Cynthia walks into the kitchen just as her son, Sammy, squirts dish soap all over the floor. Sammy looks up at his mother with a huge grin on his face.
"What's wrong with you?" Cynthia yells.
Sammy's smile turns to a frown. His lip quivers. He was going to clean the floor just like his mom. He was going to surprise her.
Cynthia grabs the bottle. "Go to your room," she orders.
Sammy bolts to his room as tears run down his cheeks. Fear of his mother's anger fills his heart. His happy, helpful feelings are dashed. Hurt and worthlessness enter his soul. He flings himself on his bed sobbing...
Parenting is frustrating
We wonder why our children behave the way they do. We often react in anger by saying things like "I can't believe you did that" or "What's wrong with you?" These statements don't help children improve. They cause children to feel worthless and unlovable.
So, what can you do?
Be your child's 'safe place'
Pause for a few seconds, and remember this thought, "My child needs to feel safe." Children are bombarded with shows, games and frightening images. They need somewhere to feel safe. As a parent, you can be your child's greatest source of calm and security. You need to be your child's safe place.
Adjust your expectations
Sometimes, expectations for our children are out of whack. They are, after all, children. They are going do things we don't understand. They are not perfect. They are human and they make mistakes - lots of them. Slow down, and examine your expectations.
Think before you speak
Before you speak, ask yourself, "If someone I care about said this to me, would it make me feel worthless?" If the answer is yes, don't say it. You do not need to say everything that comes to your mind. Filter hurtful words even when you are angry (something that's difficult to do).
Be calm around your child
Your child needs you to be calm. Freaking out at a child sends hurtful messages. Speak kind words. When you need to be firm, be firm, but avoid raising your voice or yelling.
Spend time together
Children enjoy spending time with their parents. For children, L-O-V-E is spelled T-I-M-E. This is quality time, not quantity. Even 30 minutes of just listening to your child or reading together goes a long way. Quality time helps your child feel understood and loved.
Curb the criticism
Children hear unkind words at school, from peers, and probably even from siblings. You must be the person in your child's life who does not criticize. If your child messes up, calmly help him fix his mistake. Give feedback, not negative criticism.
Kindness does not mean being a doormat parent who lets children do whatever they want, whenever they want. Children do not feel safe with parents who do not set limits. They need boundaries. Express those boundaries with a kind tone of voice.
Instead of tearing down your child's self-esteem with bad communication, help build his self-esteem with encouragement. For more on how to do this, read "four magic compliments to boost your child's self-esteem."
Be the kind of person you want your child to be
Most importantly, be the kind of person you want your child to be. If you want your child to be respectful, treat him and others with respect. If you want him to be honest, you must be honest.
Let's face it. Actions speak much louder than words. Your child will remember your actions much more than your words - probably a hundred times more.
Try reacting like this instead..
Cynthia walks into the kitchen just as Sammy squirts the dish soap all over the floor. He looks up at his mother with a pleased look on his face.
She pauses, looks at his beaming face and responds, "I see soap on the floor." She waits to see what Sammy is going to say.
"Yes mom, I am going to clean the floor. Just like you." he replies.
Cynthia sighs. Now she understands. She replies, "I need you to ask me if you want to clean the floor so I can show you how. Understand?"
"Yes mom. Can we clean it now?"
"Okay, let's quickly get it done together," Cynthia responds.
We all mess up - keep trying
Parenting is challenging. We all experience stress, fatigue and frustration. We will blow up at times, but we can keep trying. Improvement is the key!
This article was originally published on ldsparentstoolshop.com. It has been republished here, with permission.