OK, it's 1:00 a.m. and I can't sleep, so now is as good as time as any to tell you about how God has used this book to change my life.
First, the book is solid Biblical truth. The disciplining methods are based upon how God disciplines us.
When I first started trying it, I noticed the biggest change in Marcus (my eight year old). Marcus and I have had the most challenging time. He had been displaying a very disrespectful attitude towards any authority this past year. He was very angry and would let you know about it. Nothing seemed to be working. I have been praying specifically that God would give me the key to my children's heart (especially Marcus'). Within two days of consistently using the "Taking a Break and Questions" I had a different child! He is no longer angry, because I'm no longer angry. God has taken my anger away.
I'll start with an amazing analogy that the authors had...
You go into a showroom to buy a car. You are about ready to take it for a spin. You open the door and the door falls off! You are surprised and you get angry. "How dare they put this thing in car in the showroom! It should be a finished product!"
Now, if you were working on the assembly line and the door fell off, what would you do? Would you get angry and upset or would you simply go get the tools to fix it?
Too many parents (including me) are expecting a "showroom child" when in reality they are still on the "assembly line"! We are getting angry because kids are being kids. My goodness, I'm an adult and I still make stupid mistakes. How much more will our kids? And yes, it's frustrating when they do the same dumb things over and over and over. But we are training them and we have to remember that they are going to do those things. So stop losing our cool every time it happens.
The second major point that I have found to be the key to my child's heart is the "Break and Questions method".
Say your child just hit his brother. Instead of getting angry and yelling at the child or spanking the child, you tell the child to go take a "Break". A Break is different then a time out. The child can come out as soon as he is ready to return to you and go over the "Questions". I have one kid that stays in for 20 minutes cooling off, I have another that is in laying on his bed for less then a minute and he is ready. Each child is different. The key is this: Their attitudes need to be teachable and all disrespect and blaming others must not be present or they return to "Break". This keeps you calm as well.
When they return to you, this is what you ask:
1. What did you do wrong? This gives them the opportunity to confess and repent of their sin.
2. Why is that wrong? Sometimes they may not know and need help with it. This is your teaching time. I always bring up what the Bible says about the behavior they just displayed. For example; "Just because your brother took your toy doesn't give you the right to hit or scream at him. Two wrongs do not make it right."
3. What could you do differently next time? This makes them think! If they don't know, help give them the tools that they need to be successful with whatever problem is occurring.
4. Positive Conclusion: This is how God treats the human race throughout history. He chastens us, but when we repent, He always gives us hope! We need to be giving our kids hope that they can change. Most of the time I do this by saying, "Jessica, I know you can do better next time!" or "Your tone of voice has improved a lot in the last week, let's keep working on it, O.K.?" Many times there still needs to be consequences because of their behavior, but they accept them without getting so angry because I'm not angry. Instead I choose to be sad for them.
I think the reason why I would get so frustrated and angry with my kids is that I felt like I wasn't being listened to. I was modifying their behavior, but I didn't have their hearts and I felt like my words were falling on deaf ears. Which they were because who wants to listen to someone who is yelling at them all the time? Children will tune you out!
Now I am patiently and quietly waiting for that child to return to me and have our discussion. We are both calm and the discussion is productive and godly. I am not using my "anger" to control my children. I didn't realize how exhausted I've become because of this. At the end of my day, all my energy was being sapped by being "firm and angry". I had been praying about wanting to be a fun mom. A mom that had energy for her kids. I have more energy now (being nine months pregnant) then I did before because I'm not wasting it by being angry all the time. It was sapping me of my strength! My husband and sister have noticed a huge difference! God put this book in my hands at just the right time. Steve went for a class out of town and with his regular work schedule I ended up being by myself with the kids for five days. I would have been a screaming wreck by the end of it! I have not lost my cool once in five days! That is a miracle. Believe me, we have not had a shortage of conflict. I'm just not letting it get to me and draining me of all my energy and playfullness. I am getting to be the happy mom that I always dreamed of being. I have the energy to read books, play games and talk at the end of the day with the older ones. They are loving it!
I have even sat down with Marcus and asked him why he thinks our new method
is working. He said, "Because you aren't yelling at me all the time. I don't get as angry when you aren't yelling at me." He also told me he noticed a HUGE difference in me and was loving it. When my sister was up, she couldn't believe the change that she saw in him. She even took him aside and told him how much she delighted being around him and how much more respectful he was towards his mother. He just beamed!
Now Josh, my ten year old, has been a different story. He is having a harder time with it. It's actually making him more angry because he can't just get the consequence over with and return to what it is he wants to be doing. The "Break and Questions" are torture for him! It actually makes him stop and think about his behavior and how it needs to change. Not thrilling for a child that wants to get things over with so he can go on his merry way and play. It is going to take longer and I will have to make sure I am VERY consistent with him. I have had glimpses of hope. Just today, he came up to me after dinner and asked what he could do to help. He didn't stop right away either, he kept asking until I was out of the kitchen. It was wonderful. I think God is really working with him on his badgering me and helping him to have more of a servant's heart. Oh praise God!
I am using this with Jessica and Andrew (five and almost four). This has worked great! They are responding very well and Jessica's attitude is changing. I am not getting angry when they do foolish things. I am able to think more clearly and come up with consequences that are appropriate. The breaks are giving them time to think about their behavior. Andrew was so cute, I forgot I had sent him on break and he actually came to me and said, "Mom, you forgot to ask the questions!" How cute is that?
I know this is long, but I just had to share with you. If you struggle with angry and yelling, you have to buy this book. I think I highlighted two-thirds of it!