Have you ever picked up a parenting book, peered at the table of contents, then flipped to the consequences part first? I know I have! Why do we turn to those chapters first?
Because we’re all desperate for that parenting “quick fix”.
Later on in this series, we’ll cover “correction” and even “consequences”. But first, I wanted to talk about connection. Because the truth is, connection with our children is essential before any correction or consequences will be effective.
Like you, I’ve read
way way way too many parenting books over the years. Some of them have been inspiring and motivational and helped shape me into a better mother. But some of them left me discouraged and more frustrated at my children, because they teach a one size fits all fool-proof method to raising perfect children. And not one of my eight children is alike.
One book promises, “If you do xyz the first time your toddler throws a fit, he will never throw a fit again.” You look down at your toddler (who is throwing his third fit of the morning) and sigh.
Then there’s a book for the “only” way to get babies to sleep, and one for the “best” way to get your children to obey, and of course, there’s the “guaranteed method” for potty training. If you read long enough, you’ll find a promised result for just about anything you face as a parent!
Except we tend to forget one very important thing: We’re not raising robots (however desperate we are for that robotic response to our discipline we might be). Our children aren’t born with the parenting manuals memorized, and they don’t come with a money-back guarantee. 🙂
Our children are incredible individuals with their own delightful personalities and unique struggles. If we try to force them into a box created for another precious child, we not only stifle the creative nature of that particular child, but we frustrate them and us, sadly often to the point of parental anger.
Proverbs 22: 6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go.” I love this verse, because it doesn’t say, “Train up a child in the exact same way as every other child should go.” Nope. It’s individual. “In the way HE should go.”
What works for one child may be the exact opposite of what another child needs!
Isn’t it fascinating that straight from the womb we can observe individuality in our children? One baby loves to be swaddled while the next baby hates it. One baby is social from birth while the next has a shy nature. Their natural personality traits carry over through the years into their needs, strengths, struggles, learning styles, educational abilities, and response to discipline.
If we acknowledge that we’re not raising robots, how does this shake out in our day-to-day parenting? How does this generate connection? When we look at each child as an individual, we can create parenting strategies that work for that child. We can respond more gracefully to our little ones when we stop trying to get them to fit the mold of another child. Often this requires a little trial-and-error, but as we evaluate how each child responds to us, and adjust accordingly, we will find ourselves connecting deeper with that child!
If a parenting book, article, or strategy (no matter how great or highly recommended!) is causing you to be frustrated, angry, or harsh with your children because they aren’t becoming those one-size-fits-all mindless robots, consider putting it away for now. Fully embrace the blessings God has given YOU.
Cause we’re raising individuals, not robots.
- Get down on eye level with your child before speaking to them. Don’t shout at the back of little heads.
- Breathe deeply and speak softly, even when you’re overwhelmed and feel like raising your voice.
- Plan at least 5 “touch times” throughout the day–a 30 second snuggle, a gentle back rub, a kiss just because, or holding hands, etc. (Click here for more on the power of touch in our discipline!)
- Look past the behavior momentarily and seek out the underlying need. Connect with the child by meeting (or verbalizing) the need first–then addressing the behavior.
- Purpose to come out of every interaction with your child more connected than before. Even those negative situations (where the child is defiant or willful) can be made easier when our goal is connection.
Today’s Challenge: Connect with your children as individuals today. Drop your robot expectations and look for ways to appreciate their uniqueness.