Do you struggle to get your kids to listen… and obey without turning into the mom version of the Green Man?
I know I’ve been there a thousand and one times!
I have a confession to make… I’m a loud-ish person who’s OK with using my outside voice to be heard… inside. It’s not that I’m really yelling. I have high energy and I find that my kids don’t hear me unless my volume is turned up. 😉
You know, when it’s time to leave the house and your children are nowhere to be found or when it’s dinner time and I’m serving vegetables and they’re nowhere to be found.
So, picking up the volume in my house works.
Can you relate?
In the meantime, I’m looking into installing one of those home intercom systems! Problem solved.
There’s one time I don’t raise my voice anymore, though, and that’s when I’m disciplining. I’ve been on a very long journey from an angry yelling mom to one who knows how to control anger (most days) and still gets her kids to listen.
Do I still have a set-back every now and then and yell at my kids in anger? Sure, but those are infrequent and much less than they used to be.
Why Yelling Doesn’t Get Your Kids to Listen…Really
The first step to getting your kids to listen when you’re disciplining is to not be angry. Feels impossible, right?
Even if you need to step away, it’s important to release or control your personal frustration before diving right in. That’s because disciplining when you’re angry undermines your authority.
I’ve come to learn something along the way. Yelling really never worked!
I thought it did because when I talked normally, no one ever moved. Until I broke out in a nice yell. That’s only partially true because they simply learned to respond to the yelling.
Not only does disciplining when you’re angry undermine your authority, you’re also teaching your child how to have loose and untamed emotions by watching you. Ouch!
Yelling like a lunatic and saying hurtful things to your children can have lasting consequences. And whether they tell you or not, those words run deep.
Our yelling is really more about us than it is about them.
This is so, so important for us as parents to let this really sink in. When we get overwhelmed at the situation and break out into a yelling fit we are acting no different than our toddler who drops to the floor in a temper tantrum.
And when we feel tempted to have a mommy tantrum… we need to give ourselves a mommy timeout.
This is really important is allow us to cool down so we don’t let our emotions take over and do or say something we’ll most certainly regret. And need to apologize for!
What Does Work
Lax parenting – without firm and consistent boundaries – opens the door to being challenged by your child at some point… or every point.
And we have the tendency be most lax when all is well and we’re having a stress-free day. Little things get overlooked over and over again. We’re afraid to make any adjustments so we don’t rock this peaceful boat we’re in.
For example, you’re in the grocery store with your toddler and things are going great. Happy dance!
He asks if he can walk, and since you only had to run in for a couple things (another happy dance!) you let him walk.
In a nano-second, he starts to touch things. He’s just touching and not knocking things over… so what’s the big deal you tell yourself. Deep down, you’re terrified to do anything to end this no-chaos bliss thing happening. So you don’t tell him to stop.
But wait!! He’s just mentally and physically recorded that it’s ok to touch stuff at the store.
Fast forward to your next trip to the store when you need to grab a cart full of stuff (no happy dance). To top it off, your son didn’t get a full nap at school and you’re so exhausted you think you might need glasses.
Now your son reaches out to grab and pull down every item he can get his hands on. You’re embarrassed, frustrated, and headed for a melt-down.
The key to setting boundaries is making them consistent. In the Good Times AND in the Bad! They need to know what to expect EVERY time.
The Importance of Accountability
Accountability is something that applies to all of us no matter our age. Accountability is taking personal responsibility for our actions and the consequences that go with those actions.
The key to teaching our children accountability is to let our actions do the talking instead of our words.
I use to be the Queen of the Threat. I’d rattle off statements like, “Do you want to go into Timeout?” or “Do you want a spanking?”
When in reality, I didn’t plan on following through. I was banking on the threat doing it’s job. But the truth is, our kids are just too smart for that. They can see right through our weakness. I think they can smell it too!
Inconsistent or nonexistent consequences do nothing short of undermining our integrity.
In short, they learn not to trust what you say.
Here’s a quick tip – make sure to think about the punishment when you’re not emotional. If you rattle off that your teenager is grounded for 6 months… if it doesn’t fit the crime, you’re going to be in a dilemma.
Do I let her off the punishment early or make her stick it out just to prove a point?
Either way isn’t the best scenario.
Firm doesn’t mean harsh.
Let me quickly address that our discipline should be firm. They need to know you mean business.
But by the same token, they shouldn’t be afraid of you. I know, this kind of goes against many old-school parenting methods. But instilling fear is never helpful.
You may feel this is beneficial when your children are small, but as they get older – they need to know you’re there for them.
Think of all the crazy things young people have to deal with in our current times. Having a parent who blows their top over every little thing will keep your child from confiding in you – when they need you and your wisdom the most.
Let me also mention, that when I say harsh I’m not talking about spanking either. Spanking, done in a loving environment, without anger, can be a very effective discipline tool. And should be done in love.
Harsh discipline is done when we’re angry and led by our disappointment, embarrassment, guilt, or some other emotion. And can happen in every form of discipline from timeouts, lectures, and spanking.
The whole point of discipline is to teach our children what’s right and wrong. And we do this out of our love.
We discipline who we love
We see so much destruction in the news today, and I wonder how many of those individuals had no boundaries in their formative years.
Discipline, done the right way, is an act of love. It’s one way we keep our kids safe.
The Bible provides so much practical wisdom on correction and discipline. And the focal point always comes back to love. Proverbs 3:11-12
It’s our job, really our privilege, to shape our children’s lives in a positive way. Giving them the best possible chance at life by teaching them the proper way to conduct themselves.
This is an on-going process and one where we need to fully depend on the Grace of God to do well. And rest in that same Grace when we miss it because we all do!
Do you have some tried and trusted methods for getting your kids to listen? Share them in the comments below! We’d love to hear them!