Let Consequences do the Screaming!
I have always made jokes on myself that I resemble the Incredible Hulk when I discipline my kids. “Please don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry,” says Bruce Banner, the actor representing the Hulk. Yup! That’s me when I can’t control the reactive monster within me.
Unfortunately, all my wisdom and knowledge prove useless when I clash with my children. However, one helpful principle I have adopted lately is letting consequences do the screaming for me!
For many years, I have battled with disciplining my middle child. Most mornings, he sleeps late, and I get frustrated because we hardly ever leave on time to any of our appointments. The same behavior was daily repeated. I would start by gently waking him up, then nagging him about being lazy till I ended up screaming to get him moving. The atmosphere was excruciatingly tense with our never-ending ugly fights.
I didn’t realize that I was playing a major role in this repetitive pattern. One particular Sunday, I woke him up saying, “Kale, we are leaving at 9.45 am for church. We hope you will be ready by then.” Instead of following up on him, I focused on keeping my calm and getting myself ready. Do you know what happened at 9.45 am? He was still lying in bed having breakfast, so my husband and I left without saying a word. After 15 minutes, he called us desperate and distressed. We told him that this was his consequence that he had to bear.
These might seem like minor issues. They are not. Life consequences are not under our control as parents. There will be consequences outside of our home that will affect our children’s lives. We learned to use this principle without becoming extremists. Consequences should not be tougher for us to enforce than for our kids to experience.
When we regain a position of personal control, we create a positive, beneficial position of influence on our children.
Finally, keep in mind that just as a lawyer and a doctor have to practice to be competent, we too as parents need to practice “Scream Free skills.” For sure, this road won’t be easy! However, when we regain a position of personal control, we create a positive, beneficial position of influence on our children.
Tune in next week as I cover an important principle that runs quite contrary to all that we’ve traditionally learned about parenting. How to put on our own oxygen mask first?