Hey, homeschoolers! Last time I shared 3 child discipline lies that make homeschooling harder. I'm back with 3 more lies this week. If you haven't listened to the previous episode, I recommend that you do. Subscribing to the podcast makes it easy to find the episode.
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Now for today's topic: 3 more child discipline lies that make homeschooling harder
Last time I covered “My child is an exception,” “I can't discipline because my spouse and I don't agree,” and “My child should always like school, life, and especially me.” Those are all lies that will lead you to neglect disciplining your child, which will in turn make homeschooling harder.
Lie #4 Requiring chores is mean
The fourth lie is related to this false notion that kids should like everything, covered in lie #3. I have been flabberghasted when parents have suggested that requiring kids to do chores is mean or actually abusive.
My father was forced to work on an abusive uncle's farm beginning at age 4. The idea that having kids unload the dishwasher, do their own laundry, or help with younger siblings is abuse is very upsetting to me. If you aren't going to work alongside your children in the running of your household, your chore expectations are probably too much. But this concern is voiced not by authoritian parents but by passive ones.
Chores train your children for adult responsibilities. They learn skills and a work ethic. But perhaps you're thinking that there are enough years for them to learn these things. You'd like kids to have time to be kids. However, there's another reason to give your children chores.
Chores build self-esteem. We all feel good when we've worked hard to accomplish something. When your children help run your home, they feel needed. I have told my children for years the truth: I couldn't do it all without them. Start a simple chore plan today. Ecclesiastes 2:24 says “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil.” Your child's happiness requires doing some work.
Lie #5 My children should behave without rewards
Once I begin sharing with parents how they can motivate their children with rewards, I'm soon presented with this lie: my children should behave without being rewarded. They should do their schoolwork and chores out of the goodness of their hearts. Never mind that their hearts aren't filled with good. They're human just as we are. The fact is we don't do anything for long that isn't rewarded because that's how we learn.
Many parents don't understand that they're not only failing to reward children for good behavior but they're punishing it. Here's what I mean. Your child writes the paper you've assigned. You look at it and point out all the errors or comment on how it doesn't look like much effort was put into it. Don't get me wrong. That may be true. I've told my students that I know they can do better and I get away with it because I usually reward them with praise.
We do the same with chores. Rather than acknowledging the work that's been done, we call attention to what wasn't done. Our kids won't be motivated to work, even if they “should.” And that only makes sense. We would quit a job that withheld a paycheck from us and we would certainly quit a volunteer position that only gives us grief. I know I have.
When you're only disciplining a child with criticism, yelling, or punishments, you have to break out of that cycle and start rewarding the smallest of good behaviors. It's not that your child “deserves” a reward. It's how children and even animals are trained. In Matthew 25, we read the parable of the talents in which the good steward is rewarded with praise and more responsibility. God knows that we all respond to rewards. If you'd like to learn more about motivating your child, you can find my class on the topic here. It's just $7!
Lie #6 It's too late
The final lie I want to discuss with you today breaks my heart. After I've explained principles of good discipline, parents of even very young children will tell me, “It's too late. The damage has already been done.” This is said to justify continued lack of discipline or harsh discipline–usually with reference to having an exceptional child. I won't delay in telling you that this just isn't true.
I know parents who have adult children who are on drugs, in jail, and out of many failed relationships. You cannot make the right choices for an adult child or even a minor child. But you can always choose to discipline. In fact, Eli in the Bible suffered for failing to discipline his adult sons.
Obviously, you can't turn your six-foot, teen soon over your knee to spank him, nor should you. But you can give consequences for lack of respect and poor choices–just as you would with any other adult. You can also reward a child for giving respect and making good choices, regardless of that child's age.
The truth is God doesn't hold you responsible for a child's choices. He holds you responsible for disciplining. The training God expects of us includes teaching our children to honor God. In Psalm 78:5-8, we read “For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.”
We can make God's Word known to our children of any age and we can begin today. It's never too late with God.
Give your kids chores, reward them with praise and privileges when they do what is right, and begin today because it's not too late.
Thanks again to my sponsor, The Homeschool Moms Science Podcast.
Join me next time to hear what to do when your child won't give a genuine apology. That episode was delayed, but I promise to have it for you this time.
Have a happy homeschool week!