Don’t worry. This isn’t a blog post about spanking kids or putting them in time out.
This is about you. And that we as parents are possibly disciplining the wrong people.
Imagine that you have taken a brand new job, that has a completely different set of rules than your last job, that your boss literally told you when/how to do every part of your job, and you were responsible for anything that they didn’t tell you to do, and they were doing it all in a different language. While this example may be a little extreme, it seems like something similar to what children experience. Before you shut down your computer in a huff, hear me out.
Children have very few options in everyday life. They are told what to do, how to do it, where to go, and all the while trying to understand with whatever limited cognitive skills they have to process what they’re being told. They are taken places that are not always appropriate for their level of attention, (read: restaurants for a long dinner with you and your friends, or even a long dinner over the holidays), and then expected to behave a certain way once they are there. As adults, we have more choice in the places we choose to go, or the things we do, and for the most part children do not, and are expected to still behave in a certain way once they are there. If you were overly exhausted/emotional/uninterested in a certain gathering, as an adult you could choose not to attend and do something else with your time and your energy and save yourself (and the public) from whatever mood you might be in. Children on the other hand are usually taken anyway, and while they have much less self control, or the ability to choose something else, they are expected to behave a certain way.
Please somebody explain this to me because it seems absolutely insane.
Furthermore, when children don’t get their own way, or want something and don’t get it, they get upset. Have you ever been upset by something you didn’t get that was really important to you? Sure, another toy from the store may not be important to you as the adult, and it could be to your child.
The point of all of this is to say that as the adults, as the ones who have been here the longest, who seemingly know more, are the ones who should be responsible for our own discipline, as well as what it is that we expose our children to that is not appropriate for them at the time. When you get upset, remember that you are teaching things all the times to your child-if you discipline your child for getting upset when something happens that they don’t like, do you in turn do that for yourself? Can we add in more compassion for our children who are literally JUST learning things about how to be on the planet, and even if there wasn’t a lot of grace bestowed upon us as we were growing up and learning, doesn’t mean we need to be stingy with it now. Take the time to teach the things that are important and be gracious with them as they learn, just as you would want somebody to be gracious with you as you learn a new skill, and remember that your kids do not have the same priorities, brain development, or ideas as you. So when things fall apart, or your child doesn’t behave the way you want them to in a certain moment, remember that YOU taking responsibility will have a far greater impact on you and them, than you getting upset with them. That is the discipline of responsibility that we get to carry and practice as parents.
Where could a shift in taking responsibility give a whole new perspective and atmosphere to you as a parent and in your family?