I talked about discipline in my previous blog and want to share a story today that I hope will bring you some encouragement as you trial and error in the art of discipline. As parents, we tend to grind ourselves for our mistakes and regret immediately follows. I have the best intensions at heart to always do the right thing, but I too fail miserably, at times wishing I could just turn back the clock and get a do-over.
This happened a few months ago while we were getting ready for school. Janno and Mia were at each other’s throats the moment we sat down for breakfast. Sibling rivalry was at an all-time high, so having a peaceful meal was out of the question. After a gruelling breakfast, Janno took his time brushing his teeth and getting dressed. He lingered aimlessly in his room and I was getting frustrated with him. Mia wasn’t feeling well and I was trying to get her dressed and groomed with limited hysteria.
By the time we had to leave the house, I was downright exhausted. As we drove out the gate, already 10 minutes late, Janno announced that he forgot his schoolbag in the kitchen. That was the last straw! I exploded with built-up frustration and the poor kids were on the receiving end of a major scolding. As I finished my tantrum, Janno just looked at me and said, “Mom, all that yelling is not fruit of the spirit. You are not being patient at all.” He caught me off guard with his remark, but he was right. I felt embarrassed that my seven-year-old had to put me in my place. All I could do was offer a heartfelt apology and ask for his forgiveness; he gave it without giving it a second thought.
The point I’m getting at is that our children need to see us make mistakes as well as how to go about correcting those mistakes. We do not live in a perfect world with perfect people. We all make mistakes and our children need to learn how to deal with their own imperfections in the right way. Therefore, set a good example. Mia was in the car when I had my meltdown that fateful, chaotic morning. She witnessed how I made my mistake, she witnessed how I was reprimanded by Janno and she witnessed my subsequent reaction. That moment was an intervention of pure grace. I could easily have had another fit at Janno’s reaction but I didn’t and Mia has adopted the example she witnessed. She is a challenging, strong-willed toddler and she gets into all sorts of trouble, but she will own up to her mistakes and she will always say sorry.
Janno was very grateful that I was willing to admit my flawed ways to him. I am teaching him the principles of respect, honesty and forgiveness. For Mia, at 29 months of age, those are difficult concepts to comprehend with words alone, but Mia gets it because she witnessed it.
MommaMia Tip: Do-overs are rare but not impossible. Regret is poison, but asking for forgiveness is the antidote. A heartfelt, sincere apology from you as a parent to your child, even to your toddler, can go a long way. Be the example you want to see in your child’s behaviour. It might feel silly – do it anyway – I dare you!