What does it mean to you to have a good attitude towards your children?  We tend to know what we want being a mother to look like but often fail in getting there, sometimes not having a clue how to remotely reach that goal.  Life around us seems to dictate our responses and suddenly we realize that we are not acting the way we want to.

How to be calm, gentle, and positive and stay that way? Here are 5 different parenting mindsets or perspectives that I believe kept me calm and gentle, and by doing so changed my children’s reactions, which put together changed the vibe in our home. 

How do I be a calm, gentle and positive mother – especially when my child is pushing all my buttons and I’m exhausted.  Well, there is no quick fix but by being committed to growing and changing you can bring about change – lasting change.  As a heart-focused parent we need to look at our own hearts not just our own behaviour (choices/actions).  What we believe will affect the things that we do as a parent.  I think that is why there is no quick fixes.  We can decide to do things differently but we’ll lose puff and revert to our old ways unless we change our beliefs.  

 

5 Parenting Perspectives that will Change your attitude 

and help you be calm, gentle and positive

 

-1- Your Attitude is Your Responsibility

As with most parenting issues, it starts with us – the parent and being calm, gentle, and positive starts with our own attitude.  What is your attitude like towards waking up in the morning?  What is it like towards your husband, your children, breakfast, and your chores?  This alone will set the tone for the rest of the day.  It is redeemable but things go so much better if we start off on the right foot.

 

Here are some thoughts that help me have a good attitude towards myself, my day and my kids:

  • Look after yourself.  Just as our little two-year old loses their self-control, has a very self-centered perspective on life, and gets plain grumpy when they are tired – so do we!  We need to look after ourselves – ensure that our physical bodies are well cared for.   This changes in different stages of life but we need to make sure we get to bed on time so we get optimum sleep, that we eat well, and refresh our souls and spirits at some stage throughout the day.
  • Greet everyone when they wake up with a cheerful “good morning”.  The tone of our voice will either drag them down or inspire them to start their day cheerful too.
  • Be prepared the night before – doing a little of our morning chores the night before gives such a lift for the day.  Be it pre-packed lunch boxes, clothes ready, or lesson plans made – your life will dictate what best to prepare the night before. 
  • Spend time in the Word, before your family wakes up if you can – though the important thing is to connect with God – there are no rules on when or how.

 Social

 

But — There have been many days that I have not started on the right foot. Eventually, I realise that the day is spiraling – there’s tension, dawdling, and grumpiness all around.  And I know we can’t keep on like this – something has got to change! So this is what I do:

  • I ensure everyone is doing something – safe – safe physically and safe relationally (that is, I am going to excuse myself for 5 minutes and I don’t want my kids to be grumpy towards each other and further damage relationships while I’m gone.)  I look for activities that require NO interaction.
  • I then excuse myself to my bedroom or bathroom.  I get my heart right.  I pray.  Sometimes I turn music on that ministers to my spirit.  I dry my tears and go back to my family!
  • I gather them around me and apologise for the bad atmosphere in our home today.  I tell them that mummy has a new heart for the day and we are going to start again.  We give hugs all around and go and do something fun.  We go for a walk, play a game, read a book.  Once we have reconnected we pick up our planned activities (rearranged of course to match the amount of time we have left in our day). 
  • Sometimes there is something external that has got me off track – usually things piling up around the house.  This is the cause – the grumpiness was just the symptom.  So sometimes, once we have reconnected we spend time fixing the problem.  Some of our best housecleaning days have been after this type of process – we get back on the same team and we can do anything!

It is so important that we become captain of our own heart – not only is that that right and responsible stance – it will become the example we want our children to see and follow.

 

-2- Your Children deserve Respect

This perspective changes how we engage with our kids.  We teach our children to love others, that other people are precious and we should treat others with kindness and respect, the golden rule etc.  And yet we, ourselves, don’t apply that very same principle towards our kids.  We need to see that our children are precious – they are an “other” in our life.  And all the “one another” verses apply as we relate to our kids. 

We are not to confuse this with giving them everything they want, letting them go first, or building our life around them – that would be child-centered parenting. As parents, we have the responsibility to train up our child, away from the foolishness of ignorance and teach them to be wise – to know what is right.  Our attitude towards them will change how we do that. 

Our children are little people and these people have been created and loved by God, they are precious and we need to respect them as such. I must choose to see them as God sees them – precious.  We need to speak to them graciously, kindly, and lovingly at all times, even if we are giving instructions or correcting them. 

Something I was personally challenged with was that I spoke to my children with respect and consideration when other people are around and yet when we are at home, there are times that they are treated like “children” – the respect of persons was gone. This is not right.  It damages our child’s heart because they don’t know a consistent standard but most of all it is a lack of integrity on my behalf.  My child is a person and I need to relate to them at all times with kindness, respect, and integrity.

 

 

-3- Training takes Time

Giving instructions can become a life-draining part of motherhood.  We say the same thing over and over again.  It is exhausting. Our hearts get discouraged and our tone, and our body language becomes snarky or negative.

The thing is – our task as a parent is to train our children.  That is the nature of parenting.

Training simply requires things to be done over and over and over.  We only have to look at the drills of a soldier, or the training of an athlete to get a visual of what training looks like.  

We are there to guide our children through the many tasks, choices and decisions they have to make. Much like a sports coach is there for the athlete.  You may think that it is a simple task of picking up their toys but you are training their heart to be responsible, you are training their eyes to see things that need to be done and you are giving them the skills of tidyness and organisation.  Our children need to be reminded and encouraged, time and time again just as the elite athletes do.  Eventually our kids will run the race, play the game, on their own, and win, just as the sportsmen do too!

