Here is part II to Annette's question from Live, Learn, Love. "How do I handle discipline?"
You would think with five children I would be a pro of sorts about discipline, but the fact of the matter is, I'm not. I hate discipline, whether it be in my own life or in the lives of my children, but unfortunately it is unavoidable. It's one of those things that God directs us to step out of our comfort zone to do. I would say it is one of my biggest struggles as a mom, followed by what to fix for lunch. It's one of those areas where I clearly see my faults and I wish I were better with follow-through and that I didn't yell all the stinkin' time.
Like everything else with motherhood, it seems like the disagreeable behavior seems to be cyclic. Right now I'm dealing with Keely not listening the first time around, the same problem I had with Ryleigh a year ago. Brynna is having the issue of trying to be the mama and constantly correcting and discipline the little ones, something I had to have a heart-to-heart with Jace about 6 months ago. And just like every other stage in dealing with children, when you are in the throes of it, it seems endless and overwhelming.
The one think I think I do well regarding discipline, is back Brian up when he corrects the children. Even when I don't agree with him or his method, my poker face is on and I stand behind his decision. This is not to say that we don't have discussions later about it, or that I don't do "eye messages" when the kids backs are turned, but I believe in providing a united front. Brian and my other strong suit is that we choose our battles. We try not to get hung up on little things. We try to focus on the core values of our family. Do they obey us? Are they being respectful of others? Are their words and actions loving? I love how the Duggars use the acronym of JOY (Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself third), when I remember to use it, I do.
Punishment for the above mentioned infractions result in a time-out, a paddle (depending on severity and times of repeating myself) or loss of something important, privileges for the older kids and treats for the younger ones. These consequences are normally prefaced by a warning , "Don't do _______", followed by a, "I'm going to beat the living tar out of you if you don't listen", a "I'm going to paddle you into next week, now stop it," or "Do I need to lay the smack down?" (Annette, these are the empty threats I was telling you about.) After I blow off steam along with my self-confessed horrible sayings, I finish up with the correct punishment.
As for tantrums, I've never (knock on wood) had a child have a major meltdown in public, at least not one that I can remember (you'll see why below). We do have them at home on occasion. I tell them to stop or they can go in their room. If they continue I ignore them, if it still continues I pick them up and put them in either their crib (Vance) or in their bedroom (Keely) until they stop it with the crying, flailing, and all-around-fit-throwing. With Keely I actually have to stand outside her bedroom door holding the door shut until she gives up with her escape plan. It's awful, but after she cries it out and calms down we can talk and I can get an apology. Normally when we are at this point, it's because she is too dang tired to reason.
Speaking of tired, I try not to overload my kids. Major grocery shopping is done by myself on nights or weekends. If I have errands to run, I limit how many I can do at one outing and plan to do the most boring and difficult one first so that there is something to look forward to. This might make me run into town more than once a week but doing two days of three or four errands is far less stressful for everyone and is well worth the gas and anxiety I feel as I break out into a sweaty mess when my kids begin to run a muck.