We have been going through a bit of a rough patch with our oldest lately.  We have never had much of a discipline problem with her.  We’re usually prompt in dealing with any disobedience, so nothing ever built up.  We kinda sailed through the ‘two’s’ wondering where the ‘terrible two’s’ were…we never experienced that with her.  The ‘three’s’ weren’t much trouble either.

Well, maybe she is a late bloomer, because it seems since she turned 4 she has decided to make up for lost time.  Boy oh boy, is she keeping us on our toes.

I’ve seen that Nanny 911 show a few times and have always thought, ‘how on earth did their families get so out of control?’  Yet, if you walked into our home at the right time, you would think we ought to be on that show.

My husband and I have been at a loss trying to figure out where we went wrong.  We are pretty consistent with handing out correction, aren’t we?  From the time this kid was 6-7 months old, we have been teaching her to listen to and obey us…what has changed?  Maybe we have lapsed.

I fully believe that everyone, including my children, is responsible for his/her own actions.  I also believe, as a parent, I am responsible for not inciting my children to sin.

The Bible puts it this way, ‘do not provoke your children to wrath.’ (Ephesians 6:4)

My daughter is responsible to us and to God for her disrespect and disobedience.  We are responsible to God to encourage her, train her up, and to NOT provoke her to do commit the aforementioned sins(among other responsibilities).

All the traditional methods of discipline are failing.  So while I rack my brain looking for ways to reach her, I have come to the conclusion that, as I conduct my analysis, I need to start with me.  I may not end with me, but I do need to start with me.

Am I provoking her, in my words or actions?  Are there triggers that cause her to jump from my cheerful, sweet girl to the monster we are seeing lately?  If there are triggers, are they caused by me?  Are they circumstantial?  Can I control them, and should I minimize them?  For example, I let her get too tired before sending her off for a nap, at which point she has a real hard time controlling herself.  Or are they things that I need to teach her to walk through?  Like, when her brother or sister takes a toy.

I am still trying to piece it all together, but I had a bit of an insight tonight.

I spent the evening out with her, against my wishes (sometimes my husband has wisdom that I just don’t want to see).  In the car, as we were leaving, I began to set my iPhone to play one of my podcasts. As I looked in the rear view mirror, and saw this face that 5 minutes ago was grumpy, and now was eager, I decided to turn it off, and engage in conversation.

We chatted the entire 20 minute car ride to the bookstore (my getaway location).  At the bookstore, I bought her a treat (bribes work, right?) and read her a few books.  I really just wanted to sit quietly and read MY magazines, and when we go to the bookstore, I usually do.  The kids ask me to read books, and I generally decline, telling them to read their own books quietly, while mama read hers (this could be a clue to what has gone wrong).

It took a lot of effort to turn my eyes and focus off of myself, and onto my child – but that’s what motherhood is all about, isn’t it?

She lit up with each story I read.  She spoke with a respectful tone of voice and used gracious, kind words.  This was the child I had been missing.

We had a few moments when the monster began to appear, and in those moments I realized that it was likely my tone of voice triggering it.  Both times, I was curt and harsh in my response to her, and immediately I saw her sweet spirit close up, and this angry child emerge.

In this isolated environment, without the added commotion of 2 other children and household responsibilities, I was able to deal with this change of attitude immediately and calmly.  And both times, within a few minutes of discourse, I was able to help her see what was happened with her attitude, and reorient her back.

I am no fool (at least not usually).  I have no delusion that this problem is gone for good.  But, I do have a greater awareness of the big picture.  I do have a refreshed spirit, ready to encounter the scenario again, with greater preparedness.  I do have hope that God is working in her AND in me through these trying times.

So, bring it on girl.  I’m ready for ya.