One Thing to Teach Your Kids That Will Help You Be a More Gentle Parent
“Mommy, look at my picture!” “Mom, do you know where my book is?” “Mommy, can you braid my hair?”
Mom, Mom, Mommy, Mom, Mommy, Mom!
It was a caucaphony of sound, and my head was spinning as I tried to process all of the words that were being thrown my direction.
Thankfully, my husband was nearby to save me because I couldn't even think quickly enough to remind them not to interrupt one another.
He stated simply and calmly, “Hold it kids. You're all being rude to one another and rude to your mom.” Then he turned to me. “Why don't we demonstrate for them so they can get a better understanding of what they're doing and why they need to stop.”
So we both started talking at once to one of the children, each trying to talk over the other. Her eyes got wider and wider as she experienced what it was like to try to process all the noise and commotion.
She understood very quickly, as did the rest of the children, exactly how I felt when they were all talking at once to me.
“I can't even hear what you're saying!” she wailed.
“Yes. Now you understand how your mother feels when all of you are trying to talk to her at once,” he gently told her. “No wonder she feels like screaming ‘STOP IT!' when you're all talking at once. Do you see why you need to wait when someone else is speaking? You all have been thinking only of yourselves instead of putting others first. It's rude to interrupt, both to the person you are interrupting and the person to whom you are both speaking.”
We could have allowed the kids to continue talking all at once until I finally got to the place where I did yell, “STOP IT!”
And I could have become extremely frustrated when they continued to behave this way day after day, driving me to many more yelling moments.
But now that they understand the “why” behind the no interrupting rule, they will remember it a whole lot better. And I won't have to deal with the temptation to holler at them when they forget.
Or we fail to teach them ahead of time and our teaching is done gruffly and out of frustration.
The above scenario could have played out much differently had my husband not been around. It could very well have been a “teaching moment” of “BE QUIET! Don't you know it's rude to talk all at once and interrupt each other!!!”
And then they wouldn't have actually learned anything other than, “I guess we'd better be quiet now because mom's mad.”
And mommy would go feel guilty because I just tried to teach my kids not to be rude by yelling at them. Mmmhmmm.
But now that they've been taught why they shouldn't interrupt, the next time they forget, I don't have to say anything other than, “Wait a second. Remember how it felt when mommy and daddy were interrupting each other and talking all at the same time?” And that's probably all I'll need to say before they correct themselves.
I'm now empowered to deal with interrupting in a much more gentle way, all because daddy took a few minutes of teaching time to help them understand why interrupting is rude.
Explaining “why” isn't going to be the right answer in every situation, especially with very young children who won't understand anyway.
But once our children get a little older, explaining why they should and shouldn't do certain things can actually be a big asset to your efforts to be a more gentle parent.
(Not to mention, it will help your children learn to do right because it's right and not because they are little robots, mindlessly doing the will of their parents. What will they do when you're not around to “program” them if that's the case?)
If you're looking for a good resource to guide in teaching your children the “why” behind what they do, I recommend this little study called “Because I Said So“. It's a Biblically based study for kids that will help them to see from Scripture why they should obey.
If you want to be a more gentle parent, don't be afraid to teach your children “why”.
This post is part of the Parenting With Gentleness Series.