When spring finally arrives in Kentukiana, after teasing us for weeks, the weather is perfect for so many reasons. My TOP reason, though, has to be that the kids can PLAY OUTSIDE!! Whooooo hooooo!! Mom-happy dance going on right now. 😀 However, along with the warmer temperature, we get a lot of rain and my 3 & 4 year love it! They love the puddles, they love the mud, they LOVE it all, but mommy doesn’t like it quite as much. I have to do a lot of extra laundry and give several extra baths too both. Not going to lie, it makes me way less excited about Spring.
So today I said, “No puddles. No mud pools. You may not play behind the garage (the prime location for both of these forms of entertainment).” After getting some tidying up around the house, I peeked out the window to make sure my children had obeyed. Guess what? They did!! I mean, sort of…at least for the most part. They were no where near the garage. Neither had been in any puddles or mud pools. Instead, my 3yd old son played in the sandbox…which is currently half full of water. My 4yr old daughter “planted” flowers in a pile of dirt at the end of my flowerbed. Both were completely covered in mud. U-G-H!!
As a Recovering ANGRY Mom, my first thought is to control my natural reaction – SCREAM! Don’t they understand that I don’t want to wash their clothes AGAIN and give them a bath AGAIN and deal with wet sneakers AGAIN? Uhmmm, actually, no, they don’t! What I have finally come to realize is that my kids were not disobeying me with the intent of making me angry, they were just being kids!
In moments like this, it is important to remember to discipline disobedience, not childishness.
Perhaps this is not news to you. And, realistically, it is not news to me either. I have always known this but in the heat of the moment, I was quick to forget it. I often found myself getting worked up into a fiery frenzy because whatever they did meant more work for me. It was really a selfish, inappropriate reaction. Sometimes, an incredibly understandable reaction, but selfish and inappropriate none the less.
I had formed a habit to explode.
Habits are regular tendencies that require very little thought. They are comfortable, even if they are bad. And bad habits are especially hard to give up. When I realized I had formed this bad habit, it was so embarrassing. It wasn’t just that I yelled at my kids for being childish. I noticed that I used an annoyed or nasty tone of voice anytime I was in public with them. I expected perfectly behaved, quiet, well mannered little robots. How absurd!
Knowledge is half the battle, right?
Maybe so, but the other half is change and that is way harder!
I had to start separating when my kids were being disobedient (failing or refusing to obey rules) requiring discipline vs. being childish (immature, unwise or foolish behavior) needing correction.
Of course, good discipline also includes correction. Otherwise, our children will never learn why what they did was wrong and why it is important to not do it again. However, discipline must include an appropriate, authoritative consequence. In our house, if a child refuses to eat their dinner (disobedience), they are sent to bed early and get again for breakfast the next morning (discipline with an appropriate, authoritative consequence).
Childishness often also includes consequences. However, these are mostly natural consequences resulting from poor choices. Playing in the wet sandbox after lunch (childishness) means you have to come in early from playing to get a bath before naptime (natural consequence).
It has taken months of conscious effort to break the habit, but now I am much more careful to discipline disobedience, not childishness. The kicker is that my kids don’t seem to care which they are getting – discipline or correction. Neither is really fun for them. Sometimes, correction even turns into a need for discipline because natural consequences bring about their disobedience. Go figure!
Do you share my bad habit? Check out my post 5 Ways to the Break the ANGRY Habit to find out how I started making the change!
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