Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rules of the Sand Box

When my first child was about 15 months old I realized he was going to need some rules and discipline that weren't just the when I see it I'll know kind. He was a toddler, he was pushing limits and testing boundaries. I hadn't even begun to think about boundaries. That's not to say he didn't get redirected or told no when needed, but up until then it was just baby curiosity. He was now doing things with a purpose; to see what mom or dad will do. That is when it began.

As soon as I realized how unprepared I was and how little I knew about toddler discipline, I went to the library and made a B-line for the parenting section. I checked out every book on disciple that caught my attention, my first visit resulted in at least 5 books. I now rarely check out more then 2 books on the topic at a time but every so often I feel like I don't know what I'm doing and I go looking for tips and advice. One thing I have gotten from the books I like is that you need to have a set of house rules. 

After reading my latest book, Nanny to the Rescue!: Straight Talk and Super Tips for Parenting in the Early Years, I decided to finally come up with and write down our house rules. I put them up on our board where reminders and lists go so both my husband and I could consider what rules we needed and input our suggestions. The plan was to then put them onto something decorative and post them up in the living room. They sat on that board for weeks, maybe even months, I didn't know why but they just weren't right. 

One holy day of obligation I didn't make it to mass with the kids in the morning. Since my husband went to mass during work, I got to go to mass by myself in the evening. It was glorious! I was there early I got to pray, meditate, and be fully involved in the mass. While I was meditating it hit me, our house rules... THE TEN COMMANDMENTS!!! Of course! What better rules are there then the ones given to us by God? These are the rules that I want them to learn as they approach the age of First Reconciliation and Communion, that I want them to consider when they go to confession. So why don't I start teaching them what those rules are and how to live by those rules now?

I went home and typed up Our House Rules. Under the title listed I-X are the Ten Commandments, rules our kids are expected to live by. Under some of the commandments are little sub-rules to help make things a little more specific to what our particular weaknesses are. Right now these are our sub-rules:

I. I am the Lord Your God You Shall Not Have Any Gods Before Me
     - Love God more then anything else
IV. Honor Your Mother and Father
     -Listen to Mom and Dad
     -No back talk
V. You Shall Not Kill
     -No hitting, biting, or playing too rough
VII. You Shall Not Steal
     -No taking someone else's toys
VII. You Shall Not Bear False Witness Against You Neighbor
     - Always tell the truth

As the kids get older our sub-rules will change to address the challenges we are having, and eventually they won't be needed at all because the kids will be old enough to understand what each commandment entails without it being spelled out for them. Even as I think about it now, I am amazed at how the Holy Spirit inspired me to not only set rules, but to also use those rules as a way to teach my kids about God and what He expects from us. Now I just have to work on making those connection with my kids. "Don't push your sister! We don't push because it can hurt and God wants us to always be kind to people. See it's one of our house rules and one of God's commandments." Something like that anyways. Also, if you decide to try this in your home don't get discouraged when you feel like you are talking and your toddler isn't getting it because eventually they will make the connections. One day they will amaze you with their understanding, but first you have to give them something to understand.

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