Updated: May 9
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Many times, it looks as if everyone else has it figured out and you are the only one that is not getting it "right" as a parent. However this is not actually correct!
All parents feel helpless and hopeless at times.
There are several reasons for this!
There is no manual that is individually designed for your specific child, so there is a lot of guess work involved.
Children do not have the ability to fully regulate their emotions and ask for what they need.
You are human and may have strong emotions that are hard to control.
Your child knows your triggers and has the ability to push your buttons, evoking your strong emotions.
What is the solution?
It is important to examine the core issues. The book Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control states that all people tend to act out of two basic emotions, Love or Fear. This includes the children who are misbehaving and parents who are trying to control the behavior. We tend to parent out of our own insecurities. These insecurities often are from our own childhood and manifest in a fear-based reaction. The fear-based reaction is to feel angry toward your child, believing your child is manipulative. This leads to us trying to control our children through punishment. However, this is not helpful!
How do we react out of love?
The root word for discipline is discipleship. Discipleship is like a mentorship and involves a relationship. This is not ordinary relationship. This is a relationship where you, as the parent, are solely responsible for the physical, and emotional welfare of your child. This is a relationship where you teach lessons to equip your child to live as a successful adult. Walking beside someone with love requires us to die to our insecurities and exhibit the characteristics of patience, kindness, not insisting on having things our way all the time, not irritable or resentful, and bearing all things. This feels like an impossible task, especially when your child is pushing your buttons.
How do we put this into practice?
We need to check ourselves as parents emotionally. What insecurities are we reacting from? Examine the thoughts and feelings that are influencing your behavior. Reacting out of a fear-based response is not helpful so what thought pattern is fueling that feeling? This may require you to seek outside help from a friend, mentor, pastor, or therapist. Do not be afraid to admit you need help. Isolating yourself feeds the insecurities and overall diminishes your effectiveness as a parent.
We need to check ourselves as parents physically. We are the primary role models for our children. So if we are reacting in anger, yelling, throwing things, acting in an “out of control manner”, or taking out our frustrations on our children, we need to stop. We are expecting them to emotionally regulate so we need to hold ourselves to the same standard. Again, this may require outside help. Do not be afraid to admit you need help.
Does this mean there are no consequences for our children’s behaviors?
Absolutely not! Part of discipline is consequences for inappropriate behavior. However, if we as parents are not able to control ourselves, the consequences are futile.
Children learn more from our behavior than our words.
Often I ask adult clients what they learned from their parents. Many times, they recall the behaviors of the parents and not the words. Allow your behavior as a parent to be honorable and to teach helpful lessons.
Let us walk this journey with you: Check out our parent resources to help you respond to your child in love.