Imagine a busy intersection where the traffic lights are not working and a police man has to direct the traffic. The police officer has total control. He's in a uniform. He calmly but confidently directs the traffic so that everyone makes it through the intersection safely and efficiently. Everyone listens to his direction because he commands authority.
Now imagine a guy out there in a bathrobe frantically directing traffic to go through the intersection, yelling at the cars, flailing his arms about, and exacerbating the stress that everyone is feeling. You don't listen when he screams for you to proceed because you're afraid that you'll get hit. You're probably right, too, because many others are just speeding by to get through this as soon as possible.
So who would you obviously listen to?
That illustration comes to you secondhand from James Dobson's Strong Willed Child.
I don't know if I'm alone in this or not, but I feel like I fell into the parenting slump of the flailing guy in the bathrobe for a while.
Michael and I have had an ongoing disagreement on how to handle the increasingly frustrating temper tantrums of our precious 4 year old. Sweet little Levi loves control, and let me tell you, he had it. Out of sheer frustration, I've just been a flailing idiot.
Sometimes when I'm getting frustrated, I feel like there is no other choice but to lose my temper because I feel like it's not my choice - like something physiological takes over and I just boil over. It doesn't seem like a choice. I know intellectually that it is a choice, but it doesn't feel like one. Anyone else experience that?
My biggest prayer to God was to show us how to raise this child so that his personality can be used for God's glory. I know it can be, but I felt like I was losing my grip on him in the discipline arena. I was just at my wit's end; I had no clue what to do.
Well, Michael went on his yearly silent retreat this past weekend, and I would be single-mommin' it, so I knew that I'd have to get things organized if I was going to survive. The first thing I told myself was to not lose it! Whenever I get tired (as I've been lately), I have a tendency to get short-tempered but not this weekend. I told myself that I would be calm and consistent no matter what.
Well, I don't know what happened, but something flipped in me this weekend. I have seriously never felt such freedom and self-control. It was like I was on Xanex or something. It was fabulous.
I chose to not give my children control over my emotions. I was in control of me. If Levi was going to throw a fit, then I would calmly and consistently put him in time out or give him another disciplinary measure. I didn't freak out or worry that it wasn't working. I just followed through. I never even felt angry.
And it worked!
They started taking me seriously again. They knew that I meant business, and they actually started listening to me and respecting me.
Michael and I are on a unified front to keep it calm and consistent. No more flailing. I feel so much more peace and less stress in my life in just the past week that I've been doing this.
And, ya know, just looking at that picture of Levi it would seem that the kids are miserable, but they're not! They're happy and learning to be more peaceful, too. They feel more secure and enjoy us more. It's wonderful!
My new mantra is CALM AND CONSISTENT. Do you have one?