God wants us to be dedicated to our child’s learning and to train them in ways that point to conduct that pleases him. But training is hard work, and it’s easy to become discouraged, exhausted, and frazzled. How we train our child matters. Listen in for 8 doable training tips!
Resources for Episode 14: Training Tips to Discipline Your Child
- Proverbs 22:6
- Simple Steps Episode 12
- Join me on Instagram @teresadglenn
- Grab a copy of my book Becoming A Peaceful Mom ~ Through Every Season of Raising Your Child
Read Episode 14 Transcript
When we train a child, we provide opportunities for her to rehearse our instruction, to try, to practice, to experience our response, and to learn. Training also includes prayer, permission to mess up, and praise—all to instill what we teach. It can be exhausting, discouraging, and shred every ounce of patience that we thought we had. And, it can be rewarding, encouraging, and strengthen our skills to-train-our-child in the future.
God shares clear direction for us about training through Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
God wants us to be dedicated to their learning and to train them in ways that point to conduct that pleases him. God has given-you the-privilege to participate with him in teaching, training, and shaping the will of your child and preparing him to live in this world. That is a big deal. . . and a big responsibility.
Yes, you will get tired—tired of repeating yourself, of being disappointed, discouraged, or disobeyed, of feeling like a failure. Challenges like this are opportunities to experience how intimate your relationship with God can be. Here’s what I mean: Dear God, I’m exhausted. Is she ever going to stop this? I know I love her deep down, but I don’t feel it lately. I give you my feelings. Please fill me with your love. Restore me. Help me love her with your love.
When you get your feelings out of the way and invite God’s love fill you, get ready to be amazed. He will lead you to shift your hope from what your child can do and to place your hope in him and what he can do — in your child and in you.
Your child can get tired, too. Sometimes his themes may be the same as yours, but for different reasons: He may wear down because he’s tired of feeling like a disappointment or failure to you, of being compared to someone, of never getting it right. Pray for his heart, for God’s help to him, for his relationship with God.
Also, I want to repeat something I said in Episode 12: Discipline is not a formula to follow. Discipline is about relationship: first, between God and us; next, between our child and us; and hopefully one day between God and our child. So, when God disciplines (or instructs) us to train up a child, he wants us to do this with him, in relationship, to rely on him in all the details.
It can be helpful to ask our self periodically, “Am I participating with God, or am I hoping that he participates with me?” Every time I felt wiped out with training a child, eventually I would realize how little I was relying on God, and instead, doing my own thing or staring down my child expecting him to get it right. God knows we need him. He wants us to know this.
How we train matters.
In the process, we want a child to learn to honor and respect us. This is essential in the home. It also equips a child to honor and respect other adults outside the home. I’ll talk more about “respect” in a future podcast. Today, I want to briefly mention 3 ways not to train:
1. Manipulation: You promise your child something he values, if he obeys you. “If you clean your room, I’ll pay you.”
2. Intimidation: You warn your child with a fear tactic. “If you don’t come now, I’m going to leave you here.”
3. Yelling: “I said to get over here NOW!!”
None of these reflect how God trains us to respect and honor his teaching and training. And he intends that we, as parents, are primary vessels to help our child understand respect and honor. We lean toward these other methods when we’re emotionally spent or feel like our child won’t obey us otherwise.
So, I hope that the following suggestions for training are helpful.
5 Things to Think About:
1. Check your attitude. It will show out in your face, words, and tone.
2. How you train reflects your character and influences the development of the child’s character.
3. God trains you, as you train your child. Have you ever said something like, I know I shouldn’t yell. (or) I have the hardest time being patient? Every training moment with a child is our ‘training’ opportunity to practice relying on God.
4. Things that were easy for you, or interesting to you, to learn as a child might not be easy or interesting for your child to learn.
5. Don’t compare a child’s ability to learn something to her siblings or to her peers. One child may learn something right way. Another may need more steps, more practice, or a different approach. (ex) One child may like order and neatness, so he’s receptive to learning how to put clean clothes in his drawer. But, his brother is indifferent about neatness, so a different approach and longer training might be needed.
