Is Your Discipline Too Tough, Too Soft, or Just Right?

Is Your Discipline Too Tough-

Kids are struggling these days. There is more confusion about life, more depression and  anxiety, and more behavioral disorders than ever. The pace of life keeps us scrambling and not as thoughtful as we would want to be.

We tend to parent from a confused place of anxiety rather than a place of intentional confidence.

Sometimes we become authoritarian and nag, push and take hard lines. We impulsively remove favorite privileges and possessions hoping to teach kids “their lesson.”

And sometimes we are too permissive. We fear our toughness will push kids away so we tip-toe around anything that might hurt or disappoint them. We bring forgotten homework or lunch money and do things they can do for themselves just to avoid conflict.

Standing Strong in the Authority My Kids Need

A Kind but Firm Approach to Parenting

Standing Strong in the Authority My Kids Need (1)

Knowing when to stand firm as a parent and when to extend mercy can be a difficult challenge, and can leave your kids feeling confused about your authority.

Have you heard yourself say these things?

…That is not ok, do you understand me? How many times do I have to tell you?

…If you finish your chores, I’ll get you a bowl of ice cream.

…Ok, I’ll let this go this time, but next time there will be a big consequence.

…My child never listens to me!  

If you often find yourself backing down or offering bribes when you feel you should stand firm, you’re not alone! Taking charge of this dynamic requires more than just a, “Be the parent – don’t give in so easily” mindset. If it was that simple, you wouldn’t still be questioning yourself.

Consider a couple strategies to help you develop the loving authority your kids need:

A “kind but firm” approach: empathize and give clear choices

Use a calm and respectful tone when you address your kids, and let them know you understand what it’s like to be them. Then offer two “you can…” choices with a clear boundary. This combination might look like this:

“I know you are tired after school and love to relax and play, I often feel that way after work. So you can choose to get your chore out of the way and then play, or you can play now and do your chore before dinner. But it must be done when you come to dinner.”

If they give more pushback, give more empathy, but don’t change the request. No deals.

[If you would like more details about consequences, check out the in-depth appendix of our book Discipline that Connects with Your Child’s Heart.]

If this sort of approach is new to your kids, they may fight it before they understand that you won’t change your mind. Stay calm and just let them know repeatedly that you understand but you won’t be hooked by their emotional drama, and your boundaries are firm. Once kids sense your confidence, they are far more likely to respect your authority.

When “kind and firm” doesn’t work, or your child doesn’t respond, it could be worth a look beneath the surface.

Introspection: What’s going on under the surface?

There is almost always more going on in habitual conflicts than meets the eye, and it could be your kids know that in spite of your firm approach, you are still not feeling confident and resolved about your own authority.

Parenting is rooted in a combination of personality, experiences, and beliefs about our kids and ourselves as parents. Turning a few stones of self-awareness has proven to be helpful to many parents stuck in negative patterns.

If any of these issues (or others you identify) cause you to feel timid when trying to discipline, this isn’t a “stand tall and go get ‘em” lecture! It’s an encouragement to access God’s grace and truth for you and your kids. Below you’ll see some hurtful beliefs with which you might identify, and some helpful truths that you could use to replace them.

[Part 1] Standing Strong in the Authority My Kids Need

A Kind but Firm Approach to Parenting

 

Standing Strong in the Authority My Kids Need (1)

Knowing when to stand firm as a parent and when to extend mercy can be a difficult challenge, and can leave your kids feeling confused about your authority.

Have you heard yourself say these things?
…That is not ok, do you understand me? How many times do I have to tell you?
…If you finish your chores, I’ll get you a bowl of ice cream.
…Ok, I’ll let this go this time, but next time there will be a big consequence.
…My child never listens to me!  

If you often find yourself backing down or offering bribes when you feel you should stand firm, you’re not alone! Taking charge of this dynamic requires more than just a, “Be the parent – don’t give in so easily” mindset. If it was that simple, you wouldn’t still be questioning yourself.

The Awesome Thing about Your Kid’s Misbehavior…

The Awesome Thing about Your Kid’s Misbehavior

The rough-looking teen’s tough veneer had softened. I detected tears in his eyes.

“No one has ever said anything like that to me.”

Just minutes before, I met this teen in a line at our local amusement park. After a brief conversation, I dug a little deeper and asked Jared what he was good at. “Are you kidding?” He seemed angry. “Look at me.” Violent tattoos, tattered dark clothes, a defiant countenance and multiple piercings on his ears, nose, eyebrows and lips were suggestive of a hard life.

The Powerful Role of Empathy in Discipline

The Powerful Role of Empathy in DisciplineCould it be that one of the main reasons Jesus is so appealing to us, a reason we want to follow him, is that we see throughout scripture that he “gets” people?

He knows us. He understands us. He meets us where we are. Hebrews 4:15 essentially tells us that we have a high priest (Jesus) who empathizes with our every weakness. Following in Jesus’ example, we represent his character to our kids when we empathize with them in their weaknesses.

