“If it is hard for you to discipline yourself, it is going to be hard for you to discipline your children.”Caroline J Sumlin
I came across this quote on Caroline’s IG Stories and it struck a cord.
A few days ago, in a conversation with a friend, the topic of discipline came up. She asked what the appropriate age was to start disciplining her daughter. I was a little taken aback. I asked her what she meant.
You see, where I come from, discipline means to spank your child for doing something ‘wrong’. This is how we got corrected as children. And how some, in my generation, ‘correct’ their own children.
This got me thinking. Why do we think discipline is explicit? Children do as we do, not as we say. I tell my boys a hundred times a day why eating vegetables and fruits is important. But I find that, they are receptive to a better diet when they see it on my plate and not when I tell them to eat one thing while I eat another.
A lot of parents find themselves guilty of ‘disciplining’ their children for the same crimes they commit on the daily in front of these same children with the excuse that, “I’m the adult, I can do it. But you can’t because you are a child.” This doesn’t work. And especially with toddlers who are in a never-ending cycle of asking ‘Why?’
In my house, my oldest tries it. He will try to get away with anything. It doesn’t help that he has been told by his godmother that they both make the rules over at her apartment. And some of my friends think that is breeding a sense of entitlement. I think it is a brilliant way of enforcing responsibility and discipline.
For example, if you are in charge of a space, it is your responsibility to help too. And if you can decide that it is playtime and pull out your toys, you can clean up your toys after playtime. You can help with dinner, and the clean up afterwards. It actually is genius. Because he is so much more helpful when he knows he makes some of the decisions.
As parents, we have to learn to fulfil our mission intentionally. Moreover, intentional parenting makes the journey easier and better for everyone involved in the journey.
It is ridiculous to think only our kids need discipline. They mirror what we show them. More importantly, the question is, “How can I be disciplined and reflect that for my children, and all those who come in contact with me, to reflect?”
We live not only for ourselves. No one is an island. And even more importantly as parents, our children are our foremost responsibility. If you are experiencing discord, you are most likely to exhibit harsh, permissive and inconsistent discipline.
In summary, the next time you think about how awful you think your child is and why he needs discipline, remember to take stock of what you are putting out for your children to absorb. Be accountable. In other words, are you disciplined yourself? And as a parent? That is to say, are you showing your children traits that you expect them to reflect to you and to the world?