Posted in Coronavirus, Disciplining Children, Home, parenting

5 Quick Tips on How to Manage With Kids at Home During COVID-19 Crisis

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Nobody said this would be easy.

And on top of that, you don’t have your usual supports–outings of various kinds, kids sports and lessons, playdates, shopping, even daycare–all those amazing parenting helps.

I’m sure I’m not the most qualified person to speak on this subject. I’m not a natural at this parenting thing, as some women seem to be. But I did learn a few things as I home-schooled my children for half their school years and lived with very limited options on a restricted income.

There are so many resources out there for parents today, so what I am going to pass on are some really simple basics that just might help you keep your sanity.

  • You are the Queen. Or the King. In your home. That means you manage your kingdom. You are in charge.

This really works best if your subjects like you. It works best if they buy into your plan. So you have to get them excited about the big picture. For us it was to have a HAPPY FAMILY. Who doesn’t want that? Everything we did was to work towards the final end of having a happy family.

  • Your job description, as the King or Queen of your home is, in practice, very much like that of a Coach in relation to your team.

A coach teaches the team essential winning skills. The coach thinks long term strategy. The coach is the encourager.

  • The King or Queen is also a good Manager. One of the keys to good management is having good systems and structures in place.

Divide the day up into sections. Separate each one with a food break. (Plan and prepare snacks.) See what would work best in each section. Make a list of things to do and fill each section with some significant activity. Don’t have too much structure. Leave room for flexibility and down time. Include regular chores, physical exercise (maybe to a video) and personal/rest/down times. Strategically schedule things to look forward to and enjoy. Have a few back-up activities you can pull out on the spur of the moment. The thing young kids enjoy the most is activities that involve their parents so plan when these will happen.

  • Princes and Princesses can sense their personal value in the kingdom. One day they too will be a King or Queen.

I never actually used this analogy in talking with my children. Parenting is a very personal thing, but there are a few principles that make parenting easier. Ask yourself what you want for your children as adults and what you would like your relationship with them to look like in ten, fifteen or twenty years from now. Keeping this picture before me constantly helped me in the trying times.

  • As a subject to a Heavenly King, we have access to his Throne, to ask for those things of which we are in need. Our Creator knows us better than we know ourselves and we can trust him to Coach us.

Teach your children gratitude. Teach them reverence for God. Teach them faith. When times get tough, we have a place to go to in prayer. When times are good, we have Someone to Praise.

 

 

Posted in Children, Disciplining Children, Home, Love, Marriage & Family, parenting

Can “Time-Out” and Other Disciplines Be Bad for Your Child?

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Some time ago I wanted to know what the research said about the effect of spanking on children. Naturally, I did a Google search, and discovered that there were literally dozens of articles that all said the same thing. When we read the same thing over and over, we tend to think it is true. We are inclined to go with the “consensus.”

The wording of the articles I read was so similar, that they aroused my suspicion. It looked to me like all these writers were drawing from the same source. That would be alright, as long as it was the actual research. But what if one writer misinterpreted the research, or conveniently omitted important relevant information, and everybody copied this person as an authority on the subject?

It turned out that was exactly what happened. After a long search I finally tracked down material from the original research and found that it read nothing like the popular articles posted on virtually every parenting site.

There may be a “consensus” or agreement from many sources about some form of parenting, but we need to apply our own understanding and observations and determine if what we read is really helpful.

If you have a parenting style that is working well for you and your child, then read no further. But if you’ve ever wondered about the effectiveness of two popular discipline techniques–“time-out” and withholding privileges–then hear me out.

“Go to your room.” We’ve probably all heard it and maybe we’ve said it. What is the purpose of this order? Think about it. I suggest it is multiple. 1) It indicates to the child that there has been an ‘incident’ or some misbehavior. 2) It separates the child from the setting where the incident occurred, and maybe from others involved. 3) It gives the child a “cooling off” period. 4) It gives the child a quiet space for reflection. 5) It offers a parent the same–time to cool off and time to reflect on what happened and to decide if there will be further consequences.

There is an age where this is appropriate. We wouldn’t tell a toddler to go to their room, for instance. They wouldn’t understand, and the separation anxiety would not be healthy for them.

“Time-out” says to the child, “You are being punished because you did something bad.” You may ask, what is wrong with that?

