Recently we received this story from Joel and Amy Nelson, parents of two sons, who have previously shared their story here. Enjoy!
Parenting may not come with a manual, but I sure have read a lot of the parenting books out there! One common message that I encountered in my reading was, in all that you do, “be consistent”.
This logic was all well and good, except when I was not in a good place to address the situation calmly because of what was going on inside of me – exasperation, frustration, or just plain being tired and worn out from a day. If one of my sons challenged me during these times, it was “game on”.
It typically would start with me giving a consequence just because I was mad. “If you do that one more time, you will lose (insert favorite item here) for one day.” Then, if there was any whining, it was, “OK, that’s two days!” Then after the pouty huffing, “OK, one week, do you want more?” Then after the slammed door, “OK, A MONTH!!!” And then, there I was — stuck in the consequences I had given, having to “be consistent” and follow through.
We talk to parents about discipline a lot. We talk about our entire Framework and how it underpins true discipline — how parents need to be safe, connect with their kids, coach them to be capable and wise decision-makers, and then help them take responsibility.
But sometimes once parents have wrestled with all this, they still ask, “Okay, so what does that look like in the heat of the moment, when my child has just done that thing they often do and we’re both on the edge of losing it?”
Well, here are three totally concrete, practical examples of ways to live out safe, loving discipline with your kids, even when the heat is on!
We were excited to see our frequently-used concept of “the do over” appear on the blog of business and leadership guru Seth Godin, and we think his insights apply just as much to parents as to businesspeople. Here’s what he had to say:
“I call the window seat!”
“Nu-uhhh, it’s MY turn!”
“OW! Mom, she hit me!”
Sometimes it can seem like the simplest interactions are the ones that explode out of nowhere. Getting out the door to school, getting in the car to go somewhere, getting ready for bed — when it comes to transition time, you can just feel your blood pressure begin to rise.
“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.
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!”
As some of you know, Lynne and I provided a home for a single mom and her baby boy for his first three and a half years.
As you might imagine in that setting, we had numerous learning opportunities with this strong-willed little fella. On one such occasion I caught my two-year-old little buddy in my emerging garden. I was surprised and yelled at him to “get out!” (Yes, I still yell without thinking sometimes too!) Then I realized I had a Flipcam in my pocket and I taped a little experiment. You can watch it below — pay close attention to Eli’s change in attitude as I go from stern and demanding to gentle and inviting him with choices.
No matter how hard we try to keep calm, sometimes we blow it. When that happens, we can be open to ideas from the Holy Spirit, as was Brenda, a mom who receives our email tips. When we heard her story we invited her to write it to share. We hope you find her story as inspiring as we do!
It was another busy evening – kids home from school, parents home from work, dinner to make, homework to do – and tension was running high. Our three lively children aged 5, 9, and 12 were talking over each other and interrupting my husband and me. I strive to model the peace, patience, respect, and love that I want my children to experience and learn, but needless to say, this is easier at some times than others. Trying to keep our cool, we gently reminded them to speak one at a time and listen when someone else was speaking. This worked…for a bit.
Valentine’s Day and anniversaries are often viewed as a barometer for our romantic relationship. But it’s NOT roses and romance a couple days a year that define a relationship — it’s the deep commitment to fight for connection no matter what.
— ROUND 1 —
Jim’s and my 25th anniversary evening was an adventure to say the least. It started out with 40 m.p.h. winds, which made our much-awaited evening on Lake Minnetonka more than a bit dicey in our little boat. We headed for land and made a wonderful camp fire.
Once we were finally settled, we asked each other this question: “What would be important in our relationship moving into our next 25 years?” And that led to some serious disagreement, our first in a long time. Tensions rose.
How could this be happening on our 25th anniversary night?! Why NOW!?