a baby and therefore warrants some baby times when she throws tantrums over things. Only God knows how many times I have shouted at her and made her feel really bad.
Over time however and much prayer, I learned to draw the line already. She can now understand the concept of reward and punishment. She knows that wrong behavior gets punished and she really knows that she has done wrong.
One time, she was writing on a piece of paper that was on the bed. The problem was, some of the writings “spilled over” to the bed sheet. I told her about it in my loud voice. She looked at me sheepishly and kept her head bowed. But I told her that I have to punish her so that she will not do it again. So I hit her right hand with the stick 3 times. She cried hard but was immediately assuage.
Lastly, I always remind myself that Dindin is a gift from the Lord…a miracle in our lives. Whenever I think of these thoughts, I am just overflowing with love for Dindin. That way, I cannot afford to hit her just because I got mad at her.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY
All the things I have written above were our parts in disciplining Dindin. Although it may seem a long article, it is just the tip of the iceberg. We just did our part. But what really changes Dindin is the work of the Holy Spirit. We all pray for the good of our kids. But sometimes, there are certain things that we also need to present to God but fail to see. Here are some of my prayer items:
1. Dindin had a way of doing things. She did not like being taught then. I sensed a stubbornness in her spirit and brought this up to the Lord. I have prayed several months for Dindin to have a teachable spirit. Little by little we see her listening to us or considering how things could be done aside from her way of doing things.
2. Wisdom to be the best parents to Dindin. I believe that all parents would want to be the best parents towards their children. We want to give them the very best in everything. Sadly our best always fall short. So I always ask God for wisdom for Dennis and myself, especially in making decisions. We ask Him for guidance in how to discipline Dindin. We ask for wisdom when to give and when to withhold rewards and punishments. Pretty much everything, we ask for wisdom and guidance.
3. Obedient child. I guess over and above everything else, I have really prayed that Dindin will be obedient to us and that God will quell any hint of rebellion in Dindin.
4. Protection from ungodly influence. There are things that are acceptable to some families that are not acceptable to us. In some extreme cases, cursing is encouraged among children. We don’t utter invectives but we pray that Dindin will not be influenced by such negative practices.
How you see Dindin now is a product of much prayer and the discipline of earthly parents. Her behavioral modification did not happen over night. Whenever we see a troubling thing about her behavior, we bring it up to God for wisdom on how to deal with it.
I am sharing these things to whoever gets to read them. I am not saying that all of these will work for your child. Each one is unique and we just have to ask the Lord for wisdom on how to deal with them. Just pick up bits and pieces that you think may also work for your children.