By Rebecca Eanes
In 2014, I started a yell-free year challenge. It was a private group for parents who wanted to stop the cycle of yelling, and within weeks, thousands had joined. Thousands of parents were needing with self-discipline. I was all too familiar with that need.
When I first transitioned from traditional parenting methods to positive parenting, I saw a quick and remarkable improvement in my children’s behavior. Power struggles dissipated as our relationships improved. However, about a year later, I found that they were behaving badly. An honest evaluation led me to an uncomfortable truth. My children were undisciplined because I was. They were simply following the example I was setting.
Even though I’d continued to do the “positive parenting motions” such as using time-ins and problem-solving in lieu of punishments, the truth was that my own behavior was off track. I had been trying to manage a difficult bout with anxiety along with sleep deprivation and other stressors. My inner turmoil came out in my sharp tongue and quick temper. My toxic attitude was polluting the atmosphere, affecting my children and their behavior.
I quickly learned that I could not effectively discipline my children if I couldn’t discipline myself first. They were watching my example, and what they saw in me had more impact than the positive discipline strategies I employed. Therefore, I had to do the inner work necessary to set a better example, and once I did that, their behavior improved as well.
How to Discipline Yourself Before You Discipline Your Child
Here are three keys to gaining self-control.
Key One: Command your thoughts. If you’re thinking negative, toxic thoughts throughout the day, they will spill out of your mouth when you are squeezed. Think positive, loving, gentle, thoughts and that is what will fill you up.
Key Two: Own your emotions and actions. Realize that your kids don’t “make you” get angry and lose control. Your feelings are your own to master. Children do not need the burden of keeping us calm and content.
Key Three: Prioritize your physical, mental, and emotional health. Eliminate stressors where you can. Exercise. Sleep. Play. These are not luxuries but necessities for good health. The better you feel, but more self-control you will have.
Rebecca Eanes is the founder of www.positive-parents.org, creator of the popular Facebook page Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond, contributing editor to Creative Child and Baby Maternity Magazines, and author of The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parenting. In her new book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, Rebecca shares her hard-won insights on giving up the conventional parenting paradigm to reconnect heart to heart with her children.