How Disciplining Children Creates Happy Childhoods

These simple ways of disciplining your children enables other adults to see past your children’s behavior and enrich their lives.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Self-discipline is hard for most of us adults, let alone children. Why wouldn’t it be just as hard to stay consistent in disciplining our children? Self-discipline, or discipline in general, is often met with a shadow of apprehension. Perhaps it’s because it brings back memories of harshness, or past failures. Nonetheless, when we achieve anything in life, it required a measure of discipline – including raising happy children.

Why is Discipling My Children So Important?

To discipline, simply means to train or teach a child the rules and morals to live by, first within your family, then a life of faith, and within a community. These, obviously, are sequential. When you are just trying to keep the toddler alive, the future value of what you teach them daily is often hard to grasp in the moment.

We teach our children to obey us as parents.

Consider this: Our children can see us, and they love us. As they grow, we want them to learn to love and obey God they cannot see. We want them to do what is right, even when they don’t feel like it. These are the life skills that must be taught, and they start with the small daily events in their lives as toddlers. It all begins with obedience.

Obedience is the single most important discipline you can give your child early in life. It starts as soon as they begin to understand your words and begin to demonstrate their will. Obeying what you tell a child to do, the first time, whether they want to or not, lays the foundation for everything they will do throughout their life and faith.

Although it may not seem like it, teaching your toddler to obey is the best time to start. Life is simple for them. It is yes or no. Action and consequences. Your will or hers.

If you have a strong-willed toddler wearing you out daily, here is a simple recipe to follow, that I promise will work if you follow it closely.

Tips for Self-Discipline

Remember, it’s your self-discipline that is key.

  • Be deliberate and purposeful.
  • Determine in your mind that you are going to set aside the next few days or even a week to teach your child how to obey you.
  • Plan to stay home, so you can be in an environment that is not over stimulating.
  • Stick to a regular schedule. Meals, naps, and bedtimes, when they are off or arbitrary your toddler has a harder time regulating his emotions. Stay consistent so he knows what to expect.

Once you have his daily routine in place, and he doesn’t have his own physical urges of being over tired, or hungry to contend with, you can begin your routine of disciplining.

Create a Discipline Routine

It’s vitally important your child always knows what to expect from you. Have you, or have you ever watched a parent, count down after repeatedly telling a child to do something? His child is waiting for that countdown. Chances are, that parent has not followed through with threats of discipline until the last number of the count. Your child will figure out your pattern pretty quickly. And will always play the odds in their favor. Set the pattern.

Give them a simple pattern both of you can adhere to. Remember, we are practicing this week, so commands are thoughtful and purposeful. Your plan is to make sure she follows directions.

Start by asking while you have her attention. While you two are talking or snuggling, not while she is distracted. When you tell your child do something, praise him or her for their obedience with big smiles and hugs. When she does not obey follow these steps–every single time.

  • Say your command once.
  • If she doesn’t obey, go to the child, and make eye contact to make sure she hears and understands what you are saying.
  • Repeat the command only once, and begin with this phrase (and this is the key) “Listen to mama…” or “Listen to Daddy…”
  • If she refuses to obey, let the punishment fit the crime.
  • Repeat with every request.

The key ingredient here is “Listen to mama…” and consistency. Combined, they create a pattern even the most strong-willed child will pick up on.

Expect your child will test you. Try not to become frustrated. She is looking for holes in your fence. Once she understands there are none. The testing will stop, and you will have a happy obedient child.

What’s the Best Way to Discipline My Child?

Every child is different. In our family of nine children, we have the entire range, from strong willed edge walkers to people pleasing compliant children. As the parent, you know your child best. Disciplining children is not a one size fits all, even within the same family.

For some children, the strength of your voice is enough to pull them in line. For others, nothing short of corporal punishment will deter them. Only use what is effective.

Set Up Rules for Disciplining Children.

  • Never punish a child for something they did not know is wrong. Use that time to explain why they cannot do it. And explain what the punishment is for doing it. Because now, if they do it, it is disobedience, and there is a known consequence for disobeying parents.
  • Set different punishments for different offenses. Remember there is a difference between direct disobedience and helping them overcome childishness. For example: The rule of the house is no running downstairs. So, when an absent-minded child runs down the stairs to open the door for a friend, stop her. Tell her, she has forgotten the rule, so practice. Go back up the stairs and do it again.
  • Set rules. Children of all ages must know what the rules are. Rules, like fences in a yard, give children safe boundaries to play in.

Final Thoughts on Disciplining Children

As parents we often worry that our children will not like us or be mad at us. This can hurt our hearts because we love them so. Don’t let that stop you from giving your child the gift of discipline. When you have a well-behaved child, you have a child who will thrive as the person God created him or her to become.

Today, my children will tell you some of their greatest childhood memories are those of other adults who stepped into their lives, taught them to ride horses, do woodworking, and even drive tractors.

When other adults only see disobedience, and bad behavior, they are robbed of seeing the rich personality you see. The person God is growing inside them. When they see your child, as they truly are, you will be amazed by those who will want to pour into them.

Perhaps most importantly, we want them to love and obey parents they can see, so they will love and obey the God they can’t see.

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