Perhaps the most important part of transitioning to GBD is discovering and developing new tools. You will come to realize that you are only limited by your imagination. The most important aspect to GBD tools is that they are proactive. You will find yourself less worried about figuring out a way to respond to something that has already happened and more focused on how to move forward from a situation. You will find that you are not imposing penalties for power struggles as you are no longer engaging in them. Your child may begin expressing anger inappropriately and you might challenge them to do an angry dance or draw you a picture of their anger. You might pick them up and shake out their grumpies.
Life can be fun while you teach important lessons and keep your children safe
A child might not want to hold hands in the parking lot, but they may link their train to yours as you go chugging to your car. “Wait,” you might be saying, “That sounds like you’re just having fun.” My response is that life can be fun while you teach important lessons and keep your children safe.
I count to 3 with my children but it’s not because something bad will happen to them if they don’t comply to my wishes by the time I get there — it’s so that they know how long they have to transition to what I’m requiring of them. If they can transition themselves, they have more say in what it looks like. If they need my help, then I get to have all the say. Limited choices help children feel powerful over their lives, but only over as much as I’m willing to give to them and that is only as much as they are ready for.
The key is that even though I set the standard for behavior in my family (and many people are surprised to learn that my standard is much higher than even most spanking parents) I do not expect my children to be able to meet the standard until they are ready and able to do so. In the meantime it is my responsibility to fill in the gap between the standard and what they are capable of doing.
Because courtesy is important to me, I will say “Thank you” to someone if my child is being shy, thereby showing courtesy to both my child and the other person. Because respect is important to me, I will speak respectfully to my child and only listen to them when they are speaking respectfully to me. Because gentleness is important to me, I will not raise my hand or any object to my child and I will not allow them to raise their hand to me.
You are the authority in your home. You don’t need to abuse that authority to raise well behaved, respectful, genuine, God-loving children. In fact, the less you abuse your authority the more you will be able to raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
We are the first lesson to our children of who God is, let us make sure it is a real lesson. We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Despite what you may have been told about a child needing to fear you, we are told in 1 John 4:18 that there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear.
Let’s get the fear out of parenting. It’s time to start modeling appropriate behavior and the fruit of the Spirit for our children. It’s time to be kind and firm, teach and correct, respect and be respected in a way that can only come from relationship.