“My daughter is so out-of-control…she’s been like this right out of the womb! What do I do?!”
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
You have a wild one, a wild child you feel is out of control.
You’re at your wits about what to do. You don’t want her to become a wild out-of-control teenager, but discipline is not working, in fact, she laughs in the face of discipline. Oh friends, how I understand! I have a nearly 3 -year-old little spit-fire, beautiful, crazy girl, who I love desperately, but who drives me mad sometimes. Mad. As in crazy coo-coo. Just send me to the place with the white walls ’cause mama has lost it.
I mean, what do you do with a child like that? Well, I’ll tell you what I’m learning.
You love them like mad.
More specifically, try these things (many of which were inspired by Sally Clarkson):
Tell your little one that they are a delight.
Sometimes with this one, the words have to come first. I was not delighting my darling Caroline, but I said the words to her, “you, Caroline, are a delight!” and in my head I would pray, “Oh Father, please make these words true.” And He did.
If spanking isn’t working, or things keep getting worse, please don’t keep spanking them. Spanking wasn’t working for my sweet one, and my friend and mentor said to me, “I really think Caroline would obey you if she could.” I took those words to heart…somehow my little one was not getting the message through physical discipline. So I stopped, and I started doing a few other things instead…
More time, kisses, and cuddles
I began spending more time, making more time, for my Care (Caroline). I started cuddling with her more, kissing her more, spending more time at bedtime, praying over her, singing to her and constantly giving her words of affirmation, “I love you Caroline, you are beautiful and smart and you are a delight! God loves you. I’m so glad you are my girl.”
When Care hits, I take her hands in mine and I rub them on my face and I say, “hands are for love, not hurting.” She knows this so well by now that I can ask her what hands are for and she says, “for loooooooove.” When she yells or is unkind, I bend down to her and say, “let’s use our words kindly; let’s be gentle.” I’m not saying not to discipline your babes, for Care a time-out or a small spoon of vinegar works well, but I am saying to be intentionally compassionate and gentle.
Remember who you are: a sinner and a saint
You, my friend, are not perfectly obedient. You and I, we mess up, we try, we fight, we are stubborn, we believe lies, and we sin. But we love God, and He loves us with a wild, unyielding grace. He is slow to anger and abounding in love, graciousness, compassion, and faithfulness. Remember who your children are, little ones with a sin nature, and yet made in the image of God. Train them up in love and discipline, with compassion, kindness, and grace, just as your Father does to you.
My friends, your wild one wants to please you, whether you believe it or not. But God tells us not to exasperate them, not to provoke by being to harsh with them. You can’t exasperate a child into pleasing you (you can make a robot, but don’t you want their heart?), they will just become more frustrated…or more discouraged. Go for their heart. It takes much, much more time to nurture the heart, but it’s real. And it’s how to love well.
My Caroline has changed.
Is she still spirited and a bit crazy? Oh yes. But she is much sweeter and more obedient than before. And you know what else?
I delight in her.
By Sarah Mae, SarahMae.com