"Don't Make Me Count to Three!" A Mom's Look At Heart-Oriented Discipline, is a well-written and thought-provoking guide intended to help mothers apply scripture in practical ways as we train our children. I refer to it as a "guide" rather than a "book" because it really is a hands-on manual, full of practical tips and real-life examples. In fact, we are cautioned that "pride comes before a fall" with the story of how, as the author was feeling a bit smug about her childrens' comparatively good behavior in the grocery line, her daughter screamed out, "Mama! You Pooted!" Can't get much more "real-life" than that, can you?
Mrs. Plowman encourages us to "reach the heart of our child" by teaching righteous behavior and right attitudes rather than simply demanding appropriate behavior from our children. "Many parents today have bought into society's definition of discipline. Because they relate the word to negative training, they would rather tolerate their children's behavior than correct it. Those who do attempt to establish standards tend to miss the hearts of their children. They simply try to control their children, focusing only on their outward behavior. They have adopted the philosophy that if they can get their children to act right, then they are raising them the right way." All behaviors are linked to a particular attitude of the heart. This book teaches, with specific examples, how to talk with our children about their behavior in order to help them understand, analyze and correct their actions and attitudes in direct response to God's Word. It is not about controlling our children.
Though I desire to discipline Biblically, I've been hesitant to use scriptural admonishments with my children for fear that God's Word might become a negative in their lives or that I might "beat them over the head" with religiosity. This book was written in such a clear, down-to-earth and KIND tone, that I truly feel empowered to use scripture in a positive way with my children. The author is careful to teach us to share with our children rather than preach to them. After presenting a specific training example she states, "notice how I used God's words without acting like I was standing behind a pulpit preaching to the congregation."
The book is divided into three sections: Reaching the Heart of Your Child, How to Give a Biblical Reproof, and The Biblical Use of the Rod. Each section includes four chapters and there are three Appendixes including, How To Become A Christian, How To Lead Your Child to Christ and How to Pray For Your Child. My favorite chapter is Drawing Out Issues of the Heart which teaches us how to talk with our children so that THEY can determine what was wrong in their behavior at a heart level, what they should have done differently, and how to correct the situation. Rather than the typical "Why did you do that?" we are taught to help them share their thoughts and feelings in order to determine what the motivating heart issue was, rather than simply focusing on the negative behavior.
One of the "negatives" of the book is stated by the author herself. "It's easy for us to tell our children that they have done wrong and chastise them for it, but it takes much more preparation, discipline, understanding, and self-control on our part to actually instruct them according to God's Word. This approach takes much brain activity that requires us to think through and verbalize that faithful instruction." Training with this method requires preparation! Being required to quickly find a verse or story to illustrate God's desires for our behavior can definitely be intimidating, especially if you're not extremely familiar with the Scriptures. For this reason, after reading this book, I have decided that we will make Proverbs part of our daily Bible reading in our homeschool. Note: The author does also have a chart called Wise Words for Moms to help with this problem.
I do wish this book had not been so specifically directed at mothers only. It is an excellent learning tool that I fully intend to pass it on to my husband and feel it would greatly benefit all parents. Reaching the hearts of our children is a goal for Mom's and Dad's alike.
In summary, I feel Mrs. Plowman has provided us with a wonderful resource. I've read several books on "heart obedience" and, though I've agreed in theory, I've been somewhat at a loss as to how to apply it. This book ably fills that gap.
-- Product Review by Dena Wood, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, February, 2006
And another review!
"Don't Make Me Count to Three!" A Mom's Look At Heart-Oriented Discipline
By Ginger Plowman
Printed by Shepherd Press
Submitted by Timberdoodle Company
A Mom's Look At Heart - Oriented Discipline, is the subtitle of this book. This is something we mothers all need; not the off the cuff, rote empty discipline that we use so often-the useless lazy kind that we are so quick to dole out. Am I being harsh? Yes, but how often do you really feel like you are getting "somewhere" with your disciplinary measures at your house? Idle threats, empty ultimatums; we make them all the time. And it doesn't do a whit of good. So maybe this author is on to something. Let's get to the heart of the matter.
What are your tools of choice when dealing with disobedient children? The "wait till Daddy?" threat? Do you scream and turn red in the face or even worse? We have all been there, done that. According to Mrs. Plowman, these are ways of avoiding discipline issues. We are uncertain how to handle the issues of obedience. But there is a way! Ginger shows us how to apply the scripture-yes, God's very word tells us how to link discipline with instruction. She has learned how to reach past the outward behavior and pull out what was in the hearts of her children, as she studied God's word and other books filled with biblical wisdom!
The high calling of Motherhood has some of the greatest challenges we will ever face. Although all the daily things we do to take care of our young ones has eternal value, our influence on our children has a tremendous impact, one that can be for good or for evil. If we are to be true to our hearts, but more-so, standing firm in God's word, we will understand that we will see the fruit of our parenting, one way or another. So with that in mind, and the promises of scripture, forge ahead with this book and know that the fruit you will see will be good and pleasant, and full of the Spirit. That will happen if that is what you pour into your children.
There is much "meat" in this book that will help you be certain to bear the fruit you desire in yourself and in your children as you nurture and discipline them in God's ways and words, and not your own devices. We often revert to the way we were disciplined, or not disciplined, when raising our own children. This book will help gently but firmly guide you in the Lord's way of training and discipline. After all, that word, "discipline" comes from "disciple." And we are all working to make disciples of our children for Christ's sake.
You will find guidelines for verbal correction that are just wonderful ways of checking your own attitude and behavior, along with Biblical guidelines for using "the rod." There is also a section on how to become a Christian, and the book ends with training on praying for your child.
Believe me, I have read so many child-rearing, character training and discipleship books over the years, but this one is a definite stand out. It's easy to digest, but not shallow. It's gentle, yet reproves and corrects. I highly recommend it and also think if you buy one for yourself, buy one for your neighbor who may not know that there is a better way to correct and train a child. This book will help get to the heart of the matter!