In this season of love, I encourage you to love your children extravagantly. By that, I don’t just mean being generous in giving gifts, words, time, acts, or cuddles as you are able. I mean love extravagantly with your commitment to disciplining them. What does love have to do with disciplining children? Everything!
Discipline originally meant “instruction given to a disciple”. Its modern meanings include “training to act in accordance with rules,” and “activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill.” In the parenting context, discipline often means punishment, but it doesn’t have to. The best discipline instructs a child to reflect on her behavior and decide for herself how to make an adjustment for more desirable result. It is teaching, not telling, prompting, not punishing, that leads a child to govern themselves.
Loving extravagantly while you discipline, teach, and empower your child makes you more successful as a parent. Here’s how:
1. Love Keeps You Calm
Thomas Jefferson said, “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” When my child is having a meltdown, it does not help for me to have a meltdown right beside her. Your child is looking for ways to manage her emotions. Having a trusted adult demonstrating calm, compassionate, unshakable love and empathy is reassuring and gives them a safe center to come back to after the emotions are worked out. You can teach most effectively when you both are calm.
2. Love Keeps You Focused On Your Intention
In the heat of the moment, you might react from fear of danger, fear of other people’s opinions, or fear of what your child’s future might be. Imagine your child is not coming when called, not eating their food, or hitting a sibling. You could react, but when your intention is to be a balanced, Present Parent, you can avoid the extremes of Authoritarian Parenting and Permissive Parenting. Love can remind you to be both kind and firm as you guide your child to a better outcome.
3. Love Attracts More Love
When you are committed to loving extravagantly, you cannot help but attract more love and cooperation into your life. Could you use a little more love and cooperation? All day long, parents give love, but when your little one won’t get into the car seat, you become frustrated and stop giving love. You love again, but when she keeps kicking your seat with her muddy feet, you get angry and stop giving love. You make it to the store, but she starts wailing for candy, and you stop giving love because you feel ashamed.
Recognize when you stop giving love and immediately decide that you will love extravagantly, even in the face of irritation, anger, embarrassment, even physical pain. This is the essence of what I mean by loving extravagantly. Love your child. Love your life. Love every minute of being a parent. You will attract a more loving and wonderful life, and you will attract more cooperation and self-discipline from your child.
Here’s how to create the habit of loving extravagantly. You choose to. It’s that simple, so I’ll say it again. You choose to. You decide to love extravagantly. You decide to give love and loving treatment, even in the face of ill treatment. If you are easily triggered, it is important that you perk up your senses and start listening to your conscience. It is always speaking to you, but it whispers, so you might not easily hear it. It always alerts you with a moment of consciousness, of love, right before you blow up. You get to choose to ignore it or let it guide you. So let it guide you toward love.
As Jane Nelsen says in Positive Discipline, “People do better when they feel better.” Would you like to do better? Would you like your children to do better? Then discipline/teach your children from loving intention. By engaging with consistent boundaries rooted in extravagant love, you take Authoritative Parenting to its next iteration.
How will you love extravagantly today? Please comment below and share the love by passing this along to others.