Posted by: mamaamy | April 19, 2009

Question 1: training obedience

When C (age 3) corrects K (age 2) while I am already correcting him, I’ve been telling him that I have authority here and he needs to be quiet like you suggested.  He is quiet but then the next time I correct K, he’s chiming in again.  Is this something I should correct as disobedience at that point or is it just another occasion for a verbal reminder?

I think the important thing here would be to discern what’s in C’s heart. When we correct young ones often it takes awhile for them to change a habit or get the idea. If you can discern that C didn’t understand or didn’t get it the first time, a verbal reminder is ok, but I would perhaps say, “C, thank you for trying to help Mommy teach K what is right, but when Mommy is correcting K, you may not do this. C, do you understand? Mommy has authority to correct K, you do not. If you continue to correct him while I am correcting him it will be disobedient and I will have to discipline you. Do not correct K while I am doing it.” Then if he does it the next time, remind him of your word, “C, I told you not to correct K while I am doing it and you disobeyed my word, you didn’t use your self discipline to obey, and now I must discipline you.” And then as a matter of fact, discipline him for disobeying your word.

It is always important to be explicit with what your word is, and the consequences of disobedience to that word. Once you are clear that they understand your word, then you must be disciplined to discipline when they disobey. They always have a choice: to use their self-discipline (and/or self control) or you must discipline or control them. It becomes a simple (although not always easy) matter of fact. They know what to do and if they disobey, then they must face the consequences. I think giving them the option of using self control or self discipline is a key factor in training them. They will, over time realize that they can do it themselves and don’t need your intervention. It is training in them an invaluable concept: “I can control myself with self discipline.” (We are really seeing the value of this training with our teenage boys…they fully understand the concept of self control and they are a pleasure to have around.)

Also, at another time, perhaps, you may want to talk to C about what he does have authority to do. For example, I often tell my 6 year old “You don’t have authority to train or discipline Moriah (the 4 year old), but you do have authority to encourage her to do the right thing and be a good example for her. If Moriah won’t listen and continues to do something she shouldn’t, then you can let Mommy know that you tried to encourage her, but she isn’t listening.” Then I will take care of the situation…

Mama Amy

Read also: Basic Training

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