There she is. The mom who has two kids out of control running and jumping all over the bleachers at a high school track meet. Sitting with her group of adults, she engages in conversation while keeping one eye on the kids. Over and over again in a soft tone voice she tells her kids to sit down, stop pushing each other and walk not run. She never yells and the kids just ignore her. In the meantime, I’m a nervous wreck watching the three-year-old and possibly five-year-old jumping and running like kangaroos on cement bleachers.
As an older mother, I have this ability to analyze a situation that could lead to a potential trip to the emergency room for one of my children. Sure enough the little girl goes tumbling, head first, over a bleacher row right on the side of me. I catch her before she hits her head. The mom doesn’t notice since she is now totally immersed in an actual adult conversation. I get it. You spend so much time with young children that you crave to talk to adults. I came to the track meet with my latte hoping to experience some peace and quite. All mothers know how precious our adult time and alone time can be.
From that experience, I realized a few things about my parenting style. At first, I admired the other mom for keeping her cool and just using a calm soothing voice every time she asked her children to stop jumping. I started feeling guilty because I yell at my kids. Then it dawned on me, the children weren’t listening and the mother just let them keep running around with no consequence. The only thing happening were empty threats – which just led to additional misbehaving.
The Bible offers many warnings, not threats. The story that comes to mind is Moses, and his brother Aaron, warning the Pharaoh of Egypt to let God’s people go (the Israelites held captive as slaves).
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.’” –Exodus 9:1-4
With my kids, I yell. Yes, I am that mother you can hear across the park. Basically, I give one warning in a normal voice. If that warning is ignored, I yell a final warning before a consequence happens for not listening. It is not a threat, it is a warning. I stay consistent with this technique and my children understand, even at three-years-old, that I mean busy. If I yell out ONE, TWO, THREE…they know whatever they are doing better stop on the count of three. Most of the time the consequence is removal from the playground, a toy taken away, or no video game/TV time. Time-outs have never worked with my children at home. I tend to divert the situation with some one-on-one time if possible – sometimes it’s helping me clean the house, going for a walk, pulling weeds, baking cookies or making dinner. We do the task together talking about life. It actually brings us closer together.
Being a parent can be very frustration, especially if you have a day when it seems all you do is tell the kids “no.” Like when that stubborn child just keeps asking over and over again for the cookie right before dinner. That’s when I need to check myself because sometimes I lose my patience and yell out, “Jesus Christ, I said no!” That is not good yelling, in fact I’m breaking a commandment and showing my child it’s okay to take the Lord’s name in vain. This is definitely something I must do away with!
I’m not going to stop yelling, it works for me, instead I will yell in a nicer way. I will pray for more patience and to have the conscience mind to stop myself from blurting out obscenities or anything degrading while yelling. I’m not perfect, but at least I can be a better yell-er.
Here’s a link for a children’s version of Moses and the Pharaoh: http://www.dltk-bible.com/exodus/moses_and_pharaoh-cv.htm