There is a slight difference between being sentenced to “time-out” and being told to “go to your room.” The difference I observe is that “time-out” can be used as a threat, whereas sending a child to their room is what happens immediately after an incident.

I managed without using “time-out” in my parenting and here is the reason why I resisted it. Ask yourself, what is a child doing when they are in “time-out”? They are thinking. You don’t want them to think too long without your guidance and comfort. I think “time-out” can be helpful if done the right way.

When a child has misbehaved it is particularly important for them to know what their parent is thinking and what the next step will be. This is a need they have, like the need for food.

If you send a child to their room it means something happened. The thing that happened has to be addressed. “You and your brother were fighting. Now I want you to apologize and then (fill in the blank, e.g. read quietly in your room) for the next half hour.”

After an incident there needs to be a brief discussion about the impact of the child’s actions or words, as well as talk about future prevention. This can happen at the beginning or after the cooling down period.

Make these uncomfortable conversations relatively short. I once overheard a father “lecture” his son in public for half an hour. I saw the compliance on the child’s face and felt there was no need for this kind of extreme parental intervention. I admit I became afraid for the father/son relationship. Cover all the necessary ground, but don’t go on and on. Kids get it.

“Time-out” is the removal of a privilege–the privilege of being able to roam freely and interact with others. It is “confinement.” The sooner you can get your child out of confinement, the better. For a young child of four, giving them five or six minutes alone is plenty of time before the parent comes and talks to them and then allows them to go and play. For an older child, half an hour is a reasonable time to be required to stay in their room. After the first few minutes it is good for the parent to return to the room and make contact. You don’t want your child to see this as rejection or alienation. It is simply a time to change course and momentum. You may look into the room and say something like, “You can read in your room for half an hour.”

I don’t think it is a good plan to send a child to their room without any input about how to use their time. Say, “You can play quietly for awhile in your room.” This will connect your child to you, and the child will find comfort in knowing you know what they are doing. To an older child you may say, “I want you to work on your homework for at least an hour.” This has now gone beyond discipline to a productive use of the next hour. If they come out and get a drink of water, that is allowed but they are expected to return to their room for the duration of the time. Don’t shout at them and tell them to go back. Watch them. If they dawdle, then remind them in an even tone by saying, “An hour isn’t up yet.”

Once again, ‘room time’ is to be a quiet, reflective time. I discourage music, movies or video games. The brain is to calm down and have limited stimulation. It needs to “work” in a constructive way by coming up with play, reading, doing homework or some other calming activity. In this way “time-out” can be a positive experience. You want your child to emerge from their room a happier person.

“Time-out” is the removal of a privilege. There are other privileges that parents tend to remove and I want to touch on taking away video games or electronics. Many times I’ve heard parents tell me they have removed a privilege for “two weeks” or longer, even for very young children who don’t have a sense of the length of this time period. When I see this, one question that pops into my mind is, what happens if there is another incident two days into the two weeks?

Not only is there the problem of what to do if another incident occurs, but there is also the problem of the child being left without an activity. If the activity is not a good thing for them, then by all means cut it out, but not as a discipline.

In my opinion, two days/two nights or three days/three nights without electronics is plenty of time as a discipline before the privilege is restored. This is a time span even a younger child can perceive, when you talk in terms of “two sleeps.” It also means there is more frequent optimism about having the privilege restored.

Children start out wanting to believe that their parents are being fair. But if they perceive that a punishment is extreme, they start to lose hope. Sometimes they even become more angry. You don’t want your child to lose hope. They need to see that the punishment is reasonable.

I come from the old school where spanking was also part of discipline. Yes, it was abused by some, but three swats on the bottom–after a clear understanding was reached about the error of a child’s way–was sometimes the best “attitude adjuster.” Spanking should only ever be done for misbehavior and defiance about which a child has been warned, and then, after other methods have proved ineffective. Some children never need this degree of correction. The research shows, however, that corporal punishment when infrequently administered, without excess, is actually beneficial to a child’s development.

Discipline is for the purpose of correction. If the outcome is not positive, the problem is very likely not your child. It could be that correction needs to be applied differently. Correction is meant to have a good outcome for you child. Watch for this with any form of discipline you use.

-Photo courtesy of Pexels.