• On discipline and self-control

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    BETTINA CARLOS

    BETTINA CARLOS

    Every time a brand new year ushers in, we are most compelled to change our ways or revert back to our good old healthier ways. But like the start of last year, you realize that as the months progress, we tend to digress from our so called “resolutions.”

    Truth is, 69-percent of all New Years resolution lists have to do with weight loss and diet. Is it carried over guilt from the holiday binge unless you were really not watching what you were eating all through the previous year.

    So today, I want talk about discipline and self-control.

    If there is one thing I ensured to instill in Gummy, it is discipline to do what she is asked to—even when I am not there watching her—and to practice self-control when she is tempted or being tempted into something (mostly involves eating sweets).

    I do acknowledge that it is hard for my daughter not to be tempted since she lives in a kitchen! Day in and day out, she is either awoken or comes home to a kitchen smelling of freshly baked bread, cookies and bars. Naturally she’d be so into sweets, right? But this environment is actually what I use to train her to practice self-control.

    I used to enforce the weekend-only sweets policy—meaning no chocolates, cakes, ice creams or donuts during weekdays. And on weekends she can only eat during the day. From 6 p.m. onwards, no can do.

    “But for what valid reasons?” you may ask. Well besides the values of discipline and self-control, definitely: 1. I don’t want her to get sick from all the possible complications of having too much sugar in her system; 2. To avoid sore throat; and 3. So she can still sleep early and well.

    My daughter learns best through experience, just like most of us adults. Her trainings came when I allowed her to exercise her right to choose—between indulging in what she wants (there was a time I allowed her to have sweets at night because we were out for a celebration) and suffering later on; or delaying her gratification and enjoying what she wants at the right time (which is the next day). Really, when kids experience firsthand the consequences you tell them—what may happen to them if they do this and not that; if they disobey; or are not careful—the lesson sticks to them better.

    Gummy had her cake and [finally]ate it too

    Gummy had her cake and [finally]ate it too

    In October last year, we were out for a buffet dinner for my Dad’s birthday. It was lunchtime and a weekend so she’s allowed to have her sweets. There was a candy buffet with a very generous spread of cotton candy, chocolate fountain, marshmallows, cupcakes, cookies, candies, gummy bears and what not.

    She ran to me with ball of purple cotton candy and looked at me excitedly as if asking if she can have. Of course, but not all. I made and left only one fourth of the entire thing.

    She asked, “Why Mom?! It’s a Sunday.”

    I said, “Well yes, but that doesn’t mean you can have all the sweets you want.”

    I further explained that by just tasting some, she can still have allowance to try the others—everything actually if she pleases. (I was already teaching her the “a-little-bit-of-everything” adult buffet approach.) I thought she understood what I meant only to come back to me 20 minutes later flashing the cotton candy paper stick empty with that pilya oooops-I-finished-it-Mom-its-so-good-I’m-sorry face. Oh you really should be sorry, darling.

    When we got home, I had to discipline her because what she did was outright disobedience and then I spoke to her lengthily about WHY I did not want her to finish the whole cloud of cotton candy. I told her it was not for me. It was for her. For her own good. I told her that for the entire week she won’t have any dessert (She’s allowed a cookie after lunch on weekdays, by the way. I understand the human need to cleanse the palate after a meal) and the following weekend, no ice cream or donut date.

    Despite brushing her teeth well, gargling and drinking loads of water, the next day she woke up with an ouchy throat. You see, I let the consequences of her choices speak “I told you so.”

    So when she cried out to me I just said, “That’s why I didn’t want you to finish that cotton candy, because I don’t want you to get hurt. I don’t want you to get sick, my love.” I knew she learned her lesson.

    On that same week, one of her classmates threw a birthday party in class. When I picked her up that day I saw her classmates coming out of the room licking blue frosting off a mocha cake. I felt nervous for my child.

    As soon as I got in, Teacher Hannah handed me her slice of the cake and whispered, “Mummy, Gummy said she’s not allowed to have sweets for one week.”

    My child was the only one who had her cake but didn’t eat it. I was in tears!!!! By this time her sore throat was already gone. But my sanction remains. BUT (a bigger but) because she proved to me that she had discipline, self-control and most importantly obedience and faithfulness, I allowed her to eat her cake when then. I rewarded her faithfulness.

    How heartwarming it is to see your child faithful in the little things.

    “He who is faithful in little will also be faithful in much.” – Luke 16:10

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