I spent years thinking that I was doing good to not let my kids get away with things, telling them when they were wrong, and keeping them in line. But when my kids often acted out anyway- didn’t listen the first time I said something, or even the 3rd, or asked for something over and over again, I assumed that my kids were just difficult kids.
Or, They’re active kids, I would reason, when I couldn’t figure out how to get them to sit down and not climb all over people after they had been asked to stop. The truth was, I wasn’t a push-over mom. I disciplined my kids, a lot!
The problem was, I disciplined by yelling, but not actually giving consequences. I was raising my voice, and lecturing and reasoning with my kids, but I wasn’t following through with ACTUAL consequences. Once I realized that, it made all the difference.
Turns out, raising disciplined, and smart, and eventually independent kids takes intentional work!
Here Are the Main Ways to Relate To Your Kids So They Actually Want to Listen…
Love Them First
After all, if discipline is not done in love, then you may win the war at hand, but you will lose the battle in the end. Threatening, yelling, emotional manipulation, physical outbursts, and especially physical violence should NEVER be used to discipline a child.
Our kids do not do things to purposely upset us, they do things because it looks fun or they are curious. Coming at them with an angry discipline tactic like the ones above will only hurt your child’s self esteem, and deteriorate your relationship with them.
Practical Tips To Implement:
- Take a couple deep breaths before approaching them
- Think about how much you actually love them
- Remember what it was like to be a child
Related article: The Art of Slowing Down
Related article: How to Instantly Have More Patience With Your Kids
See Your Child’s Heart Before You Address Their Actions
Thank the Lord that God does this for us instead of yelling or spanking at the first sign of disobedience! If he parented this way, I’d have been killed off in my teenage years- it’s true, ask my mom.
They key to seeing our children’s hearts is to remember that our little womb gremlins (AKA kids), are very emotional beings; all humans are.
We may see their actions that are destructive, loud, messy, or just annoying to us, and think that they are purposefully trying to be that way.
But, when we jump to this conclusion, we miss the fact that they are still young and immature, and they are most likely acting out because something is going on in their heart that they don’t know how to handle maturely like an adult would.
When bad behavior starts, bend down to their level, and calmly find out what they are thinking, or why they are upset. In doing this, you are asking to see their heart first, and not focusing on the bad behavior. The result is that the child will learn that you care more about them as a person, than about what they do. This is very important.
Speak Calmly To Them
Sometimes yelling is fruitful and necessary. At times we need to get our kids attention, and at times, a stern, loud voice is all it takes to let my kids know that whatever they are doing isn’t going to fly! However, if you find that you are yelling every time you are trying to discipline your kids, then you need to evaluate why.
As I learned with my own kids, yelling may get the child to stop what they are doing right now, but this form of discipline is rooted in anger and therefore is never going to work long term. Eventually, your kids will learn to tune you out, and when they grow older, they’ll probably listen to your yelling, but ignore your instructions overall. Think about if your boss just yelled at you to get things done- how would this go over with you? How long would you stick around?
When a child is doing something wrong, walk over and speak calmly to them (this can be really difficult for us yellers). Tell them that they need to stop the specific behavior. Once they realize that you are calm, they’ll calm down.
If you are dealing with a toddler, you may need a quick time-out in order to help them to calm down so that you can talk to them about their behavior.
Practical Tips To Implement:
- Be calm when disciplining
- Avoid yelling and anger
- Give the child a time-out or a calm down period if they need it before disciplining
I absolutely LOVE this book, Parenting With Love And Logic when it comes to discipling my kids. It is -legit- the best book I have read that taught me to take my emotions out of disciplining my kids. It is a game changer.
If you have teens, check out the updated Parenting TEENS With Love And Logic.
After you’ve taken your child’s heart into consideration, and calmly explained to your child that their behavior was not cool, and it needs to stop. Make it clear that if the behavior doesn’t stop, they will have a specific consequence.
The consequence should always match the offending behavior, and be age appropriate.
For instance, for a toddler who threw a car at his sister, calmly taking the car away for a couple of minutes will likely be enough to motivate him not to throw his car again. For a teenager who is mouthing off, taking away privileges to hang out with a friend would be appropriate.
But remember, a consequence is not anything that is harmful or cruel to the child. Likewise, yelling and anger are also not healthy consequences.
Practical Tips To Implement:
- Give clear and specific expectations for behavior and consequences
Stick to your consequences
Kids are really flipping smart, they will figure out quickly if you are serious about actually following through on their consequence or not. If you stick to your promised consequences for a week or two, then get lazy, they will likely band together and take you down where you stand! You’ll spin in the whirlwind that was created by them running to get away with something! Be. Consistent.
Discipline Out Of Love
Over all, tell your child that you love them and why you needed to discipline them. They may roll their eyes or turn away, but I guarantee you that over time, they will learn their behavior boundaries. More importantly, they’ll learn that it is OK not to be perfect, and that when they make mistakes, their value doesn’t diminish. They will learn this because even though we as parents may not love or support their behavior, we still will love and support our children.
Having kids is by far, the best and most difficult thing that happens to us in life. When we use the wrong methods of trying to control and discipline our kids, it be exhausting. As with most things in life, working smarter, not harder is the key to success. Raising kids is no different. Remember to love them first, and stick to a reasonable consequence- it’s worth it!
Related reading: 10 Things Happy Moms Do Before Their Kids Wake Up