Ethan was sitting in the backseat of the car listing his favorite songs that play on K-Love, the Christian radio station we play. Then, Hillsong United’s “So Will I” came on, and he quickly added, “ Oh, I like this one, too.” Bill and I looked at each other and grinned, thankful that he is listening to, learning to sing, and appreciating music that glorifies God.
It reminded me that he’s a good kid – he’s not perfect, no one is – but he’s got a good heart (and he loves the Lord, thank goodness).
Why is it so difficult, then, to be his mommy? Why do I lose my temper with him so often?
In “A #parentingfail – Part 1”, I explained how I struggle with my temper when dealing with difficult situations with my children. Then, in “A #parentingfail – Part 2”, I shared how God revealed that He wasn’t going to take away my temper problem.
Today, I want to explore what I have learned so far on my 9-year parenthood journey. The lessons have come from trial-and-error, tears, arguments, seeking advice from other moms, reading parenting articles, and just good ol’ experience.
I’m not professing to be an expert…the last few posts have shown quite the contrary. Despite this fact, I know I have learned some valuable lessons along the way, and I want to pass along some of these tidbits.
Granted, it is still difficult to act on what I know when I’m in the throws of dealing with disobedience or tantrums. That being said, here’s what parenthood has taught me so far:
- Stay Calm – I know, I know…start off with a difficult one, but if you can stay calm, you could keep the situation from escalating.
- Walk Away – It’s ok to admit you need a minute when you feel yourself losing it.
- Get on Their Level – Rather than towering over them and literally talking down to them, sit or kneel so you can look them in the eye.
- Give Choices – When possible, allow them to choose or at least couch their responsibilities as a choice. Ask, “Do you want to brush your teeth or make your bed first?” Sometimes I ask this during the “Get Ready for School” routine in the morning. Ultimately, they’ll have to do both but making it seem like they have choices sometimes helps things go more smoothly.
- Don’t Hover – My kids do better, whether on their own or playing with others, when I am not standing over them waiting to correct every mistake they make.
- Relax Your Need for Control – Looking back, I can see that many of the blowups I’ve had with my kids were because I insisted on having something done the way I wanted it, when I wanted it. Now, I try to ask myself if I must have it done my way or if I can give them the chance to do it their way.
- Shut-up – I’m pretty sure that God has said this to me a few times – almost audibly. I don’t have to have the last word. I may not even have to have a word at all. Sometimes I should just shut up.
- Be specific, simple & direct with instructions – This is especially helpful when the kids are younger. Don’t give a long list of complicated steps and details. Give one step at a time, wait for that to be done, and then give the next step.
- Be positive – Look for the things they are doing well, and give compliments. Also, try to have a more positive mindset about your children overall. Once you view them negatively (because of their behavior, for example) it is difficult to redirect yourself to have a positive outlook. If you find yourself thinking more negative then positive thoughts, think of 3 good things about your child. Write them down if you want. List more than 3 – as many as you can, in fact. This simple exercise will help refocus your mind on the wonderful things about your children. (And keeps Satan from stealing your joy…I’ll talk about that next week).
- Be present/Put down your phone – You could also say turn off the television, get away from the computer, or put down the tablet. We need to look at our children, talk to them, listen to them, play what they want to play, allow them to help when they want, and focus on them when they need our attention.
- Be consistent – (Insert eye roll here, especially if you read Part 1 and feel my pain). You may have to keep it up for five years before you see the fruits of your labor, but it is important to stick to your guns. Ethan is 9, and over the past 4 years or so, we have started to notice him doing things, unprompted, that we had been trying to teach him for years! HALLELUJAH!
For the sake of keeping my posts as brief as possible, I’ll stop there and finish sharing the list next week. I’ve saved the most important one for last, so you’ll have to come back 😉 Also, I’m going to reveal my first guest blogger who’ll write for you the last week in April. You don’t want to miss the announcement!!!
P.S. Here’s “So Will I” – one of Ethan’s favorite songs 🙂