I’ve heard various Christians react to the apparent conflict between shepherding a child, and winning the battles of authority. Regardless of how you want to label the conflict, I had a good experience this morning loving and caring for my twenty month old.
She ran away with sister’s toy, and when I told her to return it, she clutched it tighter and said no, Mommy.
I came to get her and help her obey, but then she dropped the toy and said no again.
So I scooped her up in my arms and took her to the bedroom. She got a spanking for disobeying. I told her that she must obey mommy, and when I prompted her to say yes, ma’am, again she said no. Now I know that many Christian parents would keep spanking at this point, but I don’t spank repeatedly until “the will is broken.” There’s too much danger of abuse at that point.
What I did do was this: I told her that she must stay with mommy until she said yes, ma’am. She cried, and I knew that she understood it was her way or my way. After awhile, I put her in a chair and told her that she could get up when she was ready to obey. Then I took advantage of her immobility and pulled out my Bible. That reminded me again to pray for wisdom and direction.
After awhile she told me that she wanted to get up. I told her she could, but after she was ready to obey. I’d asked her before Are you ready to obey? but she had always responded no.
Finally she said yes, and when I asked her to say yes, ma’am, she did.
We repeated this process a few hours later in a different incident. She responded more quickly that time. I’m particularly interested that it came about that establishing authority was more of a focus than the spanking. The spanking was incidental (and although I know some will disagree, I think it may have been unnecessary). God’s Word allows for a multitude of ways to teach our children to obey. Sometimes we focus on the method rather than the goal.
I’ll be thinking on this for awhile.
Shelley Gallamore says
I have also not liked the “spanking until they give in” but, I think you found a very effective way to remain in control and win the authority battle without potentially being overly harsh, or losing control yourself. I have found with my kids this summer that simply saying “you need to go to your room until you are ready to do what you know to be right” – and standing firm on the go to your room part almost always results in a fairly quick trip down the stairs with an apology and better attitude…you know, I think I am going to blog about this. 🙂
Thanks for weighing in, Shelley. I’ll be interested to read your post!
Very good point about focusing on the method vs. the goal! And I was encouraged by Shelley’s post on this topic, too. 😀
Laura just turned 4 on Saturday. I’m noticing some improvement in her attitude when frustrated (not screaming or name-calling as much when the boys antagonize her), however, 99% of the time when I sit her down until she changes her attitude after a spanking – when necessary – , she cries on and on and on and on and on. I’m at a loss most times, because it seems that her crying itself is disobedience. She will not respond, and the parent dealing with her usually ends up exasperated. Of course, this never happens in a quiet, serene atmosphere, but usually at a peak moment of the day, when there are many other needs to attend to! lol We’ve tried redirecting, warning, ignoring, isolation, etc., but at this point, I think it would be unwise to continue spanking. It’s difficult for me to function with her wailing away in the computer chair, and, in summer, our laundry room is usually unbearably hot, so not a good option either.
I’m losing sight of the actual problem because I just want her to STOP. 8-l
And of course, before I could even finish this post, she’s relegated again to the computer chair…lol!
Yes, I understand the excessive crying! I’m certain quite a bit is developmental. And I also recognize the environment/ schedule differences. Do you think that the problems happen around this time because we moms are neglectful, or because we’ve got a selfish child who doesn’t like sharing attention with the other needs of the house? For us it’s sometimes both! I’ve seen some success with my three year old just talking with her (at a non-crisis time) that her crying (and acting silly) is sometimes a way to show that she is angry and doesn’t like what mommy is telling her to do. Then during a crisis I have asked her about this discussion. Must go take care of children….
To finish…. I have always been reluctant to spank for crying and whining. But as my children grow older and their ability to control themselves likewise grows, I’ve been changing my approach a bit. I’m trying to teach beforehand what is wrong with crying as a response to life’s problems, so that in the middle of the problem I can refer back to our teaching. Trying to teach during a crisis has been singularly ineffective.
Re-reading my confused post…
When I said it would be unwise to continue spanking, I mean that I am uncomfortable with treating the crying as a spankable offense…we have done this, but it is ineffective so far, and only compounds the matter – incessant crying!
I look forward to your thoughts…
Teaching during a crisis being singularly ineffective…well said! lol
Philip was the first child who showed excessive crying (he’s still enthusiastic in all areas). Looking back now, his was usually easy to nip in the bud around the age of 3/4 because he knew that if he needed to cry, he should just go to the laundry room until he was composed again.
I might reinstitute the laundry room as the Crying Closet with Laura. I noticed this morning that when I gave her a choice of crying in the laundry room or sitting quietly in a chair, she chose the laundry room. Go figure! lol (I’ve noticed that she and Philip have very similar temperaments, however…same with Martin and baby Emily.)
The referral back to non-crisis teaching times while in a crisis is a good idea. And yes, it’s been very busy for mom and dad for months now, I’ve been longing for just mom/kid time. With a bit of a breather starting last week finally, we’ve both seen the need and decided to take more individual time with Laura…I’m glad for it! Hopefully this will get us into a better and more normal routine for school, too.
Looking back, it’s been an eventful year for a tiny girl…she was still 2 when I had Emily and got very busy with seminary stuff…I need to remember to take this into account. 😉
Shelley Gallamore says
Listening to these further thoughts, I am struck by Gina’s list of all she has tried. I too tended (and still tend) to try something one or twice looking for a result and then try something else. One thing my mentor has really stressed with me has been “keep trying and being consistant with one thing. Over a long period – like more than a month. That is really hard for me, but when I have tried it, I have found it worked. Often after I was worn out and convinced it wasn’t going to. So, like maybe make the laundry room the crying corner for the rest of the summer? I know that is really hard – I personally want to be more results focused.
Shelley, Thanks for this reminder. There is great value in not giving up too soon.