If you don’t feel like reading you can watch me sit in my bedroom and talk to you. Just scroll to the bottom of the post and enjoy the video. The written content below is almost identical to what’s in the video, so you won’t miss a thing either way.
Maybe this sounds familiar to you… your kids have been frustrating, to say the least. They’ve been fighting all day and they’ve been disrespectful. Generally speaking, they’re acting like well trained terrorists.
You’ve corrected them 100 times, you’re pushed to the limit, and two words crack inside of you like thunder and lightning and you yell,
Maybe you don’t always say it, but you definitely feel it. (You know what I’m talking about, parents… don’t act so holy.)
Your blood pressure rises and you decide, “I’m putting an end to this! I might put an end to their lives, but I’m fixing this situation one way or another!”
From there, we proceed to pour out our wrath. Maybe our dog gets in the way, maybe our spouse becomes collateral damage in this war, but we’ve GOT TO SETTLE THIS!
It might be funny now, (or maybe not… maybe your crying while just reading this!) but it’s never funny when it happens.
What’s My Motivation?
Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with us taking the “THAT’S IT!” approach to discipline.
1-We’re Being Selfish
When we respond with “THAT’S IT,” whether internally or externally, it’s not because we’re trying to give healthy discipline, it’s because WE are too frustrated to tolerate any more.
“THAT’S IT!” says, “You’re annoying to ME. You pushed ME too far.”
Our motive isn’t the development of our kids, our motive is our own anger. We’re not actually disciplining… we’re retaliating. We’re just getting some good ole’ fashioned revenge. We’ve lost control of ourselves at this point, which is funny, because that’s probably what we’re busy yelling at our kids about.
“YOU ARE OUT OF CONTROL! YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN!”
I imagine that as they stare wide-eyed at our tantrum, that they’re thinking, “Does the adult know that it’s a giant hypocrite? I want to tell the adult… but I fear for my life…”
2-We Let Things Go Too Far
“THAT’S IT!” is usually an indicator that we’ve ignored what should have already been addressed. The issue has probably been escalating and we’ve waited too long to step in.
I do this a lot with my two older boys (ages 5 & 8.) I’ll hear their conflict heating up, but I’ll keep to myself. Sometimes I’m working. Sometimes I’m reading. Sometimes I’m lazy. Sometimes I’m exhausted (I think you can definitely relate to that one.) The craziest thing I do is hold on to the hope that they’re going to resolve their issue.
I imagine them treating each other with respect and the love of Christ. I imagine them hugging. I see them sharing the toy, forgiving the offense, then praying God’s blessings on one another.
Guess how many times that’s happened.
You guessed right.
The Solution to “THAT’S IT!”
Most parents feel like failures on a regular basis and I don’t want to add one ounce of guilt, so what can we really do to make a positive change?
We need to start with our chief aim in disciplining our kids. Our goal should be the development of our children’s character. We’ve already corrected them 100 times, but they DO need us to correct them that 101st time. They do need us to close the laptop, put the phone down, take dinner off the stove, wake up from our nap (you’re probably wondering what a “nap” is), and stop what we’re doing so we can focus on what’s best for them.
Once our motive for discipline is the development of our children’s character, we can make this one other transition that will carry us the rest of the way.
Rather than using “THAT’S IT!” as a trigger for your kids to duck and cover in terror, use it as a trigger that causes you to stop yourself, and move forward with self control.
Maybe your child’s standing right in front of you and they’ve just said something disrespectful that causes the fury of “THAT’S IT!” to rise up in you. Don’t out-yell them.
Call a time out.
Make them stand there and wait for you to come back in two minutes.
Or make them get in bed (my personal favorite).
While they’re waiting, you go get help from where your help comes from. He never grows weak or weary and He’s eager to pour His strength to the weak (that’s us) and the humble (that’s… um… us?).
Then come back to your child, get on their level, and give them appropriate discipline.
Even when we’re punishing them, we want to flip the serious switch (I’m all about being serious and not tolerating unwanted behavior) without seriously flipping out.
Our best tool is calm correction.
Even when spanking.
You don’t need to be waving a belt above your head like a lasso while your enemies (aka, children) scatter before you.
Calm correction keeps you focused on what’s best for your children, instead of focusing on what you may be feeling.
Who’s the Boss?
If we don’t train our kids, they’ll train us. They’ll push and push until the last possible moment. They’ll get away with as much as they can, just like we did as kids. And why did we do that? Because strong character hadn’t been developed yet.
We want our kids to mature into people that we enjoy the majority of the time, and not just when they’re asleep. We’ve got to train their character with consistency to make that happen.
This is easy to talk about, but hard to do. We’re exhausted. We’re completely fried because we’ve got a lot going on, or we’ve had a long day at work, or a long day at home with the kids, or maybe it’s 7AM and we’re just off to a bad start.
Even though we’ll fail at it over and over, let’s always aim for the ideal of wisely training our children to be godly people no matter how many times they mess up. Let’s not discipline them because we’ve “had enough,” but because we love them like God loves us.
I’ve given Him lots of opportunities to say “THAT’S IT!” He could have pressed the “Reset” button a long time ago on this universe, but He didn’t. Instead, He shows us unending love through the cross of Christ.
By the grace of God, let’s use “THAT’S IT!” as our personal signal to approach our kids with wise, loving, godly discipline.
What’s your best advice for handling your kids when you’ve run out of patience?