Sunday, August 9, 2009

Maybe it isn't supposed to be text-book easy...

I know you all have your hearts set on another post about what I'm wearing, or what new gadget I've acquired, but this will be a post on my thoughts on raising kids. Shocking, I complaining please...unless you are going to leave me a which case, go right ahead. Positive or negative comment...I'm not picky.

I have been known to complain that kids should come with a manual. If someone would just tell me what ACTUALLY WORKS with kids, I'd be happy to follow it. The problem is that what works with one child may not work with another.

I don't think everyone agrees with this concept. They think they do, but they really don't. The "To Train Up A Child" folks may believe that children are different, but I think they largely believe that strict training benefits all children. The "positive reinforcement only" folks believe, IMHO, that all children will respond to being encouraged to want to do what they should do.

I'm searching for a new parenting plan for the Big Guy. The parenting methods that we used successfully with Sweetness and Spunky Girl (mostly derived from the "Growing Kids God's Way series) haven't been succesful with him. With the girls, we had kind of an "escalating discipline" plan. Most behavior is fixed with a reminder, or better yet some coaching on what good behavior looks like before they got into trouble. Failure to respond to those reminders will get you a consequence, maybe a time out or something that makes sense (like losing the toy they are not using correctly). Bad attitudes, lack of respect toward a parent, or aggression toward others usually earn them some stronger discipline. But, in the end, we were always able to bring their behavior around to what we wanted it to be.

The Big Guy, on the other hand, will usually get himself in trouble for throwing a fit because he didn't get what he wanted...and any attempts to discpline him for that fit will only lead to more screaming and aggressive behavior. Unlike the girl's parenting plan, which centers on how we'll react to behavior we don't want to encounter again...the Big Guy's parenting plan needs to center on how to avoid getting into the situation where he's throwing a tantrum. I cringe as I write that because I know it sounds like we've stopped trying to train him and are dejectedly now training ourselves instead. But I feel strongly that he needs something different than the girls needed. He needs to be taught how to accept life's disappointments without going ballistic.

Today I've been thinking that God didn't give us a concise parenting plan on purpose, probably for the same reason that he doesn't give us a concise marriage plan. I think God gives us general principals that we need to apply, and then it is our challenge to consider our family members with love and decide what is best for that unique person that God gave us. I think we learn to love each other more when we struggle a little bit with knowing what to do in challenging situations. It forces us to really look into ourselves and question why we behave the way we do and whether it is truly ourselves that need to change or if we need to motivate our loved one to change. I'm being forced to look at my parenting plan, which I like very much, and determine if that plan is THE WAY and the Big Guy will eventually get it...or whether the right thing to do (the loving thing to do) is to go outside of my comfort level in order to seek the best for my son.

Some friends of mine are reading a new parenting book called 'Loving Your Kids on Purpose". I haven't read the book yet, but I'm eagerly awaiting their book reports (so I can see if I really need to read it). I don't know if the theories in this book will work with the Big Guy or not, but I'm willing to look into it. I'm eager to hear anyone else's thoughts on that book or any other parenting books you love!

1 comment:

  1. You are right...different kids require different parenting styles and I can tell you that you are SOOOO not alone in recognizing this! I too, wish each kid came w/a manual, that would make it so much easier. But then, there is something to be said for doing the work and figuring it out...and you'll get there with The Big Guy, you will. And when you do, let me know - because my 3rd child has been my most challenging (disciplinewise), but I wouldn't trade her for the world!



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