At our Mom's Time Out group today, we talked a little bit about being fair in our expectations of our Toddlers. We all struggle with deciding when discipline is appropriate vs. when further instruction is necessary.
Often I find myself telling my daughter to "Listen to Mommy" or "Behave". But more and more I feel that using those terms is too broad and not fair to her. I don't believe a child that young has the mental maturity to list in her mind the rules I've set for her, determine which rule she is breaking and stop that act. Colossians 3:21 says: Fathers do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
I believe that if I am too broad in my instructions, I am just setting her up for failure and she will become discouraged.Clear, brief and direct instruction is what I have focused more on lately. Our daily routine, and most especially before going on an outing, we review her rules for appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Her list currently includes: Share. Be nice to kids. No hitting. No pushing. No screaming. No standing, climbing or jumping on furniture. All of these she repeats with me, nodding or shaking her head at the appropriate places.
Consistency is so important to being a fair and graceful parent. If I discipline my child when instruction would have been more appropriate, I am being unfair and will cause resentment in my child. Ephesians 6:4 tells me "Don't make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord." Likewise, if I instruct my child, when discipline would have been more appropriate, I am being irresponsible in my parenting. Proverbs 13:24 says " He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him."
One mom suggested an If..Then Chart. It's a three columned chart that lists the misbehavior (the IF), the verse related to why the behavior needs to be corrected, and the consequence (the THEN) that you can fill in. It holds both the parent and child responsible, helping to keep expectations clear and discipline fair. I thought it was great and plan to use one in my home.