I think the only discipline worth having is self-discipline. Do any of us like being told what to do and when?

As I began to write this morning, it occurred to me that discipline must come from the Latin for disciple.

A disciple I thought is someone in training to become what their master is. Like Jesus and his disciples.

I looked it up.

Dictionary.com had this to say:



1. training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.
2. activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training: A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer.
3. punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.
4. the rigor or training effect of experience, adversity, etc.: the harsh discipline of poverty.
5. behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control: good discipline in an army.

Way down on the bottom it did say:

1175–1225; Middle English  < Anglo-French  < Latin disciplīna  instruction, tuition, equivalent to discipul ( us ) disciple + -ina -ine

So I was right.

But I’m going to go with definition #2.

Activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.

I’ll add that #1 is a close second!
Training to act in accordance with rules.

Children need to know the rules. I also tended to teach my children which rules they could break.

ALWAYS stop on red.
SOMETIMES it’s ok to not brush your teeth.
ALWAYS say please and thank you.
SOMETIMES it’s ok to have desert before dinner.

Remember, I’m talking about raising children here.
There is no NEED for military discipline.
We PRAY they are spared from the discipline of poverty,
and  about the last definition ” punishment”,
see previous post.

Short answer, DON’T.
See previous post.

Short answer, it’s not our job.

We are here to HELP our children find the strength of character to become SELF-disciplined.

They need to get themselves up, get themselves dressed.
Attend to their own bodily functions.
And feed themselves.

Most of us in countries where obesity is epidemic, know that we do a LOT of emotional eating.
Our mothers, not knowing what to do with their anxiety, let alone their children’s, do what most of them know how to do, they COOK.

They are occupied and busy so their anxiety goes down.
But now they have  made food that SOMEBODY has to eat!
Luckily, for my children I didn’t like to cook.

Matthew 4:4 says,
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Their father was the bread maker and short order cook and I was their huggable mother and Guru.

When they would come to me upset about anything, we’d talk about it.
Sometimes their problems were an easy fix.
They didn’t know the resources they had available to them. I’d do anything I could to help fix it or find someone who could.

Then there were the times there was no fix. It was just the pain of growing up in the world.
After letting them vent until the story had been repeated 2 or three times, I’d say,

“Take a hot bath, and go to bed. If you still feel this way in the morning, we’ll see what we can do.”

Off they’d go with their heart lighter because they had vented.
IMPORTANT part parents!
It might make you uncomfortable to hear your child is suffering but you have to let them tell you!
Telling them, “Oh, don’t be silly. You aren’t weird, fat, skinny, short, tall, slow, clumsy or any of the other 1000 ways our children hurt each other.” doesn’t help.
They’ve heard it. They have been called it.
Because the other children listen to their parents judge and condemn others and belittled themselves and their children. They repeat mean things that they hear.
Your child’s embarrassment, shame and hurt are REAL.

But ninety nine percent of the time they woke up like we ALL do. Feeling MUCH better and ready to take on the new day.

HINT: Don’t necessarily ask them in the morning if they are still obsessing over the thing they talked about last night! Good chance it’s forgotten!! And though they hate to hear it, a lot of it is hormones.

There was a morning my child was acting ill and I knew he wasn’t. I probed and probed and discovered he was scared and nervous because he had to play his String Bass in front of the class and wasn’t prepared.

Can anybody relate to THAT feeling?

Guess what I did. I said,

“You have permission to go to the nurse with your stomach ache at Orchestra period. There is no need to miss the whole day because of the fear of one class.”

When the nurse called, I let her know,

“I’ve let him go to you because he is afraid. No, I’m not picking him up, send him to class in an hour.”

Of course my son couldn’t believe I’d told her the truth. But that’s a future post.

We need to emotionally feed our children…
They want your arms and UNDERSTANDING  not chips!

Now on the self-discipline building and practical side of not feeding your children in excess of their nutritional needs.

You may ask your kid to clean their room until the cows come home and they will willfully and happily sit on that pile of clothes texting their friends until you’re blue in the face.

Grandpa Dr. always said,
“Your child’s room should not be included on the tour you give your friends. It’s their room. Close the door”

BUT, don’t make lunch for them?
You’ll hear about it.

That’s when self-discipline comes in!
You let them make it themselves or at least ask for it.

My two-year old knew how to make peanut butter crackers.
I use to say he’d be the child that would be sitting on my undiscovered dead body with the crackers and peanut butter jar. And he’d be using a fork because that’s the best way to put peanut butter on a cracker.

I don’t put a lid on my peanut butter, at least not a tight one.
You have to have things available for your children to get to. Which is why you are still in charge of what they eat.

If you have carrots and celery sticks in the veggie drawer, that’s what they will eat when they get HUNGRY enough.

You can’t be afraid to let them get hungry! That’s KEY. They should only be eating because they ARE hungry!

Grandpa Dr.  used to tell mothers all the time,

“Your kids will balance their nutrition on their own. Maybe they do only want to eat potatoes for a few days, it’s ok.”

You ever binge for a while on something?

Kids are not machines. They may not want to eat when you feel like feeding them.
If feeding becomes a cooperative act between the two of you, life is much easier and you get to be lazy.

I don’t make food my children won’t eat. I don’t like waste. But it’s me wasting it not them, if I’ve cooked something they have said “no thank you” to.

I know all the parents out there that had to eat what was on their plate and every last bit of it.

