Raising four active, strong-willed, rambunctious boys has been and is one of the greatest joys and the biggest challenges of my life.
Over the years there have been plenty of mistakes I have made sometimes hurting the very hearts I love so much. I would make promises to myself to do better tomorrow, only to find myself laying in bed praying for God to forgive me for my bad attitude, negative words, and wasted moments.
My bad habits made me think I was a bad mother.
Have you ever thought that way too?
If so, it is a lie.
Yes, we have bad habits, but we have a good God who can lead us on how to love the little lives He anointed us to raise.
If we want to win over the hearts of our children, then we also must be aware of the bad habits that get in the way.
Bad habit #1: Interrupting instead of listening
Ugh! If you want to know what kind of listener you are for your child, pay attention to how your child listens to others. Often our children will mirror their conversation pattern to the pattern we have set for them in our homes. We tell them to listen, but we struggle with listening to them.
I know interrupting is easy, especially when our kids are on a two-hour conversation about a book, a sport, or a game you have heard them talk about over and over again. I know interrupting is easy when you already know what they are going to say but they are taking forever to say it. I know interrupting is easy when they start talking out of their frustration and hormones. As moms, interrupting becomes particularly easy when we are tired, frustrated, preoccupied, or even feel we are at a disadvantage in the conversation. Pay attention to your triggers momma!
As tempting as it is to want to interrupt—listen.
Actively listening to our children teaches two valuable lessons: demonstrates what they have to say matters and models how to actively listen to others. Being a good listener is an essential key to cultivating a healthy relationship with our children. When we listen, we are fully present and able to hear the heart of our children. We give our children the gift of a fully present mom.
Bad habit #2: Correcting publicly instead of privately
I cannot tell you how often my boys would act out in public. Whether it was temper tantrums in Target or challenging a decision in front of their friends, there were many moments where I wanted to correct their public misbehaviors in a public way. Raising boys taught me correcting them publicly often resulted in more misbehavior. When I chastised my sons’ misbehavior publicly, they usually responded in embarrassment and shame (neither of these responses was my goal).
Discipline is meant for redirection and teaching valuable lessons.
When my children acted out, I decided to check my heart. Was my discipline as a result of my frustration, irritation, or even embarrassment? Learning to practice the pause helped me to take the time to correct my children privately instead of publicly. We can respond at our best when we can separate the behavior from the child.
Bad Habit #3: Focused more on what you want to say instead of how you are saying it
Have you ever had one of those moments with your kid where you start fussing first thing in the morning, or maybe you decide to turn your chat into an hour-long lecture? We can be so focused on what we want to say and proving our point to our kids that we forget HOW we want to communicate. Our children end up disconnected and disengaged not hearing or remembering anything we say because of how we spoke to them.
Choose to speak powerfully, intentionally, and with purpose.
Sometimes we zone in trying to prove our point, teach the lesson or say the “right” words only to miss the moment with our kids completely. The emotional impact of our tone and body language will fill the gap of trying to say the “right” words. Our goal is to redirect and teach, not prove we are right.
Remember, every moment is an opportunity to build a healthy relationship with our children. Deciding to speak with compassion and understanding will have a more significant impact and is more likely to make your words heard by your children. Listen, momma, just because you don’t see the impact of your words doesn’t mean what you say and how you say it is not important. You are cultivating and cultivating takes time.
Raising children is a gift, but boy can we feel like we are messing it up sometimes. Don’t hold yourself hostage to the ways you have missed the moments. Go to God, surrender it all to Him. Allow Him to show you how to turn these bad habits around. Remember, our children don’t need us to be a “perfect” mom; instead they need us to show them how to lean on a “perfect” God. Embrace you are learning and growing!
Cheering you on,