1) Is he ready to hear me?
More often than not, I’ll start talking to my son about his behavior and it’s apparent he is just not going to listen. I prefer to get down to his level, hold his hands and look him straight in the eyes. When he’s ready to listen he will reciprocate my behavior. However, when he’s not, he lets me know. Sometimes it’s subtle; his eyes start darting all over the room, he starts wiggling around or laughing to distract me. Other times it’s a lot more blatant. One time he even covered his ears and started singing the theme song to Elmo’s World. In those moments, I know that trying to have a conversation with him is pointless; so I send him back to time out, let him calm down, and try again.
2) Would I talk to my daughter this way?
My parenting goal is to raise a “good man”, and a lot of times I let that objective cloud my judgment. I find myself talking a little more stern to my son than I would my daughter. I try to catch myself when I do that and switch to a gentler tone.
3) Is this how I want his wife to talk to him?
It’s no secret that there are fights in marriages. I not only want my son to fight fair, I want him to expect his wife to fight with respect also. I don’t want my son to think women have a pass to speak to him anyway they’d like. When I discipline my son, I make sure I’m not talking down to him or making him feel like his feelings aren’t important. I also try to avoid that, “boys will boys” attitude. One day he will likely be a father and husband and in order for him to be successful in those roles he needs to accept responsibility for his actions.
4) Should I stop if he starts crying?
My son doesn’t cry often when being disciplined, so when he does, I know I’ve said something hurtful or that he feels ashamed. I often will stop talking about the situation he is being disciplined for and start addressing the reason why he’s crying. Sometimes I hurt his feelings and need to apologize or clarify. Other times he is having an “a-ha moment” for himself; one where he realizes what he did wrong and is truly remorseful. I try to teach my son to understand his emotions and be empathetic when he sees others displaying their emotions.
5) Should I start crying?
Call it sexist. Call it manipulative. But nothing gets my son’s attention faster than some good old-fashion mama tears. I don’t like crying in front of my kids and would never use it to make them feel guilty, but sometimes if my son says or does something that truly affects me, I won’t choke back tears like I usually would. Letting him see how badly his words or actions hurt me can help him to understand the severity of the situation.
6) Am I coming from a place of love?
My parenting motto is, “Choose Love.” At all times I want to show my kids I love them, and that includes when I discipline them. Too many times I find myself coming from a place of anger or frustration and I have to stop myself before I say something I’ll regret. Calming down and coming from a place of love and concern usually requires me to think about why I’m upset and not let anger determine my actions.