Discipline, The Ever-Present Challenge

I've posted about discipline before. I've probably even sounded like I know what I'm doing at times.

I don't.

The trouble is that kids keep growing and changing. And requiring more of us. At this point, despite all I wrote about prevention...it seems a three-year-old demands a bit more in the proactive boundary setting department.

Ignoring mommy when she is yelling, "STOP Peter!" is not OK. You might get hurt.

And saying no to mommy is not OK. You might get hurt.

OK. I admit it. I've had trouble with patience lately. Having my son purposefully push my buttons is something I haven't quite learned to deal with yet. My son is teaching me important lessons about self-control and holding my tongue {and hand}. 

As Katrina says in her book Mitten Strings for God, "Just as our sons have brought forth in us the very best we have to offer, they have brought us face-to-face with parts of ourselves we would have preferred not to meet at all." 

Yesterday was especially difficult. I woke up feeling unable to cope with the demands of the day. Isn't it strange how children read our emotional tank level and seem to act worse when they know we just can't take it? My ability to creatively deal with misbehavior was at its lowest and his behavior was thus at its worst. My sour, rough reactions only threw him into crazier, disrespectful behavior.

"[Child's name] has reminded me that discipline is a two-way street and that before I can take my raging child firmly in hand, I must first lay claim to my own composure and inner strength...I have learned that when I "lose" it -- and I know it does happen to all of us at times -- it is usually because I have not taken the time to slow down and pay attention to whatever is going on inside me. When I do stay connected to my own feelings -- when I am fully present and conscious of what's going on beneath the surface -- then I find myself possessed of all the patience, humor, intuition, love and strength that effective discipline requires." --Mitten Strings

I needed some of that inner strength.

So. I've been considering the situation. Ideally, we would avoid these days where mom wakes up exhausted and not feeling capable. But these days will come. What our children need to see is whether we can "learn to ride out life's ups and downs without losing our own bearings."

Discipline? Yes, creatively. Effectively. But even more powerful is our example. Our children are often overwhelmed by and at the mercy of their own emotions. What they need to see from us is a "living example of the kind of strength and clarity that will ultimately show [...] the way to make constructive use of [these] energies."

My child needs to see me take care of myself when the pressure builds.

My child needs exposure to the art of self-control.

"It is not what I do as a mother, but who I am as a human being that will make a deep and lasting impression on my children. When I discipline my children, I must also be disciplined myself."

Oh....it is so hard to put everything into words. Parenting is just so hard sometimes!! We want desperately for our children to be socially acceptable. To live within safe boundaries. To be kind and thoughtful. We take this job very seriously!!

Maybe a bit too seriously at times.

There will be tears and regret and emotional scars and life lessons learned. Life is tough. It really is. I wish with all my heart that it wasn't.

Florida Scott-Maxwell rightly said, "Love at any age takes everything you've got." Sure does. Sometimes leaves a mother feeling completely empty.