Our anger masks the discipline we try to teach

Recently I’ve been thinking of how wrong I go when I lose my temper while trying to discipline Luísa. This looks so obvious written down like this. I`m obviously missing the point if I start raising my voice. Isn’t it true that our anger masks the discipline we try to teach?

Yesterday we were at a friend’s house. Luísa spread a big box of toys on the floor and though I told her to pick them up before we left, she was just playing deaf. So, as other people were waiting for us, I started to lose my patience, and there’s when I went wrong. I started to demand that she put the toys away in an angry tone that had absolutely no effect on the action desired.

In fact, it was inspiring Luísa to do the opposite. In a matter of seconds, I was mad at her and then I had to put the toys away myself not to make the people wait while I tried to show my daughter a lesson. It’s clear that I missed the point there like I must have many other times as well.

At least, when situations like this happen, I get to think of what I’m doing and what I can do to change this. In this particular example, it’s clear to me that I can’t discipline her while I make other people wait. Not that the other people will mind waiting another 5 or 10 minutes, but because I can´t bear to make people wait, I get irritated and miss the point easily.

When I can keep a good mood in the situation, I can make people wait, otherwise, it’s just better to let go of the lesson and keep going. Making the lesson go wrong like that must be worse than simply putting away the toys quickly and not drawing attention to the fact that I’m being disobeyed.

I guess that´s one point when parent’s go wrong, it’s this thin line between the lesson to be taught and the disobedience which are two different things. It’s easy to get pissed off by the disobedience and stress on that, rather than correctly act on what you want the kid to learn.

Well, screw obedience! Of course I want my daughter to obey me, but that’s not the point most of the time. And yet I act like it is the point. Does the same happen to you? It’s quite unusual for parents to realize this, though. Parents love to think they are teaching the best lessons all the time. But the truth is that we often fail in the adult bad habit of wanting the power rather than establishing the right and wrong of the situation.

So this is what I think we should do: at the first sign of tyranny on our part, stop! Think about the lesson we want the kid to learn and think of the best way to achieve it. Drop the lesson if the conditions are not propitious, leave it for later. This thinking it over might take a minute or so. Do it. Take the time to figure it out. Make the lesson slow if you need, but make sure you are acting the right way.

As I try to apply my advice, I see that many times I simply drop the lesson. And you know what? It’s much nicer! It´s not that I’m not teaching Luísa anything, it´s more like I’m teaching her when it feels right and convenient, not just because as her mother I have to teach teach teach.

To teach anything, one must be ready. And that means being prepared intellectually and emotionally. It’s not easy, but with time conditioning ourselves on this path, we can only get better. And this will reflect back making the lesson be learned more effectively.