LIFE IN BALANCE-Raising Disciplined Children

“Train up a child in the way e should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”- The Bible

Here are a few tips on raising a well- behaved, disciplined child. Now, because my children are little and I am writing from experience, this will apply more to new parents and parents with pre-school children.

1. Take responsibility. Children are primarily taught by their parents especially in the first few years. No preschool is going to do this for you. You have to decide as a parent that there are only two choices: I will be responsible for my child’s discipline or I will be responsible for my child’s discipline.

2.Be realistic. Active disciplining of a child cannot really start before 9 months of age. Prior to that, however, routines should be created so that a child knows what to expect.

3.Be consistent. The Bible says, let your yes, be yes and your no, be no. This applies to child rearing. Something your child does cannot be right today and wrong tomorrow. Do not discipline a child depending on your mood. This creates a confused child. If she pulls the dog’s tail, don’t “time-out” her for it today and laugh about it tomorrow.

4. Be clear. If the consequence for hitting sister is a five minute time out, let your child know that. After a discipline, remind your child what he/she did and why such-and-such discipline was applied. Be concise. Children at that young age do not need a lecture on the original sin of man( 🙂 ).

5. Be disciplined.Be godly. Be disciplined yourself. Be law abiding. Be punctual. Keep your word. Keep your temper. Watch your mouth. Model the types of behavior you expect from your children. If you have a potty mouth, your child will too. If you are friendly your child will probably be too. In case you haven’t noticed, they pick up on your bad behavior more readily than the good behavior.

6. Be age appropriate in your expectations.There are certain behaviors expected from children of certain ages. Bring your child up to speed. A nine month old is expected to cry when sleepy, a five year old is not. A two year old is expected to throw tantrums a four year old is not. A one year old is expected to go “pee-pee” on himself a five year old is not. A three month old can be rocked to sleep, a nine month old should not. A three year old will get messy when they eat, that is not a discipline issue. One of my friends, Popee said to me, “We sometimes expect our children to know things that it took us twenty years to learn”. That gave me something to ponder.

7. Be verbal. Talk to your small children even when it is not an active “disciplining moment” and let them know what your expectations are. For instance while potty training my one year old, I used to tell her,”Big girls go pee-pee in the potty, not in the diaper”. Children usually understand more than we give them credit for. You have to tell them what to do! Do not assume that they know. If you want your child to sit down and not jump around screaming, please, by all means, tell them so. If you want them not to poke a hole in the frosting of the cake, tell them.

8. Be firm. You are the parent. Do not let your child wrest control from you. Do not think, they are too small, they don’t know what they are doing or- here s a favorite one of mine-if I do such-and-such, they will cry. Oh please!!! Get some backbone and do not be wishy-washy! No candy after six pm means no candy after six pm, no matter how much they cry. They will soon get the message.

9. Boundaries. Everyone has to learn at some point that there are things you can do, and there are things you cannot do. It is better for them to learn it now than learn it in a penitentiary. For example it does not matter how angry you are, you cannot hit mommy. I am astounded whenever I see two to three year old children in shopping carts hitting their mom because she said no to them picking up something. How ever did they get it into their heads that that was even an option to consider?! Once I heard a two year old boy say “shut up” to his mother. Guess what? Instead of dealing with the behavior she said, “oh he doesn’t know what he is doing”. I was shocked to my very core! If at the age of six he calls his mom the b-word should we be surprised?

10. Be loving. Do not treat your children with disdain,impatience or disrespect. Children have to know that you love them, no matter what the present situation is. It doesn’t matter if you have to give them ten time-outs in a day. Do not nag them or constantly go on and on about what they did or did not do. Relate with them on their level. Be nice and kind to them. Don’t just feed them, clothe them and send them on their way. Reach out to them, reward good behavior, treat them without partiality, be fair to them. Tell them you love them on a DAILY basis( even when they are grown). Manage your expectations.

Well, friends, hope this helps someone, have a great time with those little angels.

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MARRIAGE- The “give and take” fallacy 3

What I call the “give and take” fallacy is the thinking that your spouse has to “just know” what you need without you having to communicate. It is the feeling that your spouse will be always perfect and if they are not, you can withdraw your love. In the concluding part of the write-up I will be talking about not frustrating your spouse and not building things up in your mind. Read on.

