Are You Punishing Your Child for Following Your Example?

anger punishing kids mirror cellsWe’ve all done it.

Our kids misbehave. Then, we get angry. We raise our voice a bit to get our kids’ attention. We furrow our brow and perhaps put our hands on our hips (which makes us look even more imposing). We forcefully intervene to deal out discipline.

Meanwhile, our kids watch all this and their brains go into action. You see, God gave our little kiddos (and us too) these little learning machines called “mirror cells”. These mirror cells literally reflect what they see by way of both action and emotion. After all, kids are built to learn from the grown-ups who care for them. When mom or dad gets intense, the mirror cells stand at attention, ready to reflect what they see, and learn how to act.

Connected Families on the God-Centered Mom Podcast

Connected Families - God Centered Mom Podcast

Recently we (Jim and Lynne) headed over to chat with Heather at the God Centered Mom Podcast.

Heather is the mom of four boys, and we had a wonderful and lively conversation about everything parenting — from our four core messages of safety, love, capability, and responsibility to how to break the cycle of shame and parent from God’s grace and truth.

You can listen to our conversation in two parts on her blog:

Have a listen and then let us know — what ideas resonate with you the most? Share in the comments!

Do you know any other bloggers or podcasters we should connect with? Send us a note and let us know!

Does Giving Time Outs Actually Help Your Child?

time outs actually help child

r. nial bradshaw | Flickr

I distinctly remember 11 years ago sitting in a pre-adoption class through our agency and silently scoffing when the presenter suggested during discipline situations to take a “time-in” with your child rather than send them to their room for a “time-out.” What kind of wimpy parenting was this? And so I tuned out the rest of that part of the class, thinking that I knew better than adoption specialists who had researched parent-child attachment for decades.

I thought I knew best, so off we went on our merry way… ready to parent based on formulas from best-selling Christian authors, and our own history of how we were parented.

Since I started out referencing adoption, you might be ready to stop reading if you have bio kids. But at Connected Families, we’ve found that adoption-related attachment struggles are often “the canary in the coal mine” of parenting. Kids with attachment struggles are oftentimes more vocal about their angst, which brings to light what many children could be feeling but don’t have the permission to verbalize.

With that said, I have a confession.

[Full disclosure: this next sentence is really hard for me to admit, but I know that there are others out there dancing the same dance with their “difficult” child. I’m writing this for you.]

I loved giving time-outs.

3 Signs of Unhelpful Consequences… and How to Fix Them!

consequences unhelpful

Noedelhap | iStockphoto.com

 

“You’re stupid!” says the frustrated child.

The parent feels annoyed, even a bit angry and responds, “You can’t talk to me that way! You’re grounded for the rest of the day! You go to your room and think about what you said!”

Parents often deal with situations like this hoping to teach their children a lesson — but sometimes this typical sort of guidance can lead in the wrong direction. This sort of consequence may lead to more anger and disrespect down the line.

Here are three characteristics of unhelpful consequences that parents often give to their misbehaving or struggling kids.

10 Best on the Connected Families Blog 2014

We can hardly believe it’s 2015 already! Before we dive into a year of new blog posts, we thought we’d dwell for just a moment on some of your favorites from 2014. Here are the ten most-clicked parenting tips of 2014.

P.S. If you know a friend or relative who might benefit from some Connected Families insights, this would be a GREAT post to share with them!

This kid changed overnight! Here’s how.

father son talk

Sometimes it takes a while for parents to change in ways that lead to deeper respect from their kids. Sometimes it can happen fast. When Dan attended our weekend workshop he saw an immediate change by practicing what we call a “do-over.” Here’s his report:

An hour before we left for your seminar I was getting ready to go. Our 12-year-old son Will was sitting on the steps. He asked why we needed to go to the seminar. I explained that his mom and I were going so we could learn to control some of the chaos in our household. His reply was, “If you think that’s going to work, you’re retarded!”

When Kids Stay Irresponsible

irresponsible child

Brian and Jana were very concerned about how much work it was to get their 8-year-old son, Brady, to do much of anything – look up from his book when they talked, get ready for school in the morning, get dressed for baseball, take a shower… Just to get the kid to tie his shoes was an aggravating power struggle.

Brian observed, “I need to out-think him to get him to do something. And it has to be creative, or it doesn’t work.”

To help Brian understand and feel the impact of the “outfoxing game” on his son, I asked Brian how it would feel if his boss needed to outmaneuver him or threaten to dock his pay to “get him to perform” at work. Brian answered, “Pretty unmotivating.”

That’s the Parent I’ve Always Wanted to Be!

Scene: I pace the entry at our house, arms crossed, brow furrowed, occasionally glancing at the clock on the wall. After what seems like an eternity, my daughter walks in the house. I aggressively say, “Where were you?” (Not that it matters.) “You’re late, and now we’re all going to be late, too. Wash up for dinner and let’s get going.” My tone tells her she’s an annoyance and someone who deserves my harshness and belittling words. Then I put the cherry on top: “You’re grounded from going to your friend’s house for the next two days!”

With a flurry of stomps, my daughter marches toward her room. There’s a two-second pause, followed by the ever-maddening door slam. That door slam is enough to send me over the edge! I sit and stew. And she sits and stews. Our relationship is damaged and both of us are now upset — not because of the initial issue, but because of how we’ve treated each other. We are stuck. I am stuck. And I don’t know what to do.

It seemed like this was the consistent cycle in our house. Every time my daughter was late, things just went poorly.

As I glanced at my watch and noticed that she was late AGAIN, I felt mad — but also resigned. Were we really going to ride this merry-go-round again? All five people in our family needed to get out of the house, ON TIME! And now it wasn’t going to happen, AGAIN.

Somewhere, deep inside, I began to long for this interaction with my daughter to go better than I knew it would if I did what I always did. But how?

What Does Your Discipline Teach Your Kids?

mother daughter talk discipline PRTAt parenting workshops we often ask the question, “What is the goal of your discipline?” The basic answer we most commonly hear is best summarized like this: “To make bad behavior stop and to teach immediate obedience.”

In Hebrews 12:10-11 the Bible gives us a different vision for discipline. We’re told “God disciplines us…in order that we may share in his holiness” and so that “later on (there will be) a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Do you catch this? God’s discipline is not intended to have immediate results, and those results are not about right behavior but about God’s righteousness and peace. Imagine how things might be different with your children if every time you disciplined them, your goal was for them to experience God’s holiness, with an eye for God’s righteousness and peace.