8 Training Tips:
1. Study your child to learn her learning style. Consider her past performance—what worked and what didn’t. Set expectations accordingly. In other words, think back to the Proverbs verse about training a child in the way he should go. This also means to train a child according to how God has designed or wired her.
2. Speak encouragement before you begin: “I know you can learn this. You’re ready; I can tell. And I’ll help you.”
3. Cheer effort: “Don’t worry; you’ll learn to tie your shoes. You’re trying, and that’s what matters.” (or) “You handled that so much better this time. I know it’s hard when you don’t think something is fair.”
4. Cheer small and big success: You shared your cookies, and no one told you to! – “I saw that! Way to go!” (or) ” You listened quietly the whole time she talked! – “I knew you could do it!”
5. Set your child up for success. When a child experiences success, his confidence to learn grows. Consider his age and current abilities. (ex) As our kids became capable, I began to turn some of my tasks into their responsibilities as members of our family, and they learned more life skills. One of these was settling the table for supper. Here’s a 4-step strategy that I found helpful, but I didn’t move to the next step until I sensed the child was ready.
- Do it for him and let him watch
- Do it with him
- Watch him do it and praise each small success
- Let him try it without you in the room
6. Develop a plan. Devise simple steps that you-can-follow-through-on and the child can remember. Use words or phrases for training that make sense to your child. (ex) Our kids were around each other a lot. Sometimes they got along great, but other days the teasing, bothering, and TATTLING about undid me. So, I came up with a plan to address the 2 main issues: respect and dealing with conflict.
1st: I sat all 3 of them down and gave them my instructions. When someone teases or bothers you, you need to learn to tell them with a strong voice to stop. When someone tells you to stop, you need to learn to respect them and stop. This is my rule, so if you don’t follow it and stop, then you’re not respecting me and you’re not respecting each other. If you tell someone to stop and they don’t respect you, then come to me and I will deal with it.
2nd: Each child repeated my new ‘stand up for yourself’ response: “Stop it. I don’t like it. You’re making me mad.”
3rd: We rehearsed with pretend scenarios. After that day, anytime a child began to tattle, I would interrupt, “Wait. Did you say what you’re supposed to say?” “No….” “You know what you have to do. Go back, look at him, and say it.”
Many times, the child followed through and I would let out a soft, Yesss! But if the child who was told to stop, ignored his sibling’s words, he would come get me and I would follow up with something like, “You didn’t respect your brother when he said to stop, and you didn’t respect my rule, so you’ll have to have a consequence for that.
YES, this was draining and sometimes discouraging to me. But God was at work—in me and in our kids. I could tell I was leaning on him more, even asking him to help my young kids remember the sentences and steps. I asked him to help me encourage a child when he followed through. And mostly I prayed that they would learn to respect each other and how to stand up for themselves.
In the midst of training, God shapes the child’s character and ours and develops our relationship. Keep in mind that sometimes the teaching and training of the simplest things is the path to helping a child learn how to follow instructions, experience success, and desire to learn and try more.
7. Pray for your child: (ex) You want your child to respond more quickly when you give a direction. Pray silently during the day: “Jesus, help him do what I say more quickly and see how it blesses me. Grow his heart more teachable.”
8. Pray with your child: (For ex, I might say this) “I know it can be hard to stop what you’re doing when I call you, but it is important for you to learn to obey. When something is hard for me, I ask for God to help me. So let’s each say a prayer and ask for God’s help.”
Your prayer is an opportunity for the child to hear you depend on God and to hear how you care for her: (ex) “Dear God, I’m glad I can talk to you when I need help. I ask that you will help Beth learn to obey when I call her. Thank you. Amen.” Then gently say to your child , “Okay, your turn to ask for God’s help.” And pray silently that he will pray.
Training is hard work. It requires perseverance, and guess what, God is growing this powerful trait in you. He believes in you.