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10 Ways to Jumpstart New Discipline Techniques with Your Kids

10 Ways to Jumpstart New Discipline Techniques with Your Kids

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6

When you become a parent, you become entrusted by God to raise one or more of his children, which is no small task! And I don’t know about you, but I feel absolutely bombarded with discipline advice that leaves me feeling like a D+ parent, at best.

But what if instead of trying to force other parents’ rules on our family, we simplified discipline into a few principles to help guide children in a way that fits our family’s needs? These guidelines won’t tell you the rules you should or shouldn’t set for your kids, but instead equip you to implement rules that you decide on.

It’s time to stop taking advice from others and start focusing on how God is asking you to raise your children. Here are 10 ways to do just that.

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  • 1. Pray about it.

    1. Pray about it.

    As with anything, you should pray before diving into a new discipline routine. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in deciding what rules and behaviors to focus on, and to help you prioritize what’s most important in your family.

    Pray for yourself as a parent. Give praise to God for allowing you the privilege to raise some of his children as your own. Ask for strength to implement your discipline changes, even when it results in toddler tantrums, slammed doors, and the dreaded words, “I hate you.”

    Pray for your children. Ask the Lord to protect your children and to place in their heart a yearning for a relationship with him. Pray that your children will grow up to wear the full armor of God and demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit

    It may not be easy, but anything is possible with the Lord on your side.

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  • 2. Get on the same page as your spouse.

    2. Get on the same page as your spouse.

    When you and your spouse live in different discipline worlds, you not only confuse your children, but you also invite the opportunity for heated arguments between the two of you. No, you don't need to have identical parenting styles. You're two different people! But you do need to work as one unit. A cohesive (and mutually agreed upon) plan is a vital part of parenting.

    If you feel a dissonance in the discipline department, find some quiet time to discuss where you differ. Make sure, however, this isn’t in the throes of a heated argument. Find a time where you both are cool-tempered and level-headed.

    And if you’re raising your child without a spouse, first off, way to go! That’s no easy feat. Second off, make sure you have this conversation with any adult that is helping you raise your child. This could be your parents, a nanny, or even a trusted neighbor!

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  • 3. Ease into it.

    3. Ease into it.

    Depending on the age or temperament of your kids, new discipline tactics could present a significant adjustment on their end. Remember that your kids are, well, kids. They don’t have a fully formed adult brain yet, and it may take them a bit of time to adjust to the new rules of their world. Try your best to be patient and kind. Once you’ve remained consistent for a while, your child will begin to understand the rules and consequences better. They will know that if they do this, then that happens.

    Overall, just remember that change is hard for adults and kids alike. New habits take time to form. But by modeling how to handle change in a positive fashion, you’re equipping your kids to view change as an opportunity, not a punishment.

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  • 4. Consistency is key.

    4. Consistency is key.

    When there’s a change in policy at work, how often do you find your HR department slipping back into old ways? The answer is hopefully not very often. Once a decision is made, you continue moving forward under that new policy. How confusing would it be for your boss to tell you one thing and then do another?

    The same is true with discipline for children. Once you’ve laid down the rules, you need to enforce them consistently. If you keep sliding back into old ways, your kids will have no idea what the rules actually are. Whether that's telling your preschooler that toys must be tidied up before watching TV or telling your high schooler that video games are a no-go until all homework is complete, you need to stick to the new rules.  

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  • 5. Be specific.

    5. Be specific.

    It’s so easy to give your kids instructions that seem so clear to you, only to have the directions go entirely over their heads. (I'm guilty of this at least a dozen times a day!)

    One thing that helps when creating disciple with your children is to be overly, painstakingly specific. This helps open the lines of clear communication and assists your child in understanding what is expected of them.

    For instance, instead of telling your preteen to make their bed, you can explicitly ask them to make sure their comforter is straight, and the pillows are at the head of the bed. Or maybe you heard your preschooler call someone “stupid.” Instead of saying, “Don't say that,” try explaining, “We don’t call people ‘stupid’ because that is an unkind thing to say, and it might make someone sad.” These more specific instructions create precise guidelines.

