Sometimes we all need to just take a time out
I often speak about requiring your kids to respond with first time obedience (first time means you say it, they do it the very first time  Posts on first time Obedience ) I did and still do expect my kids to respond not only to their Dad and I with first time obedience,  but also to the authorities in their life.  When they don’t, we have a problem and we try to take care of that right away.

However, requiring first time obedience doesn’t mean that we raise our voice, stop using polite words, like please, with our requests or respond with short tempers.  Our out of control behavior, harsh tones or shouting should not be excused just because our kids are not being obedient.  We need to be modeling how to handle conflict even when we are completely exasperated, tired or have dealt with our children on this very issue for the 453rd time.  Our response is just as important of a training tool as the discipline itself.  Our kids are watching and learning from us all the time. 

Here are some tools I have used to help me keep my cool during times of conflict.

1.  This is not about me. Knowing and sometimes repeating this mantra, “This is not about me.”  When my kids were young, I had a tendency to think every misbehavior was a direct reflection of my abilities.  A wise older friend reminded me that we all are fallen and fall short of the glory of God and we need to understand that our children are sinners and have a sin nature and that our job, as parents, is to give them the same grace and gentle correction that God gives us.  It is not about me but about training my children in the same manner that God trains me. The Bible is clear that a good parent disciplines a child He loves and since I know how gently, but consistently, God disciplines me then I need to afford my kids the same grace.

2. Don’t discipline if you are angry.  I have a time out chair, not only for the kids, but for me.  If I was angry, I had my kids sit on the couch in self control hands while I went to my chair with self-control hands.  My hands were generally clasped in prayer as I knew I needed to seriously calm down before I said or did something I would regret later.  My parents disciplined in anger and as I was a very strong willed child, that parenting crossed lines it should have never crossed and it was damaging to me.  Taking the time to gain self control and pray allowed me to show and train my kids in anger management and appropriate conflict resolution.  A parent yelling at a child, using hurtful words or tones is never good parenting.  Taking the time to calm down and pray is wise and is setting a great example for your children.

3. Set rules, expectations and consequences ahead of time. I found it infinitely helpful in my kid’s younger years to have talked through our rules and consequences of those rules ahead of time with my husband.  We used the Doorpost poster and filled all of it out with the rules, the appropriate Bible verses (the Biblical reason why) and the consequences for each and posted them in several areas in our home.  This allowed my husband and I to be on the same page and the rules and consequences be consistent no matter who was at home.  We shared these with grandparents and babysitters so that the rules never changed.

4. Give Grace. We all have bad days.  We all have days that we just can’t seem to get it together.  We might be tired or in pain or just having a hard day and as I appreciate it when I get grace on days like that, I want to give my kids that as well.  If your children are characterized by first obedience (they are first time obedient 80% of the time), and within the first hour of the day are in trouble for the third time, pull them aside and get eye to eye and just ask them what is going on.  Remind them of the rules and then maybe just snuggle and watch a cartoon together for a bit.  

5. Be willing to ask for forgiveness. Sometimes, I lose it. Sometimes, I yell. Sometimes, I say things I don’t mean. I am a sinner and fallible.  Sometimes, I need to say, “I am so sorry that I handled that so badly. Please forgive me for yelling. I was wrong.”  Whenever I have blown it and have needed to apologize and ask my children’s forgiveness, they have responded with such grace and love.  They humble me and have taught me how to accept other’s apologies. 

Parenting is hard. Training children is hard. However, we are doing more than just disciplining our children, we are training them to appropriately handle conflict with their spouses and children. One way I use to check myself is to ask whether I would be okay with my someday grandchildren be spoken to, disciplined and trained in the same manner I am speaking, disciplining or training my kids.  There have been times that the answer to this was a resounding no and then I had some work to do.  Funny, I have become a much better wife, friend and daughter because of the heart training I have had to do since becoming a Mom.  It’s hard, but worth it. 

Leave a Reply