When Dacia Grace was a baby, I had the privilege of surrounding myself with a few seasoned moms. Those moms loved me and cared for me in so many ways. They modeled before me how to be a godly wife to Arthur as well as how to be a godly mother to Dacia Grace. They modeled godly character and discipline training for me. I am ever grateful for for their love and compassion. I still count these women as some of my closest friends and confidants and prayer warriors. We don't talk or see each other as much as we used to but they are there when I need that encouraging word or corrective word.
I find myself at a different place now where God is using me to encourage others. What a humbling place. I do not have it altogether. Quite the opposite is true! It is amazing that God has me sharing with others what He so lovingly taught to me years ago.
This morning a young mom with a newborn and small children at home posted on a forum that I moderate about her struggles. She is in the trenches right now. It is hard. She is where I was when Dacia Grace was younger. Oh, I know that I did not have other young children but the lessons that I learned can cross over to where she is today. God is there for her just like He was for me and still is for me.
The things that I wrote to encourage her bear repeating here so that maybe, just maybe, they will help encourage someone else.
So what do you do when your child will not obey and you have a newborn? How do you handle it without going crazy? Yelling more often than you would like?
First and foremost take care of yourself. It is hard to carve out time when the baby is crying and the laundry has created Mount Washmore in the family room and the dishes.....well don't even get me started on the dishes. :) But that time alone with your Creator. It is vital to your well being!
In the early morning when you are feeding the baby, read a verse or two from the Psalms. You don't have to read a long passage. One, two or three verses is enough. God is there and will meet you. Throughout the day keep the Bible open on the kitchen counter or a safe place, Refer to it as you go through your day. Turn on the praise music. Have it on in the background during the day.
Now that you are filled up, don't forget to fill up your little ones. They need filling up in the same way that you do. The difference is that you are the one helping to fill them up. Begin with reading the Bible to them each morning while they are eating breakfast. You can chose a children's story Bible such as the Jesus Story Book Bible OR you can read straight from the Bible. This time will instill a love for the Word of God from a young age. Even at six months they will take in the Word and it will find root in their hearts!
I remember reading to Dacia Grace from I John while she sat in the high chair. Oh those are precious memories! There were times when I actually combined my quiet time with hers. I read to her I John, II John and III John. It was a huge blessing to both of us.
Now that everyone is filled up spiritually, move onto the children's emotional needs. When the baby goes down for the morning nap, instead of throwing in a load of laundry, doing the dishes or checking Facebook, pull the little ones onto the couch and read to them. Share this time with them and fill up their love tank. If they are more interested in playing with trucks and blocks, sit on the floor and do that. The point is to give them some undivided attention without the baby.
Then do the chores.....together! They can sort laundry, put it in the washer, the dryer or basket. It is still fun for them at this age and teaches them to help around the house. Work is play for them. :)
In the afternoon when the baby is sleeping, repeat this for a few minutes. Enjoy them. They are only young once. It passes by so quickly!
But what do you do when they don't want to obey? When they want to be grumpy? When they choose to be disrespectful and defiant?
Well, pray about it and talk to your husband. Pull him into the equation. What are his thoughts on discipline? Between the two of you come up with basic rules....the key is basic! Perhaps.....
- I expect you to obey the first time all the time with a joyful heart.
- I expect you to show respect to me, your father, your siblings and others that we are in contact with throughout the day.
- I expect you to always tell the truth.
- I expect you to always protect and build up your siblings. This means no fighting, hitting, etc.
- No grumbling or complaining.
When there are not discipline issues, sit the children down and explain what the expectations and rules are as well as the consequences. Do this every morning to begin until they get a hang of what is expected. Write them in simple sentences and post them on the fridge.
When the children disobey, which they will, have the children identify which rule they broke. Identify it as sin. "Johnny, you are being disciplined because you sinned." Expect them to ask you to forgive them for xyz and have them be specific. Once they have been disciplined and forgiveness has been asked for and granted, lots and lots of love. The sin has been dealt with and love is now showered on them.
Try hard not to use the word "naughty" or "bad" when referring to behavior but rather the word “sin”. You want them to learn that sin is real and they have a choice to sin or not to sin.
Do not be afraid of consistent discipline however even if you are caring for the baby or in the store shopping. Leave the cart and go out to the car to deal with the behavior or even go home if need be. They quickly will learn to obey.
If you cannot take care of the behavior at that exact moment, have a rug or a chair where they must go sit and wait until you can come talk to them. Have it be the same place. Calmly tell them, "Go wait for me on the green chair." If they disobey or refuse, "Are you choosing to obey Mommy or disobey? You are adding to your sin by disobeying and rebelling." For this behavior, I double the consequence because I do not want them to develop a habit of rebelling.
Do your best to take the emotion out of the equation. I know it is hard but remember that they are little sinners just like you and me. Sin comes naturally. So if you ask them to xyz and they don't do it, then it becomes a "math equation" meaning disobedience leads to negative consequences.
While you are being consistent in discipline, remember too also be consistent in blessing for the good behaviors and help that you need. Remember the old adage that all work and no fun? Well, it is the same with all discipline and not fun. Everyone is miserable then. So remember to find ways to call out the good behaviors and character traits that you see in your children.
Also when they are acting up/out to ask yourself: When was the last time they ate? Slept? Had time with me? Too much stimulus? Not that any of those are excuses for disobedience but it will help you to realize what might be driving the sinful behavior. I still discipline in these cases but it does help me understand and perhaps the negative consequence is not so "big".
Last thoughts. Remember sweet momma, this is a season. Your children are only young once. Try hard to laugh with them each day. Hug them and squeeze them. Take in that wonderful new baby smell and the time with your littles. This season is hard and exhausting in every way....physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. BUT GOD.....is faithful. He is with you! He is your sustainer and your strength. He loves you with an everlasting love! He chose you to be the mother of these littles!