Discipline out of love

My husband and I are raising 3 wonderful little boys (4 and a half, 2 and a half, 1 and a half). They have always been obedient, good nature type of children. Lately, however, they are challenging me and showing me how little patience I actually have, which I’m not particularly proud of.

One day, they really managed to make me angry. I started yelling at them, spanked them and then my oldest son replied in a soft voice: “Mommy, we’re only kids!” Well, that felt like a cold shower… I counted to 10, okay, maybe 20, and then I said “Okay, guys, I overreacted, will you forgive me?” They came running, eager to hug and kiss me, and let me tell you, the grace that kids show is really humbling. That day I was grateful for their sweet innocence and their short term memory. :)

After that episode, I realized that I really have to work on the “staying calm” part. Because the truth is, we’re on the same side. Our job is to nurture and guide, theirs is to grow and learn, but we are partners in growth. If we can take the long view, we’re more likely to remember that when our kids trigger us, we have an opportunity to teach them the most important lessons.

So, each and every time I find myself losing it, I just STOP, BREATHE, REMEMBER, CONNECT.

STOP: I close my mouth in mid-sentence if I have to.

BREATHE: Deep breathing is supposed to calm me. I even count…

REMEMBER: He is acting like a child because he IS a child. I’m the grown-up here.

CONNECT: I hug my child and tell him I love him.

Later, I can discuss the problem with them:

We had a hard time today” or “I am working hard not to yell”. “What can each of us do differently next time?

I guess most of us are still working on the “staying calm” part, which is proof that we’re only human :). There’s really no magic to staying centered. It’s just committing yourself, and then practicing. And then forgiving yourself when you fall short, and practicing some more.

I want to discipline out of love, not anger, I want to allow them to discover this big world by showing them grace, and remember that they are, in fact, just children!

Originally published at mnlit.com.