6 Practical Tips to Tame Your Temper

6 Practical Tips to Tame Your TemperDisciplining misbehaving kids is often a difficult and emotion-laden task. Our oldest son Daniel, sometimes said to Lynne, “Mom, you just bursted all over us!” And he was painfully right. Jim had his share of quick, harsh reactions as well. Those were discouraging times for all of us, and we wished we knew how to get unstuck from that negative pattern.

We began applying our professional knowledge to develop practical strategies that helped us become calmer and more effective when disciplining. As we “field-tested” these ideas in our own family, we were equipped to help thousands of parents defuse their explosive reactions as well.

Parents who learn to calm themselves before disciplining usually find they are much more effective as they access their wisdom and good intentions for their kids. We suggest that parents stop, breathe, and get perspective. But what does that look like? Here are six practical ways to “get perspective” as you calm your heart for discipline that connects with your child’s heart.

Are You An Emotionally Safe Parent?

Are You an Emotionally Safe Parent-A friend of ours said, “I am so competent at work and with friends. I’m on my game almost all the time. But when my kids act up, it’s like I lose the ‘real me!’ I become someone I don’t know or like.” Virtually every parent we’ve talked with in any depth admits, “I don’t like the ‘me’ that comes out when I discipline my kids.”

The tough truth to swallow is that whatever comes out of us IS the “real me.” Kids provoke us. And when we’re provoked, we tend to reveal what’s really inside us – especially when the provocateurs are our very own little children. What’s revealed is often not a pretty picture as stressed parents feel desperate, and use intimidation, manipulation and anger to regain a sense of control in the situation. Although this may work temporarily, it does so at the expense of the parent-child relationship.

When anger, anxiety and a need to control drive our discipline, we unintentionally communicate to our children that we are not emotionally safe. They will self-protect by closing their hearts to us.

Changing Your Parenting When Change is Hard

Three research based tips when you feel stuck

Changing Your Parenting When Change is Hard (1)Happy New Year! Whether you’ve just found us or we’re old friends, we are excited to journey with you through 2017.

We still remember our early days of feeling stuck in our parenting challenges, unhealthy dynamics, and hurtful habits. So we’re passionate to help all parents who feel that same way! As you think about the year ahead, and plans or resolutions you’re making for a better future, we want to help you with three principles adapted from a research based book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, by brothers Chip and Dan Heath.

1. Launch from your successes!
Trying to “fix” your failures can cause discouragement that makes change difficult. Focusing on what goes well in your home is a great way to start positive change because you are building on a skill you already know. Looking back on the past year, ask yourself these questions:

Biblical Discipline

An Out of the Box Perspective (Connected Families Post from DesiringGod.org)

Biblical Discipline (1)

Disciplining our kids is usually the most frustrating, confusing part of parenting. The stakes are high, because what kids learn when they are disciplined will last a lifetime. In our work with parents, we have seen that well-intentioned efforts often miss kids’ hearts as parents struggle to figure out, “What is ‘biblical discipline,’ and how do I do it?”

As parents tackle this issue, we have found it extremely valuable to shift our focus from a few controversial proof texts to consider a broader view of biblical instruction on this matter. We’ve found it helpful to ask two questions in particular:

How did God the Father discipline key Old Testament saints that clearly had a “father-child” relationship with him?

What do we learn from Jesus’s response to struggling sinners?

Helping Your Highly Sensitive Child

Helping Your Highly Sensitive Child
There are challenging kids, and there are “over-the-top” challenging kids. Research suggests that around 15% of all children are considered highly sensitive. What does this mean for parents of kids who exhibit these characteristics? More importantly, what kinds of behaviors classify as highly sensitive? Knowing that your child may be more sensitive than most need not be overly burdensome, there are many strategies for helping highly sensitive children thrive. Are any of the following comments true about your child?  If so, read on to discover positive ways to help your child celebrate their uniqueness and succeed.

Does this sound like your child?

  • Dressing is always an ordeal for my daughter. No tags, and sometimes no socks, because the seams drive her crazy.”

  • My teen has never been a touchy kid. It used to be tough to get him to slow down for a hug, but now he even pulls away and acts like I’ve violated his space.”

  • My child is such a picky eater. I feel like I’m always special order cooking from the ‘brown and white’ food group.”

  • My son just can’t sit still – he’s always squirming and wiggling. It’s almost impossible to get him to slow down, look me in the eye and really listen.”

  • My daughter’s mood swings are extreme and sometimes very sudden. The littlest things can set her off. Talk about intense! Her meltdowns wear me out.”

  • My child is easily over-stimulated. Large groups of kids, crowded places or busy stores are usually a prescription for trouble.”

These comments are from parents who have one thing in common: highly sensitive children! These kids are easily overwhelmed by intense or aversive sensations from their body or their surroundings. They are almost always kids with highly sensitive nervous systems, and their challenging behavior is about much more than defiance or disobedience.