Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Do You Really Hate Your Kids?

I'm writing this post from Colorado where I and my family heard two parents within a couple of hours of each other profanely berate their kids in public. They swore at them!  And it was for nothing - such as not doing exactly what was expected of them while getting into the car. My wife, daughter and I just looked at each other.  I thought to myself, "Do these people really feel the hate they appeared to have for their kids at that moment?"

Now granted all of us parents have blown it at times saying things we wish we could take back.  There aren't any perfect parents. I'm sure the parents I saw don't really hate their offspring. But what could be the purpose of yelling at kids and much worse cursing at them?  What are these people teaching their kids?  Couldn't they express their displeasure or concern without the drama?

In my thinking there's no reason to ever yell at our kids unless they're in immediate danger.  Yelling never adds to the effectiveness of our speech. Never. However, it can do much hurtful damage, some of which may stay with our children forever. What will we do when our kids really mess up?  How many kids end up feeling they can never measure up simply because their mother and/or father couldn't lovingly and firmly discipline or express their expectations?

There are alternatives to the tempting verbal barrages we could serve up when our kids act up.  In fact, I've written in previous posts about some practical parenting techniques that are most effective depending upon the age of the child.  Go back and look at some of those.  However, there are a few helpful basics that apply no matter how old your kids are.

First of all, when your kids are driving you crazy such as not getting into the car, failing to follow through on your request at home, or just being squirrelly at the dinner table, stop and take a breath. That's right - pause and think about what you're going to do.  You can then say to your son something like, "Come here next to me right now," and expect him to do it.  Be firm, no exceptions.  But you don't need to yell to get action.  Let your words be the motivator not your emotions.  And if little Ryan doesn't come, appropriately help him in one form or another. With little ones that may mean actually picking them up or ideally leading them by the hand. Let them know you mean it and follow through without the high emotion and words that simply hurt.

Second, give them choices"Sarah, you can either stand here by mom or sit in the front seat of the car but you cannot run across the parking lot."  And then don't be satisfied until she is doing one or the other.  To be honest most of our fits of anger come from feeling like we are losing the battle with a child and we're not willing to do what it takes to win appropriately.  Is winning easy?  Not necessarily. But if we give clear choices as the only "win" for the child, then we will tend to have more satisfying and less destructive experiences.

Third, be ready ahead of time for the 'rough water.'  Being here in Colorado reminds me of some whitewater rafting I've done with my family in this beautiful state.  And I remember that before we ever got in the water the guide would give us instructions on what to do especially when we hit the bigger rapids.  In other words, before we got in the rough water we practiced and prepared in the still water. The same is true with parenting.  We must make our choices regarding what we will do and won't do - ahead of time.

We will prepare and even practice saying and doing the most effective things before we hit the class- four rapids of parenting. If you're married work these things out with your spouse as well.  It's important that you be on the same team and using essentially the same tactics so the kids receive consistent responses no matter which parent is doing the disciplining.

Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue."  Don't let your harsh words even in the emotion of a difficult moment cause undue hurt and long-term harm.  Keep even your words of correction meaningful, helpful and consistent. It will be worth it and make times with your kids more fun and memorable.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

No comments:

Post a Comment