Parenting Q & A with Andy (Part 1)

"Parenting Q & A with Andy (part 1)" 2012/09/21 - published
Recently I had the privilege of speaking for New Vision Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, TN. I encourage you to check out the ministry of New Vision Baptist. They have a phenomenal team, and their ministry is touching thousands of lives. If you live in the area, it's one of the great churches near you!

My objective was to come in and teach on parenting. I shared the 7000Days vision and gave parents some practical teaching for the journey from crib to college. If you are interested in learning more about the 7000days concept, please visit, or listen to a sermon series I taught by the same name here.

As part of my time at New Vision, I took questions from parents in an open Q & A time. We took on so many great questions but simply didn't have time to answer them all, so I'm doing it here. I've organized the questions by similarity, and will release a handful of posts to cover these questions. 

Questions related to having young children:

What is the best way to introduce discipline with a toddler? 

There is probably no greater question! Always remember that our job as parents is TRAINING. We are not the police of our kids; we are the trainers. So, it is our job to identify the growth areas of our kids and establish appropriate means to direct and redirect behavior. We want to choose methods that truly help our kids learn right from wrong and good from bad. We must choose methods that we can use consistently. I am NOT against spanking. A physical form of discipline is extremely effective. But there are rules: there must be gain in the pain, and you must not use spanking simply to offload your frustration. If you have ever had anger issues in the past, you should really just avoid spanking; there are other effective means of discipline. 

Toddlers especially are in a phase where they are learning by testing every possible limit. Their selfishness is in full force. Remember that toddlers operate with an out-of-sight, out-of-mind perspective. If your child is behaving badly at the store and you announce that he/she is in for it when you get home, you've missed your training window. They will not associate the discipline with the action. You must be able to discipline in the moment. Remember, kids learn through testing limits and discovering reality. If they jump off the couch and hit their head on the floor, you don't have to spank them, the floor did it for you! In a similar way, we must present appropriate reality discipline in the moments of bad behavior. Our goal is to consistently help our child know that his/her behavior is not going to work. Your child is currently choosing the behavior that works for him/her. You must come alongside them, and make it clear that bad behavior will not benefit them. Sometimes that's a spanking, sometimes it's removing a toy, sometimes it's a time out. Good discipline is always consistent, patient and firm.

When your kids throw a fit (temper tantrum), what's the best method of discipline? Or if they hit and kick? 

Temper tantrums are ALWAYS about the audience. Remove the audience, and stop the tantrum. Literally leave the room with little Sally screaming and kicking on the floor. When she finally discovers you are gone, she will come after you to give it another try. Remember, temper tantrums are simply an outburst of frustration because she didn't get her way (it happens with adults all the time too, we just don't lay in the floor).  You may have to take her to her room to "cry it out." The worst thing you can do is give in! When you do, you empower this behavior. Try not to overreact to hitting/kicking. This is just part of the drama. The real issue is, Sally didn't get what she wanted and she's gonna let you know. Eventually, she will realize that you are not gonna hear the tantrum, and she will try another approach. Often kids flip it and suddenly become soft and loving. 

Now, if your child is hitting or kicking other children during play or seems to resort to more aggressive behavior when frustrated, it is important to remove your child from the situation and talk to them about what to do with their frustration. It may mean the child needs a time out to calm down. It may mean that the child needs to practice the rules of play, sharing, listening to their friends, etc. When our children see us respond to hitting or aggressive behavior consistently, they will begin to learn a better way. Kids choose what works. We must help them see that hitting and such doesn't work and train them to start verbalizing their frustrations to appropriate people. It is NEVER too early to start training our kids to verbalize their emotions. Just be sure to handle emotions with great care. Otherwise our kids will learn it is unsafe or unproductive to share emotions and stop altogether.

How do you handle 2 year old temper tantrums? Especially in public? 

If you can, try to remove your presence (audience) without truly leaving your child alone in a public place. If a child is having a temper tantrum in public and discovers you are not there watching, they will likely stop, feel a sense of fear wondering where you are and likely drop the tantrum totally and start the search for Mom or Dad. At that point, you can state that this kind of behavior is not appropriate. The fear he/she felt is probably enough punishment in the moment. If you aren't in that situation, you may have to abandon your agenda and take your child to a private place until he/she calms down. Often this means you as the parent must put up with a disruption in your day in order to train your child. That's part of it. When your child sees that their tantrum only results in stopping all progress, they will begin to straighten up. One note here, don't over explain to your toddlers. Logical explanations do not get you anywhere with little ones. Giving your child the "reasons" why they can't have or do something is not the issue. They need to learn self-control. Self-control is learned by recognizing that certain behaviors simply will not be tolerated.

What is your opinion on spanking? 
See above. I'm not against it. But I'm not a blind proponent of it either. We need to use wisdom. Sometimes spanking is necessary; sometimes it's not. Every child responds differently to different methods of discipline. Too many people polarize spanking and either use it too much or not at all.

How to deal with a smart mouth (Age 7)?
Devise a consistent response. The next time you hear it, identify it so your child knows what you mean by the phrase "smart mouth." (Always try to explain your terms). Learning to govern speech is a vital lesson to learn. I would advise requiring an apology and for the child to re-state, in an honorable way, what he/she was trying to say. Use cues to coach them, "Johnny, that was inappropriate. Say you are sorry, and try saying that again. This time, say it with a smile!" Obviously, there are certain things that can't and shouldn't be re-stated. In those cases, you must respond more firmly. You may send the child to their room and then go discuss what was said. Apologies are always necessary when your child offends with his/her speech. This is a great place to include the vital step of defending your spouse in front of your children. Husbands, be quick to squash back talk, attitude and dishonorable speech toward your wife. Wives do the same for your husband. We simply cannot tolerate dishonorable speech in our homes. This may result in early bedtime, removal of a favorite toy or video game or even a spanking. Be quick and firm on the speech that is used in your home.

Well that's enough for today. Please add your comments and question here.

I hope this stuff makes sense!

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Posted by Andy Savage at 3:28 PM
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