 

-4- Good Instructions Touch the Heart

If we are to teach our children beliefs, values and life skills we need to be able to give good instructions.

We can give commands which sound a bit like a Commanding General and has no relational tone to it at all – the command is barked out and expected to be obeyed. Our children may well obey but we aren’t teaching them at a heart level and we soon learn that unless we bark they won’t do anything.  Not a nice place to be in your family.

 

The other way we can handle instructions is that we stop giving instructions altogether and start giving suggestions. This only feeds the child’s selfish desires to rule their own life their own way! 

 

Instead, We need to give clear, firm, realistic instructions and yet always considering our deepest desire is to reach and train their heart.

 

Some key points in giving instructions:

  • Know clearly what it is you want your child to do (and why)
  • Go to your child and make contact – eye contact, maybe even physical contact with a hand on their shoulder or hand
  • Tell your child what you want them to do, not what you don’t want them to do.  Be specific and direct.  Don’t ask, or suggest; if it is a direction it is a direction.  
  • Give them an understanding of why this is the right thing to do (a God reason, a moral reason or practical reason)
  • Don’t give an instruction unless you are able to follow through.  They may need more teaching, encouraging or help in some way.  If they don’t obey what will you do next?  If they do obey will you notice and give praise?

Giving good instructions isn’t about our children learning to obey – though they can and will obey – our bottom line, our ultimate purpose in teaching our children to follow instructions is that they learn to do life well, eventually on their own.  Obedience must lead to responsibility.  

 

-5- Parents need to be Available and Aware

Mothering is hard and it is easy to get frustrated over the things we face every day. ⁠ Our default is to control the child, or control the circumstances – but really we will be better parents when we control ourselves.⁠

Two character traits that I think are so central to responding well as a parent is availability and awareness. ⁠

Availability:  Being ready to be involved

Awareness: Knowing what is happening around us and how that is affecting people

These work together for us to be fully present and engaged both physically and emotionally with what is going on in our family. The more emotionally present we are, the more connection we build with our child. The quicker we see what’s going on in our family, the quicker we can deal with things.

⁠And yet it is a challenge that’s for sure. So much to do – so many distractions – so much tiredness. ⁠ But it is up to us. If we want to respond to our kids in ways that are consistent with our values – we need to control how we respond.⁠ We need to manage our responsibilities so that we can be available and aware of what our children need. 

 

Just in quick summary the 5 parenting perspectives that will help you be a calm, gentle and positive parent are:

  1. Your attitude is your responsibility
  2. Your children desserve respect
  3. Training takes time
  4. Good Instructions touches the Heart
  5. Parents need to be Available and Aware
Quote: Parenting is not about what my kids do, but about what I do next.

Heart focused Action:

Which one of these perpectives are out of whack in your parenting?  When it comes to looking at ourself as a mother, and reflecting on how we are doing there are three things I want you to remember:

  1. You are in charge of you, how you respond is up to you
  2. God is there to help you grow and change
  3. When you do the right thing, it impacts everyone else in the family

 

Parenting really is about the parent – what the parent believes, values and chooses.  

There was a LOT in this episode.  Maybe you need to listen to it again, take notes, and prayerfully consider which action point you need to focus on.  You can’t do it all at once and I believe that as you take your life to God, and ask Him about your parenting, He will highlight one thing you can prayerfully work on.  

GIVEAWAY: 

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Email me:  belindaletchford [at] outlook.com
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Further Reading:

Are you Tired? Are you Ready to Make Changes? Being tired is a consequence and if we want to live our life to the full we need to make changes – big or little.

5 Decisions to Help Mums Live in the Moment: To live in the moment is an issue of contentment; and it becomes a day-by-day choice I have to make.

Remember these 4 Training Stages to be an Effective Parent: These 4 training stages helps us to teach our children rather than just tell them. Without these 4 stages, we are likely to frustrate our children.

 

2 Comments

  1. Tracey

    Hello Belinda thank you for your insight – it is a blessing to read.

    May I ask what your perspective is on the following unease I have at the moment….

    My eldest is 17 and has no motivation, interests and seems lethargic for life – there is no interest for learning, he just plods along at the moment.
    I am feeling like leaving him alone for a period of a few weeks to figure things out for himself about what he wants to learn but on the other hand feel like this might be irresponsible or neglecting him….
    I dont like confrontation but feel this is all that is happening at the moment.

    He does enjoy being social but we homeschool so it is difficult.
    I have thought about putting books away for a bit and going on outings just to change things up a bit – really feeling uncertain about what could be best.

    Regards
    Tracey

    Reply
    • Belinda

      There is more than one reason why a teen will respond like this but I’ll mention two here.

      Transitioning to taking personal responsibility. I would talk to him and say that you’ve noticed this in him and wondering how you can help. See what he comes up with. Parenting certainly changes in this stage – and maybe he needs to be told that you will no longer be telling him, but rather giving him the opportunity to step up and take responsibility for his life – for his habits, and choices, and emotions/attitudes. See what happens with such a conversation.

      As for homeschooling. I think this would very likely come out in a conversation but you need to know that yes, you can certainly take a break, and change up how you are dealing with education even though he is close to finishing. Maybe you need to change tack altogether – especially if he knows what he wants to do next after school – there may well be a pathway he can start on right now and not finish normal school process. The key is for our kids to be preparing for their future and normal year 11/12 may not be working for him.

      Hope these thoughts are helpful. Feel free to email back and talk about something more specific.

      Reply

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