1. Do not frustrate your spouse: Yes, we know you are a flawed, imperfect human being, but that does not mean you cannot change. If you are Mr. Slob and you married Miss Neat Freak(you probably would not have married her otherwise), you can make an effort to pick up after yourself, it will not hurt your pride if you pick your wet towel off the bed. If you leave the toilet seat up and your spouse does not like it, make a mental note to start putting it down. If you know your husband does not like beans but you love them, stop serving them to him. When you frustrate your spouse continually, he/she can start to distance him/herself from the frustrating behavior, eventually distancing themselves from you.As you can see, from here walls can start to come up in your marriage and down the line the marriage can break up!
Do not frustrate your spouse by not making an effort to change behaviors that they do not like.

Avoid building things up in your mind: Let me give an example from my own life. My husband came home from work one day, and dropped his keys on the air conditioning unit. No big deal, right ? Here is the backstory. I was a housewife at the time and pretty much all had to do the whole the whole day was clean, cook and try to decorate our home. On that day, I had just put some little curios on the air conditioning unit(because I felt it looked rather bare), to decorate it. When those keys hit the unit, I thought to myself: “Look at that! Not only did he not notice/verbalize the fact that I worked hard to make the house look nice, he threw his keys on my work. He doesn’t even notice anything I do around here. Does he think I am his slave? If he really cared about me he would appreciate what I do around here. If he really loved me and appreciated me, he wouldn’t just toss his keys anywhere, he’s so ungrateful, etc, etc”. Unfortunately or fortunately( 🙂 ) I did not mention this to him but I carried the “he doesn’t love me” phrase in my head and I was angry for days! All that the man did was to put his keys down! Do you see what I mean, friends? Your spouse is not your enemy. Not everything your spouse does or says has a deeper meaning behind it. Do not immediately jump to wrong conclusions over innocuous things.

Well, this concludes this three part series. Hope it helps someone’s marriage improve.
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Have a blessed one!

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MARRIAGE- The “give and take” fallacy 2

In part one, I talked about loving your spouse wether you felt they deserved it or not. I also talked about communication( with a link to a previous article on communication). Today I will be writing about a couple of things which will serve as reality checks on this journey called marriage.
When we “fall in love”, our spouse can do no wrong and we are so attuned to each other, perfect for each other, finish each others’ sentences, blah, blah, blah, ad nauseum. After being married a few months to years we realize that our idol indeed has feet of clay! Our spouse falls from the pedestal of perfection that we once put them on, as we discover their faults, foibles and failings. Realize these two things:

1. Your spouse will irritate you: Yes, they will sometimes annoy you no end, irritate you like an itchy rash; and infuriate you beyond words. That sounds pessimistic! Well it is true. If you are married you would have had fights; you will know that two people, no matter how in-love they are, sometimes disagree. Sometimes people have habits that are annoying to the other person, for no other reason than the person is different. Do not take your spouse’s age old bad habits( throwing socks on the floor, squeezing toothpaste from the middle, leaving soap on the bathroom walls, not flushing the toilet, belching loudly, picking their nose, scratching, talking loudly, losing their keys, untidiness) as a personal attack or a sign that they do not love you. It is not. It is just them. They were like that before you married them, but your rose-colored spectacles were still on and now, you have taken them off! If you go into marriage thinking you will never have a fight, you are wrong. If you are married and your spouse has not annoyed you yet, you are probably still at your honeymoon. 😀
Bottom line is, your wife/husband will do things you don’t like and you can let them know(NICELY) what the issue is. This takes me to my next point.

2. “If you really loved me, I would not have to tell you…..” Hold it right there! So, some people( mostly ladies) think that if their husbands loved them, they(husband ) would automatically know the wife’s needs without having to be told. I used to think that way myself ( 🙂 ). For some reason I thought that if my husband loved me as much as he claimed to, that I would not have to ask him to help with the dishes, or pick up his socks, or take me out to dinner. “He should just know”, I thought. How erroneous! You still have to talk. You still have to be vocal about what your needs are. If someone does not even know what you want from them, how can they do it for you/ give it to you? Now the usual countering argument to this is that, “if I have to tell them, then want is the point? If I have to tell my husband to take me out to dinner, then it doesn’t feel like he wants to”. My answer to that is “Says who?” This may seem like a good argument on the face of it, but it is all Hollywood, friends. The counter argument would be that since both parties are working together for the common good of the marriage, it doesn’t matter who suggests date night, or who buys the flowers for who, or wether you ask your hubby to wash the dishes or put the children to bed. Remember, however that asking is meant to be as a request and NOT a demand.
Please do not assume that loving you ascribes omniscience to your spouse.

