Few things get parents’ attention as quickly as kids’ potty talk! Recently I worked with a family whose two boys, Will and Logan (ages 5 and 3), were frequently finding hilarious entertainment in each other’s potty humor.
But parents John and Patti weren’t laughing – they were exasperated with their boys’ potty talk. When I checked in with them before our first coaching session, their goal was for the kids to “listen, obey, and have a healthy fear of us,” and John defined effective discipline as “hot sauce or soap in their mouths.” They only wanted to use this rather severe punishment after numerous warnings, but things were escalating out of control. The kids were spreading their potty talk around the neighborhood – eliciting giggles from their friends, frowns from those kids’ parents, and embarrassment for John and Patti.
As we problem-solved this issue during our first session, we talked about two important truths that were under the surface of this crazy situation:
Recently Jim and Lynne sat down with the folks over at the Positive Parenting podcast to talk about how to discipline in a way that actually connects with kids.
The full podcast is 30 minutes — Listen or download below:
Download: Positive Parenting Ep39 Audio – Connected Families
In this episode…
- Why methods matter less than the messages you communicate
- How to help kids make wise decisions — even toddlers!
- Questions you can ask to de-fuse volatile situations
- How to find the good stuff even in kids’ misbehavior
- What to do when teens feel distant and disconnected
- Four powerful messages that all children long to hear
There’s a parenting pitfall that nearly all parents get stuck in at some point: “If my child behaves well, I am a good parent. If my child misbehaves, I am a bad parent.” Stated so bluntly, it’s obviously not true, but it is still a powerful and subtle belief for nearly all parents.
This belief can cause parents to change their perspective (and therefore their mood) quickly based on their children’s behavior. That inevitable wild outburst in a store becomes a great embarrassment because it’s about the parent’s failure. This drives the parent to overreact in order to get the child under control. The overreaction then leads the parent to make further conclusions about being a bad parent. Defining parenting by a child’s behavior puts tremendous pressure on the child to “get it right.” This usually has very negative results for the child and for the parent as they both ride an emotional roller coaster together, overreacting to the normal ups and downs of children’s behavior.
I had a good opportunity to test this in myself the day our youngest son Noah got caught lighting matches in the church.
We’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.
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!