Discipling children is not easy.
I have three children who have boundless amounts of energy and provide me with endless days of excitement. None of my children could be classified as "quiet" or "shy". They have larger than life personalities, and there is NEVER a dull moment in our home. With all of the excitement and laughter comes a tough job, disciplining. Every parent knows that disciplining children is very hard work. There are always hard times, and children will always try you.
I wish there was some magic discipline trick that would make everything easy. Unfortunately, we have to learn by trial and error with each of our children. What works on one won't work on another, and each child has vastly different needs. No matter how many books we read or advice we get from family and friends, there are no guarantees. This has to be the hardest thing for me as a parent. My oldest child is very well behaved and eager to please. My second child is a train wreck! He never listens and requires three times the amount of time and effort as my other two combined. My youngest likes to whine, but is motivated by treats.
I do not like to discipline. In fact, I absolutely hate it. I would love to let my children run around like wild animals and never have to tell them no. This obviously isn't realistic or healthy. They need to have boundaries set and rules in place. Our situation is made even more unique by my husband's career. He is in the military, so has spent a lot of time away from us. When he comes and goes, it makes consistency impossible. After he returned from a 12 month deployment, it took almost another year before we found a balance. When he first returned, neither one of us was comfortable with him disciplining the kids. Their behavior reflected the lack of confidence I showed in his parenting abilities.
One of the most difficult challenges with discipline is being on the same page as the other parent. With my husband's absences, I was used to raising our children my way. The hardest thing is to compromise to show a united front. It doesn't matter what technique or principle you use if you are not cohesive. But once you have a team effort going and have decided on rules, everything else seems to fall into place. It is very powerful to kids when the leadership in the home is united.
Still, I have a habit of losing my temper at my children. They absolutely drive me crazy sometimes. I have to remind myself they are just children. I do not want to break their spirit, but instill some manners and human decency into them. My husband sometimes forgets that they are children and not soldiers. So, we're not perfect.
When we had parent-teacher conferences last week and my middle child's teacher told us how well behaved he is. We thought, how could our naughty, crazy child be well behaved for a seven-hour school day? Is our discipline working because he is behaved at school or failing because he is naughty at home? I wish I had answers for these questions, but I simply don't. For now I will just keep doing the best I can and try to be as patient as possible. They won't be small forever, and I need to mold them into the best people possible with the time I do have.