- tell me why he got a timeout
- apologize for whatever he did
- give hugs in forgiveness
- and sometimes, I ask him to say something to reiterate the message, like “No more hitting.” Or, “Next time, I will obey.” Or, “No more yelling.”
At this point, I don’t do a lot of lengthy explanations for why things are wrong. I try to keep it concise. “Hitting hurts mommy.” “Disobeying hurts daddy’s heart.” “Mommy said not to…” Haha – sometimes that’s all the explanation they get!
It’s quite tempting to discipline in anger. When something spills or breaks that I have told Samuel not to play with, the fact that I – with a 2-year old’s help – have to clean up the mess, gets under my skin. Everything in me wants to yell at him: I told you not to play with that because it would spill/break/whatever!
And of course, there have been times where my sin nature took over, and I lost control to this desire. Do you know what Samuel does? My rough and tumble little man takes one look at me and busts out in tears. Not just Wah I’m in trouble!, it’s this completely helpless cry that he only has at those moments. It says Mommy is scaring me!
When I’m in a good place – relying on the Lord to give me patience that I just can’t muster up – I channel those feelings to something else. I actually get quieter and maybe more calm. I say even less than usual. Like “Timeout for hitting.” And in he goes to timeout. While he’s in timeout, I’m in timeout too. I’m evaluating my emotions and calming down from any anger that I had. Sometimes I have to go to my room, sit down, and pray for strength for a minute before I come back.
And then there are other times where I need to give Samuel warnings or directions – hoping that a timeout doesn’t result in the end. These should be neutral times, right? I might be saying, “Don’t throw that ball.” Or, “I want you to turn around and come in the house.”
But for some reason, my angry mommy voice wants to come out. I realized a while ago that I was talking to him expecting him to fail. I was being stern with him before he could make a bad choice.
So I tried to change it up. Instead of saying, “Don’t you dare throw that ball!” Or “Get back here RIGHT NOW,” I use my nice mommy voice. The one that I use when I say, “Do you want a snack?” I change my words to make the instruction clear but not threatening. I ask with “please,” just like I teach him to do. “Please don’t throw that ball.” “Samuel, I need you to please come in the house with me.”
When I started doing this, he would just pause and look at me, maybe waiting for Mean Mommy to come out. So I smiled. And all of a sudden, he was more compliant. It’s as if he saw, Hey, this isn’t a big deal. It will be a good thing if I listen to mommy.
I was floored by how much smiling to my son changed his behavior – pre-emptively!
Now I know that he will go through phases where a smile doesn’t do anything, and I will have to keep relying on the Lord in those times. But a smile!? That’s it!? If that’s all it takes – I can do that!
I’ve been trying it more with everyone. And you know what? It makes me a lot more calm and peaceful, too.