I was warned from an experienced TCK mom about how hard life can seem for a little TCK. But in all the hard, stress & difficulty it may be, to NOT let up on your discipline. Don’t let him get away with hitting now if he wasn’t allowed to before…that kind of consistency in discipline.
I was advised from another experienced TCK mom to consider re-directing than giving a harsh consequence during the initial transition period. If a child is acting out because of the stress or because they are tired, a swat would only escalate their feelings. Maybe re-directing them to play alone or read a book would a constructive way to change their attitudes.
These are both great pieces of advice; thank you ladies for your wisdom! Here are some of my conclusions after reading more books, the Book, and a year of experience of living overseas.
When I talk about discipline, it come from the root word to disciple, to train. That is what we, as parents, are doing—we are training our children. But there are times when giving a punishment is necessary and just. Our family has defined those actions worthy of punishments as: hitting, pushing, doing something he/she knows is wrong (from our training), and defiance (saying with words or actions “no” to authority). I actually made a chart for Bub; I’ll put up a pictures later.
On different issues of whining or acting out, we treat those on an individual basis. And when there are factors when our kids are tired, pushed beyond comfort zones, peopled-out, etc. those are times when re-directing is a better tool. In those types of situations, the child hasn’t done anything wrong. They’ve just hit an emotional limit. As part of training, we encourage our kids to get away (bed, book, bathtub sometimes) to relax and change their attitudes.
Children need consistency
All children thrive on consistency and knowing expectations, not just TCKs. When a child knows what is typically going to happen in a day, at home, and with punishments, they can prepare themselves to meet those expectations. This gives them comfort and security; and this gives you their love and trust.
When we are training our two year old not to hit, we have to be consistent in that teaching. He won’t learn hitting is wrong if sometimes its ok to hit and other times its not. He’ll be more confused than ever and not know if he can trust my word.
Living in a place where no two Tuesdays look alike, it is hard for our kids (and for mom!) to know how to meet the day. We have adapted and are learning to be flexible. But we also try to have some basic structured meals, naps, snack, playtime, and bed routine each day.
Children are resilient
It is hard on a mom’s emotions to know your kids are having a hard time. But their Creator made them resilient! (that’s a fun word!) Elastic…pliable…resistant…flexible are all synonyms of resilient. Children were made in such a way as to go through hard times and be just fine. I also think that because they don’t have another life to compare Africa to (like I do) they have transitioned quicker and easier than I. They handle stress lighter than I do. They spring back from sickness faster than I do. Children are made strong, courageous & meant for adventure.
And I still take care of my kids. 🙂 We are training them how to handle their emotions. What to do when a kid at school pulls his hair. They won’t come out of this un-wounded, but that’s life for ya. No one will. So we are training them.
Training them “in the way they should go.”
Our main purpose as parents is to train our children to…replace us. The proverb says, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” That is our family’s goal in training our children. Life is hard, but we are doing our best to train our TCKs how to respond when life does ‘pull your hair.’
We are training so they know they can control their bodies, attitudes and thoughts. We are training them to obey, respect & listen to authority and wisdom. We are training them to know there are consequences when wrong is done. These are all life skills our kids need to learn and they are learning them from day one.
I have some regrets from when we first came. The first major regret was lack of consistency. We were so tired from all the stresses of culture shock that we let Bub disobey and say “no” to us many times. I am sorry and give myself some grace, but it has been an upwards climb to reclaim the training ground we lost during that time. It has instilled in him a strong will: that if he pushes just a little more than he can get his way. He likes to walk the line on obedience, and that is scary to us. We are training him to respond before he comes close to the line. He is doing well, a year later, but its still a struggle.
The second regret would be with Honey-Bear’s sleeping. She started sleeping through the night at five weeks. But when we moved into our Homestay, she slept five inches from my head and I felt bad about letting her cry in the families home. So I would get her up rather than letting her readjust and fall back to sleep. Because I didn’t let her re-learn to sleep through the night, she didn’t sleep through the night till she was 10 months old. She also got accustomed to calling her servant (mom) by crying. I regret those sleepless nights and being slave to the cry. If I would have just stuck through one, maybe two, hard weeks, I would have had eight months of peaceful nights with more energy for the days
There are some thoughts on discipline, training, and regrets from my experience raising our TCKs. What are yours?