I recently heard an interesting observation about warfare that inspired me to inspect my “battle plan” for parenting. The speaker related how a general’s battle plan changed according to the weaponry used by the enemy. A battle plan would be different if the enemy was mounting a ground attack with machine guns versus an air attack. Note: I do not consider my children the enemy, but bad manners and inappropriate behavior most definitely are!
Each of my children have very distinct personalities; thus they usually need to be disciplined a bit differently. While giving my older son an extra chore is discipline to him, giving my daughter an extra chore is something she actually enjoys (no, I’m not really sure why this motivates her, but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts!).
My younger son who came into our family through adoption requires different handling due to separation issues. Recently, in frustration, I foolishly told my boys that I was going to send them to Illinois to spend some time with Grandma to give me a break! My older son laughed and thought it was a great idea. My younger son, however, collapsed in tears and was devastated that I would send him away. I quickly assured him that I was not serious and was wrong to say such a thing. But it pierced my heart to think how my hasty words had caused him pain. It helped me realize that I need to take a look at my kids’ distinct God-given personalities to love and shape them into who God created them to be.
I also need to adjust my parenting as they age. Redirection worked better for my daughter when she was a year old than it does now that she’s eight. When she was three and I sent her to her room, she was thrilled because she had so many toys to play with! Now she finds it restricting.
When I begin to notice that I need to revise my discipline techniques, I pull out the book Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel (aka Blair from the TV show The Facts of Life, who is now a homeschooling pastor’s wife). It has an index in the back listing behaviors with the corresponding advice for correcting it. My favorite feature is the “Toolbox” at the end of each chapter with scripture verses addressing the behavior and correction. Not only does this book help me address my children’s behavior according to their age and personality, it helps me apply correction biblically. And God has also used it to apply a little correction to my behavior, too!