One of the challenges of parenting and dealing with children is discipline. At times it can be difficult to know what to do to rein in a child and help them to mend their ways. The biggest challenge comes from knowing that what works for one child, may not work for the next. The learning curve is steep and constantly changing.
Personally, I love the challenge. I can’t think of a better mental stimulation than staying one or two steps ahead of my child. It keeps things interesting. Although I only have one child of my own, I do work in the children’s program at church each week. There I find a veritable field of choices to make in discipline that is continually creative and unexpected.
Let’s take one particular week for example. I had a three year old boy lock himself in the girls’ bathroom. The bathroom is made for small children, so everything is much smaller than you would normally find in a public restroom. The song leader had taken him down to use the restroom and within minutes, she had returned with a “Tag, you’re it…”
I went to the restroom to retrieve the child and quickly realized that he had locked both of the stall doors. Have you ever tried reasoning with a 3 year old? It isn’t easy.
I asked him to please come out and he replied with a firm “No!”
I asked again, and he replied, “Go get my mom and dad!”
Now here is where creative discipline can be fun…
“Well, since you want me to get your mom and dad, I’m not going to.”
“Go get them!”
“No. But I will count to three and if you don’t come out, I’m going to climb under the stall.”
“You can’t fit under here. You are too big.”
“No, I’m not. One…”
“Yes you are too big!”
“Get my mom and dad.”
The look on his face was priceless as I slid under the stall. His eyes were as round as the Nerf ball that we was playing with. I calmly took him by the hand, unlocked the door and marched him back down the hall to his class. He asked when he could see his mom and dad and I told him after church.
Another instance was with a boy that was 7 years old. He was acting up and refusing to sit in his chair and listen to his teacher. I chatted with him for a few minutes and discovered that something he would really like was to receive a letter in the mail. I made a deal with him that if he would behave for the rest of church that day, that I would write and mail him a letter. He was angelic as a 7 year old boy can possibly be the rest of the day.
Creative parenting and discipline is simply learning how to listen to your children. Then once you are inside of their heads and how they think, coming up with a solution that they will least expect. Then you must always follow through. It is fun. It is challenging. Most important of all…it works. Every time.