One of my favorite books by Kris Vallotton says “Marriage is a heritage for your children.” This is a powerful word because the moment my daughter was born, I started feeling the responsibility invested in me. I realized that one day she was going to shadow our relationship, observe the gestures we make and repeat the words we say. My life mission now is to set an example for my kids.
Therefore, my wife and I took up a challenge for the next few weeks. We wake up at 6 in the morning, we read one book in two weeks and we work out every single day. It is not a part of any paid program or special initiative run by fitness junkies. No. This was our idea because we want to be focused and train our self-discipline.
Discipline has become a key to my life or better say a key to the season of the life that I am currently in. It helps me find balance, efficiency, persistence, diligence and integrity. I believe discipline should not be talked about only at work or in school where we think it naturally belongs. I try to have control over discipline, being able to direct it and use it all the time.
The easiest way to get around the discipline is to create a routine in your life that will keep you accountable for what you have set your sight on. This way you will learn to stand your ground even when things do not completely make sense.
We want to teach our kids persistence, diligence and patience. We are adults and we understand the concept of discipline. We know when to work hard and how to power through the hard times. Kids, however, need our love, guidance and understanding. How do you teach your kids discipline and a sense of responsibility from an early age? Setting an example is one way. Here are my other tips how to do that:
1. Toys in the room
When a piece of a Lego gets stuck in your heel, you know it is time to clean up the room. Do not do it for your kids. Teach them that the toys belong to them and they are responsible for them. If they need help with that, do so however, make sure they understand that before they go to bed or move on to play somewhere else, they should clean up the mess.
2. The mess on the floor
My daughter loves pouring out water from the objects of all shapes such as bottles, cups or plates. We have told her many times that she cannot do that indoors but you know there is always that moment, when kids try “one more time” to test your patience. My first reaction used to be rage but I found a learning moment in these situations. I ask my daughter to take a dry towel and clean it up. She is not yelled at or punished and she learns to understand the consequences. Use moments like this one to teach your kids discipline.
3. Do not scream for candy
My daughter, fortunately, does not like any chocolate or candies. I know it is odd but I am very thankful. However, there are other things she loves like strawberries or popsicles in summer. She comes asking for these early in the morning typically before any breakfast has taken place. A simple “not yet” makes her all screamy. In order to make your kids happy, you would think making the screaming stop is the answer but it is not so. All your teach them is that when they act angry and upset, they get their way. Remain persistent and patient and teach them that there is a certain order in things. You can see the value of discipline invested in them only later on. As a result they learn to manage their emotions.
4. Set up a routine
Routine helps kids get around the responsibilities they have during the day. My wife created drawings that we put on her door as a guidance so she can see what we do every morning, lunch and evening. Brushing teeth used to be very challenging but you know what? Not anymore! She dresses the first thing in the morning, we read a book before bedtime and she eats before we go out for a bike ride. Routine helped her understand that she cannot skip important moments of her day and we help her be focused. We hope this will slowly build the discipline for when she gets older.
5. All work and no play
We have always been very careful to make sure our daughter does not feel pressured into any performance. She is a quick learner but the moment we see she is tired of learning, we stop. She is only 3 years old and enough play time is very important for her. Setting high expectations can have the exact opposite effect that the one you expect. Be sensitive to how your children feel.
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