Your 3 Year-Old Teenager
Unfortunately, by the time your children are three or four, tantrums turn into attitude. When they don’t like what your response is they can verbally let you know about it. Children need to respect authority. They are not little adults; they are little children, who have a lot to learn.
A fool’s talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them.Proverbs 14:3
We live in a world today where self-esteem and being in touch with “one’s self” are valued over being humble, understanding, self-less and patient. There is nothing wrong with children asking questions- respectfully. There is something wrong with children continually challenging authority.
God will humble children who do not learn humbleness. God will chastise children who do not learn respect. God does not give concern to our comfort, only our character. He knows what each and every heart is saying right now, and what it needs to continue to grow.
Unfortunately, for some strong willed children, the only remedy is a smack on the butt. Some children go through a terrible testing stage and it would be exhausting for both of you to do 20 time-outs in one day (especially when they do not work in this situation). However, once again, if there are anger management concerns, putting them in their room and shutting the door and ignoring them until they stop the behavior can also work.
Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it; Get wisdom, discipline and understanding.Proverbs 23:22-23
Children 5-12 (and a little bit older)
Now it gets a bit easier. We can get creative with our discipline because this age group understands more. Plus, time can lapse between behavior and punishment and our children can remember what they are being disciplined for. We can take away special treat after dinner, not allow them to see friends, take away a favorite activity such as television or video games, ban them to their room instead of letting them go outside to play, take allowance away for that day or send them to bed 15 minutes earlier every time there is an infraction.
Life becomes a little less frustrating because we have more artillery. Exhausting timeouts are a thing of the past. A little variety is essential when it comes to disciplining our older children. Why? Because one day something works really well and the next day they could care less about it.
Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.Proverbs 4:13
Eye Rolls, Anyone?
Power struggles are different in this age bracket. If your child has not learned in the younger years not to argue with mom or dad in spite of your best efforts, and he continues his tricks at this older age, it may be his Adam seed speaking loud and clear. The Bible says we are all born with sin after the fall of Adam and Eve. We all have different, specific flaws we struggle with into adulthood. Our children are not immune to this flawed state.
Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; He will bring delight to your soul.Proverbs 29:17
If negative behavior is arising out of a particular personality flaw that your child just can’t seem to shed, the stakes for discipline have to be higher. You must have something set up between you and your child. “If you argue with Mom or Dad, you will automatically get fifteen minutes deducted from your bedtime.” By the end of the day, your child might rack up a bedtime that is 45 minutes earlier than his set time. You can choose another punishment here, such as taking away television or video time, as long as it is something your child will really miss. This way, you are no longer catching them in the act, giving a warning and waiting for the next offense. This can be exhausting. In order to extinguish the behavior, attach an immediate consequence.
For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life.Proverbs 6:23
I Didn’t Do It!
Don’t you love that? No one did it. No one ever does it. I don’t make 90% of the mess I clean up every day but you never hear me say, “I didn’t do it.” This is a given. When you have two or more children playing away with a bunch of stuff on the floor for three hours straight and it is clean up time you will hear the words, “I didn’t do it.”
Well guess what? I got sick of the “try to figure out who got out what and who is responsible for picking what up” game. The new rule in my home: It better be picked up in fifteen minutes or I will confiscate whatever is on the floor and you will buy it back from me with video time. I don’t care who made the mess, we are a family. Sometimes we have to do things around the house that help out the whole group. The world is not always “fair”. Most of the time we will be expected to do more than our fair share. Therefore, clean up the mess and I will be back in fifteen. When you have three children, “investigating” can swallow half your day. Shut it down and move on.
Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; So drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.Proverbs 17:14
While we are on the subject of fighting siblings, let me create another scenario for you. One child is crying while chasing the other child around the kitchen table. The child being chased is screaming, “Help me!” Again, with three children in the house, CSI is not a game I have time to play in my very short day. Therefore, neither one gets too “plead his case”. (I don’t care to play Judge Judy either.) They both go to their rooms and sit on the bed for ten minutes. If it is an object they are fighting over it gets confiscated- no questions asked. If you can’t work out these issues between the two of you, Mom will take the thing away. My reasoning? You may not be the culprit this time around, but you probably were the last time around. It all works out in love and war and mom keeps her sanity. They should already know how to share and communicate their wants, “You keep it for a little while and then may I have a turn?”
A generous man will prosper; He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.Proverbs 12:25
Children can be manipulated- and it’s perfectly okay to do so. When two children want the same toy, you can say, “You keep it for five minutes and then you give it to your sister,” and if this doesn’t work, get creative. Get your kids to share without them realizing that they really don’t want to. I’ll explain. When you see the look of contemplation on your child’s face you can imagine them thinking “should I share this with my little brother or not- I really want to keep it?” That’s when you run over and hug her and thank her in an excited voice for sharing with her brother before she even let go of the object in hand. By showering positive attention on desired behavior, you get your child to “play along”.
You will see them smile proudly and then hand the thing over to their brother. Put the emotion in front of the motion and it causes the motion to occur. Who says a little parental manipulation is such a bad thing?
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.Proverbs 12:18
Whining. It can go right through you. This can also fall under the 2-4 age group. I think this high pitch, drawn out; obnoxious tone is in our pubescent genes. There is nothing we can do about this except ask our children to repeat themselves without the whine. There are no magic tricks with this one. This also takes a lot of patience on our side. We simply don’t respond to the language of whine and ask them to repeat. They eventually grow out of it.
He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.Proverbs 21:23