Updated: Mar 21
*This post is written with young families in mind, however can be applied to families with all aged children.
Can you imagine how frustrating and fruitless it'd be if there were highway laws that were never communicated?
One day you get pulled over and given a ticket for wearing the color green. Green?! Since when was that not allowed? So you assume it's a new law that slipped by. But then a week later you forget, and wear green but for some reason this time you enjoy your entire drive without a siren spotting in your rear view window. However you do later get pulled over for turning left before honking twice.
What in the world?! You'd be so frustrated. And confused! And yet, we do this to our children. We allow behaviors sometimes and then randomly when we've had enough we crank the punishment up. Or we discipline for something that is assumed to us but never actually communicated to us. This can make things really frustrating for kid and parent alike.
Having some family rules written out helps family culture tremendously. These list may morph through the years as different habits are focused on and sore spots pop up that need some extra attention.
Some family rules we have are as followed:
Choice ---> consequence
Throwing a toy ---> consequence
Hitting, pushing, or kicking ---> consequence
Yelling NO! ---> consequence
Ignoring instruction ---> consequence
***Every family has different values and consequence preferences. From time ins/outs, spanking, loosing toys+privileges, going to a calming spot, getting a long lecture... I have seen families use a variety of methods depending on how they personally feel comfortable. The "consequence" doesn't always have to be something that "deprives". Think of a consequence as the effect to the cause.
We, as a family, have consequences we feel comfortable with and those we don't. We have had to go to the Lord in earnest prayer and are using methods we feel line up with the heart of God and His word. I suggest you do this with your spouse.
We start teaching expectations from day one, but start implementing consequences right around two. I can't explain it, but as a parent you just know if they grasp what they are doing or simply ignorantly exploring new skills.
Once your expectations and consequences are given you stand. your. ground. Parents! YOUR CONSISTENCY IS EVERYTHING. Sometimes it takes months of conversations, and hugs, and prayers, and sitting on the floor until the tantrum stops, to then cause more tears when the consequence comes. It is hard; for both kid and parent! But He is training us both in love! And the goal is not to "stop the behavior" it's to get to the root in the heart. Sin is messy and only removed by Jesus. It takes lots of prayer and patience my friends.
When my son was two, we had to really focus on not throwing toys in anguish and anger. We turned our dining room table into a "toy time out" and whatever toy was thrown got put on the table. When I would watch his favorite tractor be hurled across the room my heart would break. I knew that meant big tears were about to come as he realized he couldn't play with it the rest of the day. And to be honest it felt very fruitless. I think there was a time when a toy was on that table for 5-6 straight months. I was exhausted, and second guessing myself every time. But I knew, because of prayer, this was the strategy the Lord gave me. So I stayed consistent and guess what, there was a day I realized "wait, there's no toy on the table, and hasn't been in months!" So when I say HARD work, I mean it. It is enduring. But the Bible tells us that is will bring fruit.
Hebrews 12:11," No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
We are going for building character, not just changing behavior. We are pursing a harvest of righteousness that will be a benefit to our child and all those around them.
That happens with a lot of consistent conversations, and grace from the Lord. It takes you having the discipline to stop and follow through as you partner with Holy Spirit. It looks like you doing work on the outside while The Lord does the heart work on the inside. It may feel exhausting, but you can do hard work, and you have His help. AND it won't magically stop one day, you have to address it.
Remember, the conversation is just as important as the consequence because this is where we can pray, teach, and explain the why.
A list of family rules and consequences can help tremendously in giving clarity, and producing fruit. It helps you focus on the main things, let go the others, and give you a plan.
When I say I'm cheering you on, I mean it!!!
He is with You,