It’s the 21st century people! Is it really so hard to make dinner a little more accommodating?

If you are eating something that your child doesn’t like, is it really so hard to scramble an egg? Haven’t met a child yet who didn’t eat scrambled eggs.

Remember, we are here to show our children that we care about THEM. Their tastes, their needs, their dreams.

If you read,
then you know I was a VERY picky eater. I’m SO grateful my father just let me live on peanut butter and tuna sandwiches.

He didn’t yell at me or tell me I was ungrateful.  He just let me eat a sandwich while everyone else was eating whatever they ate.
He didn’t shame me. He didn’t send me from the table. He didn’t make me eat something I didn’t like so I’d start some horrid cycle of eating and purging.

He didn’t make food a fight.
The other thing parents do.

Or else what? You’ll hurt me after I have thrown it all up?

It’s SELF-discipline.

Grandpa Dr. used to say,
“The only ways pre-verbal children can rebel are to clamp their mouth shut and squeeze their bottom!
They want control of what goes in and when it comes out.”

And you WANT them to have control!

We may have to force them to do what we want them to do, but the things they need to do, they are pretty excited about mastering.

Hmmm. Mastering.
Isn’t that what discipline was for? To help us become like our master?

Did you ever feel kinder after someone shamed you?

The other thing everyone tells parents is,
“They’ll do what they see you do.”

I didn’t make my earlier children do many communal chores. (The pendulum has swung back a little for the last one.)
They would help me, but they didn’t really have anything they were responsible for.
I figured if I just went around quietly picking up and rinsing off dishes etc. They’d SEE me doing it and would do it eventually.

Eventually, my 4.6 GPA , 16th in her high school class daughter was washing her clothes before going to BYU. She had used 3 times the soap required for her small load.
We all know what that does.
But not her.
Guess I really hadn’t taught her do the wash before she left.
But trust me she was working. You don’t get a 4.6 slacking off.

And she knew she was supposed to have clean clothes when she left. And since that load she has washed all her own clothes.
I’m smiling.

The last story I’ll tell is how I got my 13-year old boy to get up for school with little complaint or little help.

Started in Kindergarten.
It helped because he slept with me then (future post), but I would get up and get a bowl of cereal and bring it back to bed. I’d wake him up quietly and then remind him there was milk on his cereal and if he didn’t want it soggy he needed to wake up and eat it.

He’d roll over, sit up and take the bowl. I’d crawl back into bed. We’d watch EXACTLY 20 minutes of any TV show he wanted. After that he had to hop up and go potty. You know if you start eating something in the morning your bowels start working too. This is where you get to teach your own routine.

Some of my kids would regularly go after school. When I had 6 of us living in a  house with one bathroom, we couldn’t all relax for 20 minutes in the morning.
But a couple can, and a couple in the afternoon and mom goes when she hears the bus door close.

It’s a family problem.
Maybe little Suzy gets first dibs because she hasn’t learned self-control. Seniority is NOT always the way to go. But oldest does get shot-gun seat.

Back to our disciplined morning.

He had 20 minutes to go potty. (Always have reading material there!)
As he became older he wanted to shower every morning.
That’s a good thing.
I always made my children bathe at night, so the sheets staid cleaner longer.
But they could have a quick wake up shower in the morning.

But he split up his potty time. He decided how long he stayed in the shower now or sit on the pot.

I’d be shouting the time as we’d go.
“Son, it’s 6:40am. Get out of the shower!”

Then he had 10 minutes to get dressed and 10 minutes to brush his teeth and grab his school work.

And he was out the door.

There were mornings he cried after we did all that and I would calmly drive him to school and answer all his excuses with,

“We’ll see after school. Bye honey.”

He would dry his eyes and get out. There was no way THIS lazy mom would EVER take a clean, fed, dressed child back home.

And now he is 13.

We watch Survivor together, 20 minutes at a time.
(DVR greatest invention EVER!! I NEVER watch commercials. ALL my watching is by CHOICE not chance.)

The other morning he showed up at my door when MY alarm went off.
All dressed and ready to walk to school.

Another alarm went off!

“NO Tanner, I’ll still take you. I don’t trust your self-discipline enough that you’ll get yourself there on time. But come sit on my bed and we can watch ALL of Survivor.”
Smiley face.

I’ll stop. Not because I don’t have more to say, but because I’m trying to be disciplined in my writing. I’m trying to write a book one blog at a time. Starting with those things I think most important. Forgive all the self referencing links, but I’m trying not to get boring or repeat myself. It’s hard writing a book people are reading backwards.

Your children are YOUR disciples. Remember how kind, patient and forgiving He was to his.

Matt 9:13
But go you and learn what that means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice…

He doesn’t want you to beat up your kids to do ANYTHING.
He doesn’t want you to beat yourself up. No flogging, no sackcloth.
BE merciful.
I’ll talk about punishment in the next post.

Be me kind,
KT 🙂

2 thoughts on “Discipline.

  1. Theresa

    Yes! Absolutely! That’s the DIFFERENCE between discipline and punishment. Punishment has as its goal to make the kid “pay” for his/her misbehavior. Discipline has as its goal TEACHING the kid how to be/do better! And providing discipline should eventually lead to self-control/self-discipline! Also, punishment is an external motivator: kid does right out of fear (same goes for reward, but that’s a different discussion), whereas discipline helps them to learn internal motivators: I feel good when I do the right thing, and I feel good when I am kind!

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