You are learning something NEW. Transitions are difficult for many people — children and adults. You will have impulses to react out of habit. You may even find yourself resorting to old tools and needing to cast aside tools until you figure out what to do instead.
Your children will also need to adjust. Because love and discipline are so intertwined children come to view their parents love as being equivalent to how they discipline, and especially if they have been told, “I’m spanking you because I love you,” they may well fear the loss of love from a parent who stops spanking. Regardless of how you’ve been parenting, as things change they will test the boundaries. This is normal and it’s important that you convey to your children firm boundaries, even though you’re now doing it in a kind way. As you both get used to the new way of doing things you will find that everything gets much MUCH better and you will all be glad you stuck it out.
So where do I start?
Many parents report that their most successful first step is sitting down with their children and apologizing for things they have done in the past that they now regret. This may include spankings, time outs, yelling, or any punishment or permissiveness that they have fallen into. They assure their children that they were doing what they thought was best, but they are learning something new and want to change the way they get along. They also ask their child’s forgiveness for what they have done. It is empowering to a child to know that your love for them is not attached to their behavior and it is humbling to you to seek forgiveness for a wrong you have done.
You may also want to tell your children that you’re not perfect and will no doubt make mistakes, but that you will also take responsibility for them and it’s not their fault if you slip. This is very important if punishments have been given under the idea that the child is making the parent punish them due to their behavior. Children need to know that Mom and Dad are responsible for their own choices before they can begin to take responsibility for theirs.
The most important tool we have for parenting is what we model for our children
Figure out who you are supposed to control
So much about punishments is a focus on ‘other control’, but we only have enough control for ourselves. Even if we can create the illusion of control over our children’s behavior, we cannot control what is in their heart and mind. The most important tool we have for parenting is what we model for our children. When we direct our control towards ourselves we are modeling another fruit of the Spirit for them and we are teaching them one of the most valuable things we can teach our children. Self-control is a tool that will serve us and our children throughout our lives.
What is a reflection on me is not another person’s behavior, but my response to it
Remember that parents should not be judged by their child’s behavior, but by their response to it.
Because we are all individuals, we need to separate ourselves from our children and our identity from their behavior, especially since too much punishment occurs because a parent is embarrassed. What is a reflection on me is not another person’s behavior, but my response to it. The same is true of our children.
Children misbehave and lose their self-control for so many reasons including disappointment, frustration, hunger, being overtired, and others. Once you begin to see your child as a full person who is deserving of respect and kindness you will find that you can respond to their emotions without being caught up in them. This is an especially difficult idea to embrace because our culture truly believes that people need to feel bad in order to do better. But it is people who feel good who do better! So making someone doing bad feel worse does not motivate them to do better. When adults are upset we suggest taking a break or doing something to get them refocused. GBD tools do the same for children.