When my oldest son was two I remember an occasion when I lost my temper with him. He was sitting at my feet, as I stood, nostrils flaring, eyes widening, and my volume quickly escalating. I must confess I don’t even remember the exact infraction (if there even was one) he committed but I do remember my response. I was determined to spank this little boy so I bent over, grabbed him by the arm and lifted him up, enough so his feet were not touching the floor. I’ll never forget the look of abject terror in his eyes. I was so struck by it, that the hot air was let out of my anger balloon almost instantaneously.
It was after that occurrence that my wife and I came to the conclusion that I was impatient with our son’s childishness and needed to put into place a “time-out” for daddy. So we instituted a practice of sending our son to his bed to sit while daddy has having his get-control-of-yourself “timeout” to regain his calmness and objectivity.
Children have an uncanny natural ability to fail and fall in the same way, over and over again. Seems to be part of the human condition, eh? The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?
I often tell our staff and parents that a child’s disobedience is part of their “job description.” What I mean by that is WE, the adults in their lives, ought never be surprised by their childishness or misbehavior. Never. But the fact is we are all too often caught off guard by it and respond in anger to it. We need to think this through.
I suggest that our impatient, often angry, responses are motivated by our forgetfulness, unrealistic expectations, annoyance, and our irritation by being inconvenienced at the bad timing of their bad attitudes, whining, pouting, and misbehavior. They will change if we do.
Two important ingredients for success in disciplining your children are these: (1) patience and (2) consistency. Sadly, two of the areas we parents fail most at (shhhhhh…..don’t tell the kids!).
How patient do we want family, friends, and co-workers to be with us? Of course we want it extended to us. We want them to extend patience and forgiveness quickly and often (as we should toward others…especially our children). Fail to do this often enough and you become a candidate for the poison of bitterness. As all poisons, it mainly hurts the person who ingests it.
Consistency is the “mortar” that holds together the building blocks of our child training. Notice I wrote consistency, not perfection. Even in our failings toward our children we can be consistently demonstrating what it looks like to own your failures and faults. Coming to your child, consistently, and saying things like, “would you forgive me for losing my temper and speaking unkindly to you? I was wrong. God doesn’t want me talking to you that way” will build the grace of humility in them as you demonstrate it to them.
Written by: Perry Coghlan, Co-Founder/Co-Director of SHAP.