As much as we love and value our children, there are days when their behavior can make us crazy. On days like that, it can be hard to discipline with grace, but it’s critical that we do so. Certainly this little post could be over simplifying, but there are some basics that can consistently help us as we parent.:
- Slow down: Disciplining for the tenth time in a day can find us reacting at our wits end and reacting quickly and angrily. It’s okay to have a child sit in her room for five minutes so that you can breathe deeply and speak with the Lord for just a moment. This isn’t an angry “go to your room!”; rather, it’s a quiet, controlled, “please go into your bedroom and I’ll meet you there in a few minutes”. For some of our kids with wounded hearts, sitting alone in their room is a real rejection, so you may need to come up with some other strategy (think “time in” vs “time out”…perhaps they sit next to you while you read a bit of scripture). The point is for you to take a moment to collect yourself, so that you are acting in self-control as a parent. We’ve all been there when we’ve “lost it”, and it’s not pretty!
- Ask questions: Sometimes we find that all of the misbehavior has been just to get our attention. Our kids miss us when they don’t get our attention. Perhaps they’re testing our commitment. Perhaps they’ve come from a background in which they’ve learned to manipulate as a manner of course. Asking questions can reveal this and other heart motivations that may change the consequences we choose for our children. Motives don’t excuse behavior, but they do help us to know our children better and to be more effective and gracious in discipline.
- Share the gospel: It helps our kids to know that we also disobey sometimes and that the Lord disciplines us as adults. The best thing we can give them is an understanding that God has made a way for us to live differently and in relationship with Him, and, when they feel like they don’t do anything right, they need to hear the truth that their behavior does not change God’s love for them.
- Kisses and Hugs: After discipline, no matter what that looks like for each child, it’s important that our children know that we love them even when we’re angry, and that how we feel in a moment doesn’t determine the depth or strength of our love and commitment.
You may want to consider pursuing some training in TBRI (trust based relational intervention) parenting. It is a great way to equip yourself with practical tools for raising these dear ones up in a way that is healing. The material is excellent. I know you’ll come away with more practical strategies for helping your kids grow.