One of the best times to show love to your kids is when they are misbehaving. Anger, frustration and lecturing are standard reactions to a kid who does something wrong, but do they work to change behavior? I worked with many troubled kids before I co-founded Connected Families with Lynne and learned quite a few things about the messages kids receive (and don’t receive) when they are getting a consequence. Many kids who did something wrong, already defined themselves as “bad.” Undeserving of love. Yet, this is not how God responds to our sin, even when we are at our worst. (See Romans 3:23-24.)
We’re excited to introduce you to Sukay, the newest addition to our parent coaching team, and to share with you a story from her parenting journey. (Feel free to leave her a note of welcome in the comments!)
Whether or not they verbalize it, kids often struggle with feeling like they are “bad kids” or that they are “naughty” when they misbehave. It can be tough for parents, especially in moments of frustration as our kids are acting out, to communicate the message that they are loved no matter what even if their behavior may be less than desirable. The following story is an example from my own family life of a time when I discovered a great opportunity to communicate this message.
We all want to parent our kids well, and especially to feel confident as we discipline our children. But many parents, in their efforts to discipline their children, miss what we think is a key ingredient.
The secret? Connection.
From our years parenting our three intense kids and working with hundreds of parents, we know that one of the keys to effective discipline is connecting right in the middle of it all — making sure our kids know that they are safe, loved, and valued no matter what, even when they misbehave!
Check out these three videos where we dig into some of the ways that connection can make all the difference with our kids — even in the middle of discipline situations!
John was fed up. He told me that everything he’d tried had failed.
No matter what consequences or logic John put in place, his 6th grade son Ben just wouldn’t take responsibility for getting himself up and moving and out the door on time for school.
For I am convinced that
neither arguing nor defiance,
neither sibling conflict nor disrespect,
neither bad grades nor failure,
neither whining nor lying,
neither forgetfulness nor messes,
nor any other misbehavior
will be able to separate you from
my love or from God’s amazing Love.
as adapted by Connected Families
Dads often joke about what some young lad will have to do to get past dad to the daughter. But it’s no laughing matter. Most dads with daughters, having lived through adolescence themselves, are irrationally suspicious or even downright fearful of their daughters hooking up with assertive or aggressive testosterone-saturated adolescent boys.
While I shared this typical fatherly suspicion, I was highly motivated to teach my daughter skills for recognizing manipulation and standing up for herself, to prepare her to make wise relational choices on her own. So I decided early on to prepare Bethany to stand strong when confronted by aggressive efforts to get her to say “yes.”
Charles was almost sure his pre-teen daughter Sara knew she was loved even when she misbehaved. But he wanted his “almost” to be an “absolutely,” so he asked her: “Honey, do you know that you are loved, even when you misbehave?”
Sara answered quickly. “No.” She didn’t justify her answer.
Charles was shocked. After all, he is a loving and thoughtful dad who has worked hard to communicate his love. Yet Sara not only didn’t know it, she was quick in her answer. She decisively declared that she often didn’t feel loved when misbehaving.
The fact that Sara — parented by thoughtful, loving parents — did not always feel loved when she misbehaved is an indication that there are probably lots of kids like her. Unfortunately, even though parents almost unanimously say that they love their kids unconditionally, many of their kids doubt that they are loved unconditionally.
Sometimes it can feel like parents need super powers to survive the day and keep everything together. Kristi, a mom of two young kids, recently sent us this story about her super powers — but they’re not what she thought they were…
Words matter! What we say and how we say things to our kids matters immensely. With so much potential influence to what we say, it’s important to make sure that we communicate messages of unconditional love and acceptance, during the good days and the rough ones too.
One fun way to plant seeds of unconditional love in our kids is having repeatable phrases, encouraging nicknames, and fun family code words to remind our kids that they are loved no matter what.