When you see your child doing something hurtful, it’s second nature to want to jump in and correct the behavior immediately! But sometimes this can actually stop our kids from learning.
Kyle and Ella came to me concerned that their 6-year-old daughter, Maya, was “always negative about everything.”
“What can we do to change that?” they asked.
As we seek to discipline our children, there is a wide range of typical methods. At the extremes, some discipline harshly while others barely discipline at all. It’s finding that sweet “just right” spot that’s the real trick.
Most parents have endured one of those days when everything goes wrong.
At the end of such a day, it can be easy to fall into that familiar litany: “Life is so hard, these kids are doomed, I’m a failure as a parent.” The thing is, this pattern — though common — is actually the start of an unhelpful spiral. These types of statements are examples of a tendency known as “extreme thinking,” which forms black and white judgments about the moment (one part of the picture) – and uses those judgments to define the whole picture.
Check out this “unique” Christmas tree. Not exactly what you’d expect to see in the town square, right?
While this “creative” design might have your fingers itching to straighten those dangling garlands, the mom whose tree it is decided she liked it how it was. Why? It was decorated by her children, a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 6-year-old.
Her decision might seem a little strange at first — after all, decorating can be a team effort, and parents can be on the team to make the house look presentable, right?
But ponder this: What message are the parents communicating to their children by not re-decorating this lopsided tree to a more sophisticated style?
- What matters is not how things look, but the heart behind it.
- You and your creativity are more important than my style of decorating.
- I’m enjoying this stage of life with you, just the way you are.
Cultivating an attitude of loving our kids no matter what — even when their decorating is a little less than picture-perfect — in fact, ESPECIALLY then — is one of the best gifts you can give them this Christmas.
Did you know that Connected Families was started 13 years ago, reaching just a few hundred people in Chaska, MN? And now families all over the globe – from Australia, to Brazil, to China – are leaning into grace-filled biblical parenting. If you live outside the United States and receive our parenting tips, or have taken an online course, or have read our books, send us a quick note! We’d love to hear from you.
Donors – your financial partnership makes it possible for us to reach thousands of families a year, regardless of location! Help us reach more families around the world by donating $25, $50 or more. Every dollar will be matched – dollar for dollar – up to $50,000!
Pretty much every parent wants their children to succeed in life.
When talking about teaching kids to be successful, parents often want to jump right to tactical issues like chores, homework, respect, and obedience. These are important issues, and we’ve written about them elsewhere. But they are not the most important.
The most important — more important than chores or good grades or even obedience — is that children know who they are and where their value comes from. In other words, what really matter are the messages our kids hear that over time begin to form their identity.
When I look at my son’s messy room, it puts a knot in my stomach.”
Joe was insightful and honest as he described his emotions about his son’s room. “Just the sight of his dresser drawers hanging out with stuff all over and I’m thinking pessimistic thoughts: If he can’t even push his drawers shut, how is he going to be responsible to hold anything but a low end job? It even makes me feel like I’ve failed as a parent to help my son learn to be responsible.”
It is often said that consistency is an important key to effective parenting. We agree wholeheartedly.
However, we believe consistency is not so much about the method we choose, but the heart behind the method. If our heart is consistently operating from an abundance of God’s grace and truth in our lives, we can effectively use any variety of methods for dealing with our children’s misbehavior. But if our heart is filled with frustration, fear, or anger, no method for dealing with misbehavior is likely to be effective.
Ever wondered how your kids view you? Check out this mom’s simple plan to see herself through her kids’ eyes:
I was intrigued by a TED talk about the benefits of teachers videoing themselves teaching in their classrooms. They use the videos to assess what went well and what could be improved. I realized if someone could see a video of a typical challenge in our home it would tell the true story of our interactions and give helpful insight.