Dr. Jane Nelsen of positivedescipline.com writes in this article (click on the title for the link) about a soft approach to an out of control child. This particular approach may not work every time, or even more than once. But you and your child will never forget it.
A child is in the middle of a screaming tantrum. Father gets down and shouts, "I need a hug!" Child: "What?!?" Father: "I need a hug!" Child:"Now?!?" Father "Yes!" Child shrugs, "Okay" and hugs his father. The tension melts away, and father says, "Thanks, I needed that." Child says, "So did I." They can then deal with whatever started the tantrum after that, or not. Perhaps that is all that was needed.
The father above has taught his son several things in this moment. Here are just some that I thought of that his son learned:
1. His father loves him no matter what.
2. He, the son, can contribute to helping others, and that helping others also helps himself.
3. When people are upset, try pulling them closer instead of pushing them away. He now knows how that feels.
4. True love heals the hurt caused by anger.
The father above also learned several things in that moment:
1. He learned that he loves his son no matter what.
2. His son has a good heart, even when he's angry. He respects him for it.
3. Pull others close when they are angry, instead of pushing them away.
4. Holding his little boy close and feeling true love heals the hurt caused by anger.
Reading the above article I thought of the first time something like this happened with my daughter. I like remembering these things, because it's the only way I can make sure I don't ever forget!
My daughter was screaming, thrashing, shouting obscenities, and I was at a loss. The overwhelming feeling came over me; 'She is doing this because she doesn't feel loved.' I got down on the floor and shouted over her screams, "Do you think I don't love you?!" She quieted down and stared at me. I said more softly, "Are you really angry because you don't think I love you very much?" She started to cry real tears, pain and deep-felt hurt pouring out of her. I hugged her tightly, and through my own tears I cried to her, "I love you more than anything! You are my baby girl, and you always will be. You changed my life. You are my angel!" We sat on the floor and cried, and I felt her pain. I felt my own pain. I promised myself that things would be different from then on.
I don't know if my daughter remembers that day, but I know I will never forget. It was one of the first turning points for us--when I started realizing that love conquers all, not pain and shame. I pray I will never forget. I pray that I will remember how I felt before and after that moment. I pray that I will remember her face, and the pain that came pouring out of her, so much hurt, all caused by my negative discipline. Maybe I didn't beat my kids (except for spanking,) I didn't hit them with anything, no bruises (besides on their backsides,) but I controlled them (or tried to control them) using fear, intimidation, shame, and apathy. I didn't look ahead, I just tried to get through the moment, hoping that somehow, some way, things would get better. All my discipline was centered on immediate control, not long-term goals. It hurt. It hurt them- it hurt me- it hurt my spouse. It was wrong. It felt wrong. I just didn't know what else to do. Now I do know what else to do. I have given myself permission to use Christ's teachings in my home to teach discipline to my children, and myself. Self-discipline is contagious. The children learn it by watching. They also learn the opposite by watching. Am I ready to be the grown-up and make a choice? Am I ready to learn, for the sake of my family, how to be a true Christian?
The root of the word "discipline" is "disciple". I ought to BE Christ. I am the body of Christ, as are all his disciples, so how would Christ treat my children? If he were in my place, would he spank them? Would he shame them? Would he try to break their will? I can only know the answers as I learn more about Him. Simply remembering Him and how He feels, helps me see things differently. I want to be patient, I want to be kind, I want to show mercy and love. This is the reason for this blog--to make sure I keep remembering.