Thursday, September 27, 2012

Them. Not You.

Here's a little tidbit of trivia about me: when I am teaching/speaking somewhere, I am a total one-track mind for about a month prior, and especially the week of. That is why I have only fit in one work out this week and my blog has been a little neglected lately. That is also why I can't think of anything else to write about today besides what I taught about yesterday.

So, here's a little excerpt from my talk. You're welcome.

If I had to boil down my "Mom Anger" to one root cause, it would have to be control. Plain and simple, my kids are either doing something I don't want them to do (whining, burping, sitting on his brother's head, taking off a mannequin's clothes, etc...) OR they're not doing something I want them to do (sleep when I tell them to sleep, eat the food I provide, pick up their toys).

As a mom, it feels like I should be able to control those behaviors. Push this button, pull this string and, Voila! A well-mannered child. We're big and they're little. We should be able to control them, right?

But we all know that that's not how it works so it can feel quite frustrating (maddening) that we can't get our kids to do what we want them to do. [Insert the Wrath-of-Mommy here.]

What I've learned is that I can't control my child's behavior, but I can train him effectively and discipline him consistently.

Training our kids includes two basic steps:
1- clear instruction on what the appropriate behavior looks like
2- consistent consequences to deter them from continuing in the negative behavior

Andy & I have found that the stronger-willed the child, the more creative the consequence must be. A consequence is totally ineffective if the child doesn't mind it. If you put your child in time-out but they sit there with a big grin on their face, time to find a new consequence.

The consequence MUST be unpleasant for them.

That eliminates the need to be angry. I don't have to stomp around and grouch about how they never put their toys away. While I put the toys in jail and my kids sit on the floor crying, I can say with empathy, "Man, that's a bummer that your toys are getting put in toy jail. I bet next time you'll remember to clean them up, huh?"

Secondly, the consequence must be unpleasant for them, NOT YOU. 

Don't take away their 30 minutes of TV time if that is your saving grace while you make dinner. Think of something else that would be equally painful for them, but not ruin your life at the same time.

And last, don't feel the pressure to come up with the consequence immediately.

The older your child gets, the more space there can be between the behavior and the consequence. Sometimes one of my kids will do something that makes me SO mad, but I have no idea what I should do in that moment. All I see is red. Probably the best thing to do in that moment is nothing. Simply say, "What just happened is not okay and you will need a consequence for that. But I'm not sure what I want that consequence to be yet. So I'm going to talk to your dad and we will decide together." Then, make sure you do follow up and administer the consequence later. Just because you've cooled off, don't think, "Oh, it wasn't that big of a deal." If it needed a consequence, you're not doing yourself OR your child any favors by not following through.

Being faithful with clear instruction and consistent consequences gives us a tangible plan to train our children. No need to angrily spin our wheels over bad behavior. Trying to control leads to anger. Effective training leads to progress. 

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