Friday, April 25, 2008

The Energy to Discipline....

I have three wonderful children, and am six months pregnant with my fourth. I truly love being a mother, and am SO very blessed to be able to stay home with them, but when the oldest is only five (which means they’re all still young enough that I have to take care of the majority of their needs for them), I have to admit that I am completely worn out at day’s end.

Maybe it’s the pregnancy that is contributing most to my utter state of exhaustion (I don't have the easiest of pregnancies, and never feel very well when pregnant)...

Maybe it’s that my husband currently has a schedule where he works nights (and often works 9-10 hours at a time, and 6 days a week). Even when he is home, he has to sleep (in fact, my boys find great amusement in telling their friends that their dad is nocturnal), and although it’s not from a lack of appreciation for what he’s doing, I very often feel like I’m completely on my own these days with all parenting and household tasks and issues….

Maybe it’s a combination of the two, along with countless other hassles and pressures that we all deal with on a daily basis. Whatever the reason, I find myself at times wondering – do I have the energy to discipline?

My youngest is two, and is very much a two-year-old in every aspect of the term. She can be the sweetest thing in the world – doling out hugs and kisses unexpectedly at any given moment – or she can be, well, let’s just say it’s something from the other end of the spectrum. She is currently quite enthralled with testing my boundaries, and seems to do so at least a million times a day.

I do my best to give her options ("Do you want to wear this outfit, or this one? Do you want pig tails or a headband for your hair today? Do you want the red cup or the blue one?") and let her help with things that would be exponentially faster without her “help” – all in the name of letting her feel as though she has some control over her life, and that not every little thing is simply dictated to her. That being said, however, there are some things that are just not up for discussion (Biting her brothers is never okay. Whether or not she can ride in the car without being buckled up in her car seat is not negotiable.) Blatantly disobeying (while looking straight at me and watching for my reaction the whole time) must bring about consequences – and I know consistency is the key – but this is where I struggle. Why must discipline require so much energy – energy that I just do not seem to have these days?

Putting her back in Time Out again (after she has been sent there and has come out at least two dozen different times) seems to be ineffective, to say the least…. but I’ll continue with my efforts nonetheless – all the while trying my best to keep a firm, but calm and loving tone. Some days I keep a pretty good grip on that resolve, and other days I’m not as successful. But I’m doing my best, and that’s all I can do. Thankfully my children are forgiving of those times when my patience has been worn just a little too thin…. how much I could learn from them… if only I had the energy!