When I see my three year old pull my five year old’s hair for the thousandth time, while I’m trying to do something that I think is really important, it can be hard to not lose my cool. Men, children, and patience, are not words that get said together very often. I’m a fairly patient person, and I deal with teenagers all day, but sometimes when I come home, that patience can feel all used up. I have to stop and ask myself, how am I reacting in the heat of the moment, and what effect is that going to have on my kids?

I want to speak to my kids in a way that shows love, but that can be hard sometimes, especially when you’re disciplining them. Here are a few things I try and remember.

Louder Isn’t Always Better

Unless someone is about to see what fire feels like, or whether or not they can power a broken radio with a coat hangar and an electrical socket (yes, that was me), then you probably don’t need to yell at your kids. When you don’t feel like anyone is listening, it’s only natural to get loud and get heard, but does anyone want their kids remembering them as a yeller? A traumatic discipline session is a moment that can burn into a young mind. Get down to their level, eye to eye, and they’ll be able to hear you. You can let them know you mean business while keeping your cool.

Build Your Kids Up

If your child has done something really egregious, our first instinct might be to remind them of what a terrible thing they’ve done, or drop a flippant “Are you really that dumb?” We should call our kids out when they do something wrong, but we should be calling them on it so that we can instruct them on right living. If you’re using insults or harsh words to do that, they’ll never remember the lesson, but only the mean things dad said. And no, sarcasm is not a tool of a successful disciplinarian. Sarcasm is unkindness with a bow on it, tricking you into thinking you’re clever, when you’re really a jerk.

Tell Your Kids You Love Them

It’s not enough to show our love, but we need to say the words too. Start when they’re young, and then never stop saying “I Love You.” What a powerful reminder for a kid to hear those words every day and know that they are loved. After every timeout in our house, after they’ve been told what they did wrong, there is always an “I Love You” at the end. Despite the wrong thing you did, I will always love you. That is unwavering.

The way we speak to our kids on a daily basis will affect the person they grow up to be, and the relationship that we have with them long after they leave the house. And in the meantime, while they’re still living with us, talk to them in a way that makes them feel loved, safe, and cared for.

What have you found useful in making sure that you speak to your children in a way that shows love, while still allowing you to parent successfully?

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Nathan Charlton
A husband and father of three, he is first and foremost a Christian, but will openly admit he doesn't have everything figured out. His passions include writing, spending time with his family, and any game by Blizzard.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I struggle with this; just yesterday in fact, with my 14yr old. I let my own internal struggles amplify my struggles with him, and my words were pretty sharp. I felt sick after. I struggle with allowing my frustration with my kids behavior to bring me down to their level of debate. Nothing good comes of that. Need to find strength and self-control.

    • I imagine the teenage years can be difficult. I haven’t had to deal with them yet. I’ve had a couple glimpses of what it might look like, but I’m hoping to build a good foundation so they go well. Good intentions, right? 🙂

      At work, and dealing with those teenagers…I’ve gotten really good at not taking anything personal. Comments that used to wrinkle my feathers, now they roll of my back. But those aren’t my flesh and blood kids, so that makes it easier.

      Good luck, and keep fighting the good fight. I feel a post about how to say “I’m Sorry” when we say or do things we regret.

      • Yeah, it’s a different realm when it’s your own flesh and blood blatantly disrespecting you. You can’t let them get away with everything, but you can’t break them. You want them to succeed, which means direction and correction, but you don’t want to scar their spirit and their will in the process.

        • Maybe we have to hold on to that hope of the relationship that is to come…when they’re done being teenage monsters, and they start liking mom and dad again. And make sure we don’t burn bridges so badly that those relationships can’t mend.

  2. So true Nathan. They are adults much longer than they are teenagers. If we can manage to look at the big picture now and build a foundation that will survive the rebellion, then we can get past the struggles of all the egos and focus on making them kids that can embrace the joys of childhood while becoming adults equipped to deal life’s everyday challenges. <

    • I heard a talk one time, and something stuck in my head. If all you do is yell and control when they’re young, then they’re going to hold that against you when they realize you aren’t all powerful. When that rebellion phase starts, they’ll have something to rebel against! So for now, I’m trying to parent with love, and give them as little reason to rebel as possible. That doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want, and some parents fall into that trap. They want so badly for the kids to feel loved that they make a lot of poor decisions. Post on that for sure.

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