I’ve come to realize in my relatively short but full and busy time as a mom that my choices have the greatest effect on my children’s choices. It is a natural law, this we “reap what we sow” thing, but I think it has great ramifications in parenting as well. Children respond to consistency and they respond to our direction. If we sow seeds of something (whether intentionally or not) then we’ll reap those same seeds. It is why – yet again – it’s so important that we are purposeful and mindful of what we do with the precious lives we’ve been given to watch.
Let’s think of how this plays out.
1. Taking shortcuts.
Someone once told me, or perhaps I read it… or maybe both… that when you know you are taking a shortcut it almost always backfires. I laughed it off and quickly realized – to my horror – how right it was. For example, if I ask my daughter to come here so I can put her shoes on she has two choices. To come to me or not. When I am particularly busy I always have the inclination to just forget about it and move on, putting the shoes on when she’s in the car.
Another option, the longer one, is to wait for her to obey and – if she doesn’t – respond immediately with whatever disciplinary action I prefer. Whether putting her in time out for a few minutes or going and getting her and bringing her to where I’m at and making it happen. If I do this often enough she starts to obey immediately. By issuing an instruction and then ignoring it I am doing what is quickest, but what will reinforce to my daughter that I’m not actually serious.
2. Our words and tone.
Pretty quickly after our angels start talking we realise that they are listening to us and they are apt to repeat it. Much to my horror my daughter sometimes says “oh my gosh, mommy.” When I first heard her say it, in the same inflection that I could imagine myself saying it (if I remembered saying it which I insist that I do not), I almost fell on the floor.
I’ve realized that the tone in which I speak, direct and correct carries weight in how my children act towards each other and to me. If I’m overly stern or demanding when I need not be or if I use harsh words, my daughter is apt to repeat them and then she tries to use the same tone with her baby brother. Our children are like little fields with good topsoil. If we sow seeds of harshness, we’ll grow rough plants.
3. Sleep props.
Everyone wants their babies to sleep well because we know how important it is for their health and our sanity. We often want them to sleep well so much that we pull out all kinds of tricks to make it happen. In the moment this seems helpful. Long term, this never works. We are sowing dependence on us for sleep and we are reaping children who can’t sleep on their own. If we train them to sleep in whatever method we are comfortable with then we’ll reap children who sleep well. It’s simple cause and effect. Doing one thing leads to another. Doing one thing a lot leads to children who expect that a lot.
4. Giving them what they want all the time.
When babies turn into toddlers they develop lots of wants. They want a snack every five seconds and may die if you don’t give them a cookie or buy them the ball they see on the way to the check-out counter. If we are nervous they’ll cause a scene in public – which they probably will as it is a rite of passage – then we may just rush to shove a fruit roll-up in their mouth or buy the bouncy ball.
If they want to hold the remote control and when threatened with its removal will scream their heads off, well, then perhaps we should just let them scream their heads off now and again. If we sow seeds of impatience and instant gratification into our children then we will reap little ones who can’t and won’t wait for what they want without causing an uproar that makes the neighbors relocate.
We could go on and on, but ultimately, our own choices, consistencies and inconsistencies will have a great impact on how our children behave. If we delay our own gratification and act with patience and foresight now then we’ll have less problems later. It’s like planting a full field and, after the rain, expecting harvest as opposed to planting a seed or two here and there and wondering why we can’t fill out storehouse with what manages to grow. It isn’t easy. It isn’t always fun. And sure isn’t the quickest way, but we will be so happy with our choices later when we are reaping the benefits!
Leave a Comment