Do you struggle to get your kids to listen… and obey without turning into the mom version of the Green Man and going all Hulk Smash on your kids? (Sorry, my son is obsessed with superheroes right now!)
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 yelling in anger, I just 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’ve suddenly been struck with a hearing problem.
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
The first step to getting your kids to listen when you’re disciplining is to not be angry. Feels impossible, right?
I mean, sure they “hear” you, but our goal is for them to listen which isn’t the same thing.
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, and kids lose respect for yelling parents.
I thought it was working 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 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 to 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!
Lax Parenting is your Enemy
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. #MomWin
He asks if he can walk, and since you only had to run in for a couple things (another #MomWin) 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!! Here’s the kicker, 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 #MomWin). To top it off, your son didn’t get a full nap today and you’re so exhausted you think you might need glasses.
This time 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 single time.
The Importance of Staying Consistent
Children desperately need consistency to learn. Not only do they need to know what to except, but that expectation you need shouldn’t change every day of the week. And we can’t be wishy-washy.
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 its 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 and authority.
In short, they learn not to trust what we 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.
Not only should our discipline be consistent but it also needs to 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. There’s a clear difference between firm and harsh.
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 only be done in love. Although it can clearly be misused and over-used.
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, mean words, shaming, 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.
Discipline Should Come From 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.
I want to emphasize here that the actual form of discipline and punishment you choose is not as important as being consistent and doing want you say.
Not only that, but each child is different and will respond differently to various forms of discipline such as timeouts, removal of privileges, and so on. There is no cookie-cutter formula that’ll work for every kid.
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!