Watch out for the concluding segment of The Give and Take Fallacy

Related links:
What’s love go to do with it?
Marriage-The give and take fallacy

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Marriage-The “give and take” fallacy

In marriages today, after the initial “honeymoon” excitement has worn off, people can start to get selfish. Where they once lived to please the other person, now it’s just a case of, “Well you aren’t meeting my needs”; or “I’ll do this when you do that”; or “I will submit to him when he loves me the way I want to be loved”. What I call The Give And Take Fallacy comes into play. This is where spouses decide that they will only give if they are getting in return.
The truth is, that attitude is a marriage killer. Marriage vows are not conditional upon the behavior of your spouse. Now, the scope of this piece does not cover extreme cases such as abuse( of any kind), mental health disorders, substance abuse, infidelity, and issues in which professional help needs to be sought. This is more about the day to day little things that if not taken care of can lead to frustration, resentment and a joyless marriage.

1. It does not matter if they deserve it: So your husband forgets your birthday and you withhold sex. Right? Wrong! Your wife burns your dinner and you give her the silent treatment. Fair? Not fair! Your husband doesn’t tell you he loves you three months in a row. What do you do? Keep being your ever loving self! What! What about my needs? Here is the answer: Keep being good to your spouse even at times when you feel like they don’t “deserve” it. Do it with a good attitude too. Why? Because that is the only way that things will turn around. Your spouse will respond better to your loving actions than your unloving ones. Your spouse will respond much better to being treated nicely than being treated with disdain. The bottom line is this: True love is a commitment not a feeling. When the initial passion wears off and loving actions do not come so easily, remember that it is not about wether they deserve it or not. It is about you keeping the commandment of God to love and seeing what you want come to pass in your marriage, not by nagging, criticizing, complaining, demanding or withholding love; but by being patient, kind, giving, and totally sold out to meeting the needs of your spouse.

2. Communication: I can sense the next question: What if they take me for granted? This brings me to this point. Communicate to your spouse, in a way that they will hear and respond, what you feel the issues are. Notice that I did not say: “Tell them how you feel” or “Get it all off your chest” or “Tell ’em like it is”. Communicate to YOUR spouse in a way that HE/SHE will hear and respond. How do I know how they will hear? That is for you to find out. Here are some general ideas. Don’t shout, nag, rant or inject a contemptuous tone into your voice. Avoid phrases like “you never” “you always”, “why don’t you just”. Don’t try to “talk” during the game. Don’t try to “talk” during her time-of-the-month. Don’t try to talk when someone is walking in through the door. If you know your spouse in crabby in the mornings don’t bother.
An example is as follows: “Remember how we used to go for a walk every week? It would be great if we could start doing that again. It makes me feel more connected to you”.
A BAD way of saying the same thing would be: “You are too busy for me. We don’t even go for walks like we used to. You’ve become boring. I wonder if you love me more than that job of yours”.

It is easy to see which of these would get a positive response.

Read my post on communication:
Saying It Right

Watch out for the next segment of this write-up.

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LIFE IN BALANCE-New Year Resolutions or Realistic Goal Setting?

There is nothing magical, spiritually significant, or special about the first day of January except the significance that we ourselves attach to it. I like to remind myself that the Gregorian calendar is man made and was a reform of a previous calendar( the Julian calendar) which was itself a reform of the Roman calendar . There are also in use many different calendars( the lunar calendar, Igbo calendar, Hebrew calendar, the Chinese calendar etc) in use, side by side with the Gregorian. The point I am making is that you do not have to “make new year resolutions” ; you do not have to fall into despair at the end of the year; and you do not have to wait until the first of January to make the changes that you need to make in life.

