Great question because we want to teach our children to be disciplined, self controlled and alert as the Bible says. But at the same time we truly don't want to snuff out the joy of living. This is also a question that parents need to apply to themselves. How do we as adults, keep the joy of living in the Lord and abide by his law. We tend to think that it is one or the other. I think when we live a disciplined life and live according to the word of God, we have freedom and we have an abundance of joy and peace.
I accomplished this by providing discipline and order in the home. This takes away the guessing game and children know what is required of them. Structure moves the responsibilities of daily living off the shoulders of the children and places them on me. They are free and they know exactly what they are to do and do not have to figure out what to do moment by moment. So from early, I taught them what to do and how to do it. When they woke up I taught them to first go to the bathroom, brush their teeth, get dressed and do devotions. I taught them HOW to do devotions. I taught them HOW to get dressed. I taught them HOW to brush their teeth and comb their hair. I taught them all the disciplines of daily living. That made for a peaceful calm and quiet environment. Within this structure, they were free to be themselves. They did not have to figure out what to do and how to do. That burden of responsibility was on me. The walls of structure gave them clarity of expectations so they could succeed and I provided monitoring and did not need to get frustrated with them for not doing what they were supposed to do.
The other key ingredient is the culture that you establish in your home. Is your home a place where too much is being done and there is not clear direction and instruction. This makes for chaos, frustration and irritability in both mom and children. Having a structured day and schedule makes for less frustration and irritability and that makes happier children and accomplished tasks, which also makes for a happier mommy.
Let's summarize thus far. Do not rely on constantly telling your children what they need to do but rather train them to do the same things in the same ways each day. This is discipline, order and structure. Then monitor them to generate consistency. As you are training your children please remember that a lot of repetition is required in order for something to be truly learned. Repetition brings mastery. It has often been said that “practice makes perfect”. A wise woman once told me, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” This recipe will breed freedom and joy and remove pressure and frustration.
The last necessary ingredient that I will share here is daily time to sit and just be with your children, talking and sharing. This cannot be multitasking time. You cannot consider this time met if you do it while you are cooking or driving them to school. It is a time for you to hear their heart. What you do during this time is not as important as you sitting and being together. This makes for a peaceful home. When my children were younger, starting the day off this way gave them a sense of security, belonging and focus.