This is a double post, about self-discipline and discipline for kids.
I have very little self-discipline. I've been trying this whole "no added sugar" thing, and completely polished off the leftover cookies from Daniel's birthday party. I start things (exercise programs, flossing my teeth, reading my Bible) and never get into a good enough habit that I continue them. It's frustrating to say the least, but even more so when my husband has the self-discipline of 10 men.
So, I keep chugging along and "try hard" and nothing changes. Here's the real kicker, though: as Christians we are to live as new creations. So my old self will pass away and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. So what's my excuse now? Obviously, I'm human, as we all are, and I have my failings and sin in my life, but maybe instead of "working harder" to improve an area of my life, I just need to love harder, pray harder, and let God do the work He wants to do in me.
Now, to disciplining kids. I have some good things (generally consistency) but I also have some bad things in my discipline strategies. I have all these fabulous people around me who magically discipline their kids while maintaining their calm, cool, and collected voices. That usually lasts me about 10 minutes before I get frustrated and raise my voice. I could use excuses, like a lack of sleep, but I know my kids deserve better.
So, what are some strategies for both of these problems that I'm currently facing? How do I let God do the work in me that He wants and work towards disciplining my kids more pro-actively instead of reactively?
I think part of it comes down to expectations. The higher expectations I set for myself (or my kids) the more quickly I will become frustrated. I am human, they are human. God is doing his work in us, and He will complete it, but we need to be patient and let Him do the work, instead of doing it all ourselves. I have incredibly high expectations for what God can do, but if I lower the expectations for what I can do on my own, He has room to step in and fulfill everything else.
If I'm expecting my kids to be anything other than preschool (or Kindergartners) then I'm not doing them or myself any favors in discipline. I have recently started only addressing behavior if it is inappropriate for their age. Does it really matter if my two boys eat a meal under or on top of the table (they are both pretty safety-conscious at this point)? Does it really "hurt" them to be so involved in their school activity that our schoolroom becomes a complete mess of play and fun and learning? If they end up breaking their toy after I've warned them several times, isn't that punishment enough?
I have also started reviewing rules in certain situations where I know my kids tend to get a little wild and excited (like the library). I can't tell you how thrilled I was when we "stood on the line" on the library sidewalk and reviewed the rules. I asked who knew what our library rules were, and the 2.5 year old piped right up with "walking feet".
I know that God will continue to work in me on more effectively and lovingly disciplining my kids, and myself.
Without love, I am nothing.