The first of January is however, a convenient time to set goals, and , the span of a year is a good time to review those goals you set( depending on what those goals are).
Here are a few tips for setting goals and seeing them come to pass:

1. Set goals: This may seem obvious but you have to actually set goals for what you want to accomplish. What does it meant to set goals? This is not mere wishing. For instance saying, “I wish I could lose some weight” is not a goal. It is just that, a wish. At the end of the year, if you do not lose the weight because you never set a goal to do so, don’t be surprised. There are long term goals, eg “I want to sell 10,000 copies of my book by June”. There are short term goals eg “By next week I want to have cleaned out my garage”.

2. Set realistic goals: Only you can know what is realistic to you. For instance, a goal to save 100,000 by the end of the year may be realistic to someone who is a millionaire but not a struggling student. Goals that are too extreme set you up for failure and disappointment. It is better to “underwhelm” 🙂 yourself than overwhelm yourself.

3. Be specific: “I wanna to lose some weight” is different from “I am going to lose 10 lbs in the next 6 months.” Do not be vague. A specific goal is measurable while a nonspecific one is reduced to the level of a mere wish.

4. Make plans to achieve your goals: If you want to lose 10 pounds, join a gym, eat more healthy foods. If you want to change careers you may need to go back to school. If you want a better relationship with God you will need to spend more time in prayer and the Word. If you want to write a book you will need to pick up a pen( or laptop or iPad) and start writing……make a plan

5. Write it down: Written words definitely have more power than when they are just thoughts in your head. Write your goals and look at them everyday. It will keep you on track.

Well, Happy New Year everyone. Be blessed

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LIFE IN BALANCE- I have a secret

4.Wisdom: Trust God for wisdom to deal with the situation; wisdom for wise counsel; and wisdom for true friends in your time of crisis. Use wisdom to truly know the difference between a big problem and a minor issue that does not need to be talked about.

5.Seek help, not catharsis: Is it better to vent your feelings to your blabber mouth friends; or to talk to a trustworthy person who will not divulge? Is it better to vent your feelings to your well-meaning but overly emotional friends or to talk to an objective pastor, counsellor or mentor? If you need to talk to a medical professional, by all means do so. The point is to seek help, not catharsis.

6. Don’t hang on to the past: After you have “gone through” , go on. Do not let past tragedy, guilt, shame and defeat define you. Do not hang on to your old hurts; do not replay your past mistakes. Do everything you can not to stay in a bitter, stuck, resentful place.

7. Help others with your story: Your past can help others heal, even if it is just to encourage them; to show others that there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, all sharing should be done in wisdom. To help others by using yourself as an example, you have to have successfully “won” whatever “battle” it is you were facing. Do not use “helping others” as an excuse to tell all and sundry about your woes( see previous post).

Have a blessed week!

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LIFE IN BALANCE- I have a secret

* I don’t usually do two posts in a day, but unbeknownst to me my last post didn’t post!*

So. We have all been there. You have a problem. It could be a sin. It could be a bad habit. It could be a challenge. It could be the weight of guilt and shame for things that you did or were done to you in the past. Whatever it is, it is hard to deal with. You need someone to talk to. You need help working through the issue or the bitter, hard emotions that come with it. Whom do you talk to? Should you tell anyone at all?
This will help:

1. Talk to God: For starters tell God what your problems are and trust Him for a solution. God is big enough to dissolve your issues into nothingness and give you peace over things of the past. In Christ there is no guilt and shame, no condemnation. Talk to God about your feelings and trust Him to take your pain and turn it into joy.

2 Don’t tell all to all: Do not run from person to person, rehearsing your problems, issues, failures and guilt. Where did we all get the idea that the more we talk about a problem, they better we feel? That is really not true. For starters, that is a sure way to perpetuate the problem. Secondly, you will hear all kinds of different opinions which will confuse you. Third, not everyone has your best interests at heart and some people may purposefully give you wrong advice.

3. Don’t tell nothing to no one: Do not stuff your stuff. Negative emotions buried alive only eat you up inside and come out in negative ways, affecting your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. If you are in over your head, find a trusted person, who you look up to and talk to them. Everyone needs someone to talk to at certain points in their lives. Seeking help does not mean you are weak. Talking to someone does NOT mean talk to all and sundry.

…..to be continued……

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