Ok, so this article is one that may be somewhat controversial, but stick with me through the end. If you have differing views on raising your child, I completely respect that and hope you can do the same with my point of view.
What I’m about to write I wrote about a little more in detail. You can read it here; Plug In to Your Child, Ages 4-9: Connect to Your Child’s Heart and Motivate Great Behavior.
Our parenting journey began with elation. Birth is such an amazing experience. And then there’s those early days where you replace dates with friends for just sitting on the couch to stare and giggle at your new little child as he makes squinty faces, stretches and makes goaty noises, and then farts like an adult.
This is the only thing I had really prepared for. I honestly hadn’t given much thought to how we would train our son as he grew.
The fact is, I didn’t train him at all. Well, I should qualify that….. I didn’t intentionally train him. I had trained him in plenty of ways that in retrospect I hadn’t intended to; like mommy is only serious when she speaks loudly, gets a mean look on her face, and begins to count to 3.
So, when he was a 4, 5, 6 year old child and angry as all get out, threw fits on the floor, freaked out and ripped posters off of his walls after I disciplined him…..I remember thinking, “I love my son, but I don’t like him!”
I’m pretty sure the feeling was mutual. My husband and I got along great, not so much with my son and I.
And the thing is, it was all me. I needed to understand some things about raising my child in order for that to change.
Most likely, if this hits close to home, you’re not much different than me; You love your child, but there are times that you don’t like your him or her.
I’ll often see a child acting out in the supermarket with exasperated frustrated parents trying to control them. I don’t judge because I have been there. Just remembering brings up the helpless feelings that I felt in public situations when behavior went south.
In two weeks this all changed. Literally two weeks. Don’t despair mama! It can for you too.
BUT, it requires work. Hard consistent work. This may be one thing that you haven’t felt like doing consistently up to this point. Your relationship with your child is at risk if you don’t decide to put in all the hard work that it takes.
The first thing is that I recognized was that I had made parenting mostly about me. I grew frustrated at my son when he didn’t listen to me and it irritated me. I grew angry at him for not obeying because I wanted the convenience of not having to work hard to make him obey. I didn’t like him at times because he was disrespectful and I was his mom and deserved respect.
Do you see the common theme I and me??
I had a friend who was frustrated with her 2 year old son. She and her husband loved being around people, playing games, and visiting. But her son ran them ragged. He required total supervision, and they would argue over whose turn it was to watch him because they each would rather be playing games or visiting.
She expressed to me how utterly exhausted she was and asked advice. I asked some probing questions to gauge how willing she honestly was to receive some fairly tough advice. After a few questions, I knew that she was more interested in emotional support than advice for change when she admitted that she was lazy and just couldn’t be consistent.
Mamas, raising our children is not all about us. We HAVE to be willing to do the hard work it requires in order to reap the benefits of toddlers that know how to listen and obey and can be trusted not to throw a fit at the supermarket, children who are happy and likable and eager to please, tweens who are emotionally stable and helpful, and teens who are loyal, friendly, and caring people.
After I recognized this, I had to figure out how I was going to change me. You can read about that in these two articles here. Part 1 and Part 2.
Secondly, after I changed myself, I had to work on retraining my son.
This started out as a conversation between my husband, our son, and I. We asked his forgiveness for not being the parents that God wanted us to be. We asked him if he wanted to get rid of the anger and conflict in our home and have less discipline. What kid wouldn’t?? Of course he forgave us and said yes.
(In my opinion, the methods used for disciple are not the most important focus, so much as your consistency with whatever method of discipline that you use. Obviously the method you use has to be pleasing the the Lord, within the law, applied in a calm reasonable manner, and for the sole benefit of correcting the child to effect change in behavior—not to blow off steam because your kid ticked you off.)
At first he didn’t really know what he was getting himself into. But as the week went on, I could not believe the transformation some simple adjustments to our parenting would make.
We began to address heart issues, not only behavior issues.
Before the new us and our new parenting style, bad attitudes were acceptable as long as his complied. NOW, bad attitudes were no longer acceptable….no part of a bad attitude….at all.
We taught him that God had placed us as his parents and that when he had a bad attitude about when we told him no, or when he didn’t want to obey, this meant that he thought he should be his own boss and knew what was best for himself. It was a rebellious attitude.
We called him on it every.single.time, and believe me, it took a lot of work in the first few days.
I can’t even explain to you how stressful it was. Our parenting habits were totally changing and we were acting in ways we never had before. I had previously been relieved just to get him to comply even if it was after a long drawn out battle of wills. Now I disciplined even his eye rolls. We had explained to him how we expected him to act when he was disciplined. If he reacted angrily or rebellious to discipline, there would be further consequences.
But along with the increased discipline was a bunch of training. This training was to teach him how we wanted him to act.
While we were setting clear limits and expectations for him we watched this angry young boy transform into a secure loving submissive little guy who was beginning to thrive under new leadership that helped him know how to we wanted him to act.
He had been confused before with our mixed messages and inconsistencies. Poor guy was just frustrated and angry with us because he wanted to please us, but he just didn’t know what we wanted.
After he had to be disciplined, he would come and sit with either my husband or I, whoever it was that did the disciplining and cuddle with us. He was so secure now. We hadn’t even realized how our inconsistency in what we expected from him had caused him to be so insecure.
This hard work that I’m talking about took us about 2 weeks. Then it was something we had to maintain. It wasn’t this intense his entire childhood. But if we wouldn’t have maintained it, then it would have been to our son’s detriment.
With the Lord’s help we succeeded in connecting stronger with our son and saving our relationship with him before we had caused permanent damage to it.
There is so much more that I could say. In fact I have said more on this very subject in my book Plug In to Your Child, Ages 4-9: Connect to Your Child’s Heart and Motivate Great Behavior by Mendi Everett
Get your copy and be encouraged. You can connect to your child’s heart and learn to like him as well as love him.