First things first, I am NOT the best parent out there 😂. In fact, I am a BIG believer that there is no “best” way. You are simply the best parent for your child because you love and know them best. Whatever your methods, as long as you have that, don’t let anyone else call the shots!
That said, I developed this acronym earlier in the year for some of my own parenting goals, and I would love to share it with you! Take and leave what you will.
B: Be calm and positive.
I heard somewhere, and I honestly can’t remember where, that none of us as human beings like to listen to people we don’t like. If someone you don’t like is trying to teach you something, you are more than likely to write it off.
So, when I discipline my kids, I tell myself this over and over: be calm and positive.
Let’s just say it’s an attribute I am still developing 😅.
E: Enforce meaningful boundaries consistently.
Next, I have found that when I am inconsistent, my kids will call me out — either by acting out anyway, or in actuality. And I say meaningful, because you have to pick and choose your battles when it comes to consistency, right? Otherwise I would be getting after them all. of. the. time.
But they are good kids! And if they remember one emotion from their childhood, I want it to be LOVE. I want them to know that I love being around them.
So I sat down and made a list of the boundaries that matter to me, and why. What are the over-arching lessons I want to teach them? Does this expectation fall under that, and is it within their capability to understand?
As my boundaries become more meaningful, I feel more confidence in consistently enforcing those consequences and helping them to grow.
If it isn’t doing that (which I often catch myself doing), I take some time to breathe and remember the bigger picture, and I find a way to re-direct. Here are some examples for you:
Behaviors That Annoy Me
- Repeating themselves/changing their mind
- Not listening/paying attention
Behaviors That Matter to Me
- Being able to express their feelings using words
- Knowingly creating extra work for others
- Being unkind to others or to their things
And here are some feelings that might be behind my desire to discipline:
- Mom is “in charge”. You need to respect me because I have authority.
- I want to raise you to be a loving human. You should respect me, because I love and respect you.
- It’s not fair! and/or I’m feeling out of control in regards to my own emotions.
- I spot a lesson that I feel would be meaningful for you and is a concept within your reach to grasp.
I’ll let you sift through that on your own and decide where you might be coming from/want to be coming from.
S: Spend quality time together.
In a previous article, I mentioned two studies that indicate it’s all about the relationship. For my kids, building that relationship means investing quality time into the things they love to do and want to share with me. They need unstructured, one-on-one time with me EVERY DAY.
And, don’t judge me 😅, between all of the other things that we do — homeschool, letters, reading, writing, getting outdoors, feeding, cleaning, bathing, changing, dressing — and because it’s difficult to get time with them free of interruptions from their sibling, I shoot for 10 minutes, per child, per day. 10 Minutes! Completely doable. If I can look back on the day, and I got that in with each child and with my spouse, I count that as a HUGE WIN.
T: To understand, children must first be understood.
Last of all, I am working on reminding myself to listen as well as teach. They need to feel like their emotion, their action, their interest, their existence! matters to me. And it does! Of course it does! But often I can be quick to try and get my message or story across, without truly listening to theirs.
And so I repeat these phrases to myself throughout the day, and I keep working at it. One day maybe I’ll get there, but in the meantime:
I have the power to change the feeling in my home.
So that’s what I focus on the most. Am I doing enough of these enough of the time, that I am increasing the love?
Here’s to God’s grace, help, love, and patience toward me, and hoping that I can offer my children the same, with His assistance.