Last week I wrote an article titled, 5 Responses That Hurt Our Children, and it was birthed out of recognizing my own harsh tones with my children.
It's one thing to have a bad moment or even a bad day, but when we make a habit out of answering our children out of a place of frustration, anger, or annoyance, it will take it's toll.
So, now that I've recognized I have this issue with my tone, I want to put a plan in place to help combat it. And I am totally talking to myself here so if you get anything out of this, bonus! I like to treat my blog as kind of my own little therapy session.
There is always one thing I think about that I know I need to do more. So we'll start with that one.
I don't not smile because I'm grumpy (usually). I am just in "work" and "busy" mode and honestly don't think about it. My natural disposition isn't to always be "happy" so to speak. It's just that I'm terribly focused and it can come off looking grumpy, or at the very least just unhappy. One thing I really want to work on is smiling at my child before responding to a request. Obviously, not all situations are appropriate for smiles. Such as disciplining. Afterall, I do want my children to understand I am serious about that discipline. But, even after a correction, ending the issue with a smile can do wonders for a child.
2. Deep Breath Before Speaking.
It is common for me to speak before even taking a breath, thus not allowing my thoughts to formulate a wise response. It may even be a good idea to wait a whole minute or two before addressing an issue that can already be tense. Though it won't be a quickly learned habit, training myself to "think before I speak" would certainly prove to be better than spitting out the first thing that comes to mind. Chances are I will eat my words and need to back pedal the issue.
3. Speak Calmly.
Even when I need to be firm with my child, I can still do that if I speak in a calm manner rather than raising my voice, or sounding annoyed. The goal here isn't to placate my child, but to honor my child and show respect. Training our children doesn't mean we disrespect them. They are still people. But respecting a child also doesn't mean pacifying or giving in, either.
4. Check My Pitch.
OK, this may seem a little nit-picky to some, but there is an obvious difference in my tone (literally) when I change the pitch of my voice. I have somewhat of a deep, raspy voice. In fact, I commonly get asked if I've got a cold or am coming down with a cold. "Nope, that's just me", I reply. My voice can naturally sound agitated. So, when I ask something of my child or children, I want to pay attention to the pitch of my voice. Rather than using a very low, demanding-sounding voice, I want to use more of an encouraging but firm pitch. Just raise it up an octave to put a more positive spin on it.
5. Repeat Steps 1-4
I realize some of this may seem trite, but I don't really think it is. But I cannot work my mouth without purging the ugliness in my heart, too. How do I view my children? Do I see them as blessings or burdens?
I think this is a very important question to ask ourselves and it's vital to be brutally honest with ourselves.
My verse for 2015 is,
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10
So, how can we get from wanting to change to actually changing? It begins with what we feed our own hearts and minds. Are we believing lies about ourselves or our children that is coming out in negative (and costly) ways? We simply need to slow down and be mindful of our thoughts and words. They are powerful.
Recommended Resource: A Gentle Answer: a 21-day practical devotional