Reader Question: How can I discipline my children without losing my cool?
Ten simple words make up this question, yet the answer is so complex, so polarizing, and varied, thousands of books written from every opinion and worldview can be found; each with a different formula on how to “properly” discipline your child without losing your composure. (It’s like this parenting thing isn’t easy or something.)
I know this for a fact. I’ve read many of them, and they all promise if you simply follow the steps given, consistently, you’ll have an immediately obedient child in no time flat. If the techniques don’t work, then you must not be doing it right.
And to that I say, “Hogwash!”
So how do you discipline your children without losing your cool?
I wish I had the perfect method to share with you, I don’t. There isn’t a perfect, universal way to discipline. I can, however, share with you my story.
I’ve been nursing or pregnant for 6 out of the last 7 years. To say my hormones have been wacky would be an understatement. But something changed after I weaned my son. I went from wacky hormones to probably having late onset postpartum depression. My anxiety was at an all time high and almost overnight I became a yelling mom.
Scratch that, I became a screaming mom. I felt out of control. Every little thing my children did wrong, normal kid stuff, drove me crazy and lead to the screaming.
I am so grateful for the night I saw fear in my two year old’s eyes.
I can’t remember what she did, but whatever it was I wound up carrying her to her bed for a time out screaming at her the entire way to the bedroom. When I sat her down her eyes were filled with tears and fear was etched on every corner of her face.
What was I doing? Sure screaming might stop a two year old’s undesired behavior, but at what cost?
I left the room to cool off, and came back a few minutes later to apologize, by this point I was crying more than she was. What I had done was wrong, and my daughter needed to know how wrong I had been. A simple sorry wouldn’t cut it though, a change needed to be made.
That look of fear on my daughter’s face was my turning point. I wish things had never gotten to the point my child was fearful of me, but I’m grateful for the catalyst to change.
The next day I started googling “how to stop yelling at your kids” and came across the website, The Orange Rhino. It was a like a light bulb went off in my head.
Here was a woman who wanted to stop yelling at her kids, and to do it she used the color orange in her home as a reminder. You can read about the steps she used to stop yelling here, they really are excellent.
I started thinking about how I could incorporate colors into my life to help me remember not to yell. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that I needed more than a reminder. I needed divine intervention. That’s when I came up with the idea of nail polish.
The following day, when I did my grocery shopping I selected two bottles of garish nail polish. A bight yellow and a bright green, both fast drying, both colors I wouldn’t normally wear.
The game plan was any time I’d paint my nails, touch up a chip, or even look down at them and see the bright colors I would pray, “Lord help me to be slow to anger (like a yellow light) and quick to joy (like a green light).”
My nails became constant reminders to pray and ask for God’s help. And more than once the nails caught my eye before I would start yelling. The prayer became an automatic, reoccurring part of my day.
God used nail polish to change my heart. Sure looking at my hands served as a reminder not to yell, but God was the one who changed me. It was the power of God behind the prayers that enabled me to get out of the yelling habit. And while I’m nowhere near perfect yet, God enables me to grow in His love every day.
Our goal when disciplining our children shouldn’t be immediate obedience. It sounds nice on the surface, but really it stops short of what our children truly need long term.
Our children need to develop a loving relationship with God. That’s the ultimate goal.
There is no one “child training method” that will work for every child/parent. We need to be at God’s feet begging for wisdom and guidance every day.
While books can be helpful, some can also be dangerous. It was my desire that my children obey immediately and without question that lead to my frustration, and then yelling.
My parenting comes from a much more God lead, rather than “expert” lead place now. If there was one formula out there that would work for you and your child I would share it. Since there isn’t however please keep this in mind: God promises us wisdom. If we ask in faith He will give it to us. He cares about your children’s hearts and souls more than you ever could. Your parenting is important to Him, so take it before His throne.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. James 1:5-6
What do you do to keep your cool when you discipline your children?
Side Note: If you find yourself with postpartum depression and you can’t “snap out of it,” please see your doctor. They can help you find ways to fight things naturally and with medication if needed. You’re mental health and your home’s happiness is worth it.
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Sharing at The Time-Warp Wife, Makeovers & Motherhood, Serving Joyfully, The Jenny Evolution, A Look at the Book, Worshipful Living, What Joy Is Mine, Enchanted Homeschooling Mom and Serving Joyfully.