Recently I have noticed my little one has been testing limits. Mine, Dad’s, even their own. We do not like to spank unless it is an issue of personal safety. The child reached out to touch a fire, tried to pick up a knife from the dining room table (the knife set for someone else’s place at dinner.) only in instances in which we want to make a very substantial memory that this was a very bad thing to do. But when it comes to daily events like misbehaving, climbing furniture, throwing toys, etc. we tend to use timeout or discussing what the behavior was and why it was wrong. But with the recent increase in misbehavior we have all grown a little impatient, annoyed, and aggravated and I have noticed that we are doing more yelling than I want my child to hear, or have directed at them. It is beginning to feel more like we are seeking to punish instead of teach and discipline.
I catch myself yelling because I am angry. I use a sharp tone because I am impatient and cannot believe this behavior is still going on. My child knows better. I have taught them better. But they are still kids, they are young, they are learning, and learning means doing things over and over again. I know all this, yet it still find myself losing my patience far too often. So what can we as parents do when we are behaving more like our children, yelling in anger, snapping with impatience, and seeking to punish instead of teach? We need to talk a breath, relax, find a calmer place, and try once more to teach. But it may mean we need a few lessons ourselves.
Your toddler son is playing in the living room stacking cups one on top of the other. When suddenly you no longer hear the soft kathunk of the cups landing on top of one another and begin to hear the splashing sound of water being poured from one cup to the other, and then all over the hardwood floor. You begin to see red. Your anger rises, your jaw tightens and you just can’t hold back the yell of “no do not do that!” What do you do? Take a step back, breathe deep, and think of something calm. Yes there is now water all over your clean floor, the stacking cups will need cleaning and drying, but is it the end of the world? No. You look at your son and ask, ” is that how we play with our cups? Do we use water in them? Why not? Because they get the floor all wet and that is bad because someone could slip and fall from the water.”
1. Take a deep breath. Relax. You want your words to resonate with your child, you want to teach why this behavior is wrong. You don’t want to scare them or punish them for being bad. They aren’t bad, they are showing bad behavior. You don’t want to punish or scare the child, you want to teach the lesson of why this behavior is unacceptable, and show that if done again it will be dangerous.
2. Discipline from a place of anger does not teach your child what they did was wrong. It shows them that when things don’t go right you should be angry, and rude and act out. Which is not the behavior we want them to exhibit, so why do it ourselves. Take a deep breath and think about the situation. It was a mistake, people learn from mistakes, make this a teaching moment to show that although people can make a mistake, they can make it better by trying to fix the mistake or clean up after it. Get a towel and get your child to help clean the mess.
3. Allow your child the chance to explain what happened. Listen. Hear their reasoning, explain why this was the wrong thing to do, even if they think it was just for fun it could still cause a problem for someone else which is not fun.
4. Don’t seek to punish. Get your child to help clean up, explain why it is a bad idea to play with water in this way. Then when they are done and are once again back at play later in the day do not continue to be upset or punish them for what happened. What’s done is done, they do not deserve to be treated badly for the rest of the day. The mistake has happened, been rectified, and forgotten.bringing it up over and over to punish the child is only hurtful to the child and makes them resentful. We want to build our children up, not tear them down.
In the heat of the moment it can be difficult to stop how we are feeling and thinking and try to be understanding and good teachers but it is important for us to show this behavior so that when our children are placed in similar situations they can see how they are supposed to react. Do you have any other ideas or tips that help you in situations like this?