Self-Control is for Kids and Parents Too!

By Joey and Carla Link
September 22, 2021

Many years ago this week, Joey & I became parents. We still remember it as the day parenting became a part of our lives forever. No looking back. No “What if’s?” As empty nesters, while we may no longer be actively parenting, we are still parents. We still get Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards. And the best of all? Grandparenting is the reward of hanging in there with your kids.

Both Joey and I have tempers, and when we look back on our parenting years, we both wish we had shown more patience with our kids. I am sure that if you had asked our kids during some seasons of their life at home if they thought we loved them unconditionally, “without limits and without conditions,” they might have said, “Only when we obeyed and did what we were supposed to do.”  The thought of that breaks my heart because while it wasn’t true, if we were giving the perception it was true, even without thought on our part, our kids suffered for it.

 There are times in the heat of the moment while trying to get your chronic slowpoke out the door or your happy-go-lucky child to follow through on an instruction or your oldest to quit being so bossy you say things without first thinking about them. Things like “You’re driving me crazy!” or “Why can’t you do anything the way you are supposed to?!” or “How many times have I told you to be ready on time? Do I have to dress you and spoon-feed you and physically carry you out the door to get you to school on time?” What do you think these phrases are going to accomplish in the heart of your child? Do you think they are going to motivate him/her to better behavior? Probably not.

 Your tone and words do matter. I (Carla) would get angry with my kids. I had to teach myself to stop, think of a way to word what I wanted to say with words that didn’t put my child down, and to calm down before I opened my mouth. I would put my hand over my mouth to keep the angry words inside until I could do this. Once when I had gone to my bedroom to get calm, I heard my youngest say to the oldest (the troublemaker that particular day) who was trying to find me, “Mom is in her room trying to find her happy attitude.” Indeed I was.

So what can you do? 1. Teach your kids how they behave is a choice. Making a wrong choice resulting in bad behavior does not mean they are bad kids. It means they need to learn why it is a bad choice and how to make a better one the next time around.

2. Have the child in question sit in an isolated place with no freedom to get up or talk until you come back to him. While he/she is sitting, go calm yourself down. When you are ready to talk to him, go find this child and ask him what he did that was wrong. 

3. After he/she tells you, ask him what he should do about it (over 6 yrs.) He should tell you he needs to apologize. I know we have gone over this before, but it always bears repeating.                  ·He should tell you why the behavior was wrong, ask you to forgive him and tell you how he is going to make it right. ·Apologizing this way is THE way you will get to your child’s heart instead of just his behavior.·Young kids might not know how to make it right. We told our kids it was “to give back when you took away.” Ask them what they took away with their bad behavior or words and take it from there.·When your kids just say “Sorry”, all they are sorry for is that they got caught.·Without an admission of what was done that was wrong, why it was wrong and how they are going to make it right, you are only dealing with symptoms of the behavior, not the roots, or what was causing it in the first place.

4. After your child apologizes, he/she needs a consequence to motivate him to right behavior the next time around. ·The consequence should fit the crime. ·Take away what your child was misusing and don’t tell him for how long.·Ask him what you need to see in him/her for him to get that freedom back. He knows. Then watch and see how serious he is about getting it back. 

The way to get your tone and words under control other than you learning self-control yourself is to get your child to learn to use self-control. It almost always comes back to that, doesn’t it?

“Be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”Titus 1:8 (ESV)