The morning was breezy and perfect to be at the park on a hot summer day. Cheyenne and Elijah were at school, leaving me to fill the morning with fun for my youngest Tori—so off the park we went. I parked myself on a bench while she scampered off to her favorite play toy, a rocking dolphin. But a little boy was playing on it. From a distance I watched as Tori approached the boy and waited. Suddenly her little fists shot out and punched the boy. In horror, I quickly grabbed Tori and set her in a time out.
“Tori do we hit?”
“No, but I wanted to play on the dolphin and the he wouldn’t get off,” she wailed.
“Tori, we share and take turns. You need to wait until he is done playing. Now when you’re ready, you need to go apologize to him and wait your turn,” I responded, thinking I must be the worst mom on the planet.
Tori ran off to the dolphin where the boy was still rocking. Moments past when Tori grabbed the boy by his shirt, pulling him off the dolphin. I darted over and grabbed Tori, all the while apologizing to the father of the bewildered little boy.
“Tori what did I tell you?”
“But mom, I was making it my turn!”
Doing the “mom thing” isn’t easy. After we sweat through the birth and stumble through sleepless nights, we encounter a wiggley, opinionated toddler. She seems to think she knows the world and her way is right and we’re left wondering how do we do this mom thing. If you’re a teen mom or a mentor of a teen mom, the tips below will help make doing the mom thing easier.
Even when we teach our child right from wrong, she will make poor choices and it will be embarrassing and make you think you’re the worst mom on the planet. The truth is—you aren’t. There are tons of different ways to discipline and to teach right from wrong, so will work and some won’t, like putting Tori in a time out. So here are quick tips to remember when it comes to discipline, try to keep it age appropriate and keep in mind it to follow through.
Distractions – Give the child something to do that he can’t do while misbehaving. “Help me find 4 red apples” instead of running around the grocery store, “Would you like to choose the cereal or help get the apples?” Or when you’re child is about to have a meltdown, try a game of I spy, “I know you’re tired and don’t want to wait here with me so let’s play I spy while we wait. I spy with my little eye….”
Choices– Give the child two choices, both of which are positive and acceptable to you. When a child does something you don’t want him to do or doesn’t want to do what you have requested, give him a choice.
Get on Child’s Eye Level – When talking with your child, get down on his eye level and look him in the eye while talking softly but firmly to him.
Time Out – Tell the child to “take a break” and think about what he could do differently that would work better or be more constructive. Tell him that he can come back as soon as he is ready to try again.
Pray at the end of each day–Remind your child that he is special and loved. Pray with him, saying out loud how special he is to you and to God.
Be the Cheerleader– Make a big deal out of appropriate behavior. “Catch” your child being good with praise, thanks and hugs. Our kids want our eyes on them more than anything else, so we have to train ourselves to look for the good .
Model the behavior you want – Model the behaviors you want. Show the child, by example, how to behave.
Be Aware – Keep your eyes and mind on what is happening. Don’t wait until the child is out of control to step in. Remove the child from the situation if necessary. Stay calm let him know what his options are. Be firm but not mean.
Use Actions Instead of Words — When the child continues to get out of bed and comes to the living room, take him back to bed, as many times as it takes. Don’t get upset, talk, scold, threaten or give reasons. Stay calm. Your child will learn that nighttime is for sleeping and that you are serious about enforcing bedtime.
Indoor Voice – Instead of yelling, screaming or talking in a loud voice, your child will listen more when you lower your voice to a whisper. This helps you stay in control and think more clearly. It’s often how we react to what our kids are doing that teach them to continue make the same poor choice or not.
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