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  • 6. Involve your kids.

    6. Involve your kids.

    When it comes to developing new household habits, you’ll increase your chances of success when you invite kids into the process of setting the standards. Give them ownership over their responsibilities, and provide them with an opportunity to discuss any concerns with you. 

    Involving the kids is going to look different for each family, depending on the ages of the kids. With preschool-aged children, encourage them to help set guidelines for being a kind family member. Ask what are some things friends do that make them happy (sharing, giving hugs, giving compliments, etc.) and what are some things that make them sad (name calling, hitting, yelling). Give older children input into their routine and weekly chores. This meeting also creates open discussions with teenagers on topics like curfew. 

    Giving your kids some say fosters family unity, but always remember that the adults have final say on rules and consequences.

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  • 7. Follow through.

    7. Follow through.

    One of the most critical aspects of setting a new discipline routine is the follow through. If you say there’s going to be a consequence, there needs to be a consequence. Empty threats may work the first few times, but soon kids catch on that they’ll get off the hook, scot free. 

    As a parent, you’re charged with teaching your kids that there are consequences for our actions in life. If we want our children to grow up to understand that the choices they make carry a cost, we need to start teaching them this principle while their young. 

    Plus, you want to make sure that you’re teaching your kids there's truth behind the words we say. Every time you forgo the follow-through, you’re watering down the validity of all that you say. It won’t take long for your kids to challenge your word more and more.

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  • 8. Practice what you preach.

    8. Practice what you preach.

    I can’t be the only parent who’s guilty of “Do what I say, not what I do” parenting from time to time. I tell my girls to leave their shoes at the door as I quickly sprint through the house in boots, justifying that it’s okay because I’m the one who’ll clean the floors anyways. 

    If you’re finding it difficult to practice what you preach, consider these two things: is there a reason why you aren’t able to follow through, and could that reason be valid for your kids, too?

    Maybe the house rules include getting chores and homework done right after school, but you forgo the dishes to plop down on the couch post-work. Seems a bit like a double standard, doesn’t it? I know work is exhausting, but a school day can be just as tiring for your kids. Why not try having a 15-minute refresh period when you get home? Let everyone veg out for a few minutes, and then get cranking on what needs to get done.

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  • 9. Use positive reinforcements.

    9. Use positive reinforcements.

    Positive reinforcements work wonders for children and adults alike. I mean—who doesn’t like to hear they’re doing a fantastic job?! 

    Too often as parents we focus only on how our kids are falling short of our behavioral goals for them. Imagine how much more positive our parenting could be if we were focusing on all the ways they were exceeding our expectations. 

    So when your kids get something right, celebrate it! Let them know that you noticed they picked up their toys when they were done playing. Give your teen a “that-a-boy” for returning the car… with gas! Tell your toddler that it made you so happy when she listened to you the first time you asked her to do something. Once children receive affirmation, they’re more likely to continue on the right track.

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  • 10. Have grace.

    10. Have grace.

    You and your kids both have those days. You know what I’m talking about. The kind of day when everything seems to go wrong. You forget your coffee in the microwave and don’t realize it until you’re on your way to school with your child. That is the moment she discovers her math book is on the kitchen table with her homework stuck inside the cover. You turn around to get it and now you are both late and grumpy. The day only seems to go downhill from there. 

    If your kid seems especially moody, ask yourself why. Maybe she found out a friend was talking behind her back. Maybe she didn’t sleep well. Maybe she’s being flooded with hormones and hasn’t figured out how to handle them yet. 

    If you seem especially moody, ask yourself why. Maybe you are still upset that you got passed over for a promotion. Maybe your marriage has felt a little rocky lately. Maybe you are feeling far away from God. 

    The point is, while consistency is key 99 percent of the time, there are moments where extra grace is needed. Wrap your child up in a hug and remind her of your love.

    Lindsey Brady is a wife and stepmother who loves to spend time in nature or going for long runs. When she's feeling a bit more sedentary, she'll watch an entire season of any Food Network show in a single sitting. You can follow her on Instagram at real.slim.brady

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