Thursday, May 14, 2009

A plan

One bit of advice that Dr. James Dobson gave in one of his parenting books was advising parents to have a plan of action. Instead of reacting to a child's behavior, it is necessary to have  a plan of how you will discipline that child for any given situation. For example, what do you do about lying in your family? What about hitting? What about sass/attitude? Instead of reacting in anger, administer the discipline in a calm, matter-of-fact way.
This bit of advice has been so helpful in my own parenting. For awhile now we have been having problems with my 6 year old daughter being extremely whiny and fussy before she went to bed. Granted, she is prone to this kind of behavior, but if I dug deeper, I knew she was just plain tired. Digging deeper, probing more into our children's behavior allows us to administer more grace in our parenting. We are seeking to understand the behavior. Why is she acting this way? What can I do to help? If it's a disobedience issue, then we immediately administer discipline. If it's something else, then we try to solve the problem in a more practical way.
In this certain situation, we knew the problem was overtiredness. This child wakes up very early, and even brags about her status as a "morning person". She was going to bed between 8-9 o'clock and that was just too late for her. So, instead of merely just disciplining her for her behavior (the whining and crying) we changed her bedtime to 7:30. This seems to have helped on her behavior. 
The point is, we had a plan when circumstances happened that we never could have foreseen. Granted you will not always have a plan. But a plan cuts down on resentment from the parent,and reacting in anger to behavior.
Likewise, our lives are ordered in this manner. The key to abundant life is realizing that we do not control circumstances, and often God will not change circumstances in our lives. But He does not leave us alone, He gives us hope continually. Isaiah 40:11 speaks of our Lord: "Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead..." The plan is that amidst life's pressures, burdens, and changing circumstances, we need only to look to His Word to see how He is leading us to greener pastures. He is refreshing us and we dwell with Him under His wings. Nothing can harm us in His love and grace and mercy. If only we would turn more to Him and rest and trust Him instead of just asking Him to change the circumstance or doing it in our own strength. It's a plan I am trying to incorporate in my life, and trying to understand.


dorothy said...

This post is just so where I am with my littles right now. I actually put my old blue bracelet on(remember, from our study?) last week as a visual reminder not to parent them out of my own strength (which so often leads to resentment on my part), but to appeal to the Holy Spirit to help me parent with grace.

Christine said...

SO true! My 6 yo, Maddy, has similar issues. Since we found out she has ADD (a label I don't like but has helped me a great deal in planning for her), my own attitude and stress level have greatly been reduced. Digging deeper into the why, and "how can we fix it together" was so important in this case. Great post!

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

This was a blessing to me as I am severely deficient in this area. Which is strange because with our older set, I was much more conscious and aware of what I was doing, particularly from a discipline standpoint.

With the littles, my 2 (almost 3) year old gets away with far more than she should and I am often wondering to myself: "how did I let this get so far out of hand?"

I will prayerfully begin thinking through this in more depth, realizing that she won't always be 2.

Children of Eve said...

Love this post, Andrea. "He will gently lead", that is exactly how I wish to be as a parent.

Linnie said...

Thank you for sharing this insight. I love your blog, it is so encouraging. You are a true example of a God Fearing Mother, simply trusting God, leading her in raising her family.