I was going over the edge. This was the thousandth time I was yelling at my kids, and it wasn’t lunchtime yet. I was tired of this parenting. I was losing my mind and ready to have some peace and quiet, if not actually enjoy my children.
Someone I respect taught me a new way. He said to notice how a cop behaves when he or she pulls you over. He quietly walk up to you and says “Good morning.” (Hopefully he hasn’t shot you by this point.) Meanwhile you are ready to pee your pants. He doesn’t freak out. He briefly explains what you did and what’s going to to happen as a consequence. He rarely repeats himself; rarely screams “Answer me!” or other such absurdities, like I do. He asks if you have any questions, wishes you a good day, and calmly walks away.
I loved that!
Now, when I ‘approach the scene’ I actually adjust my imaginary belt, straighten my imaginary hat, and casually but very intentionally walk up to the subject with a very sober look on my face. I calmly, firmly, point out the problem and express what needs to happen. I explain the consequences, ask if there are any questions, and walk away.
The biggest challenge is staying sharp enough to keep meaningful consequences in my imaginary front shirt-pocket. Those can include privileges like electronics, outings, or play-dates. I must remember I can use the above as positive or negative reinforcement. It’s hard to make changes. I’m a long way from mastering this, but I am far from the ineffective raving lunatic I would turn into. They have also learned I mean business in enforcement.
We can do this, parents. 10-40!