Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Snapshots of the Heart ~ Self-Discipline

Last week I shared about the growing desire of my kids to be the bosses of this house ... and the plan I have in place to cure them of their bossy pants-itis.

Today is about my own problem with bossing.

Last week during my Bible study, I experienced a bit of an epiphany.  And it didn't even hurt.  The topic was concerning our tendency to be control freaks.  As a recovering C.F., I thought that I had this all under control (ba dump bump!), only to discover that I didn't.

I too have the propensity to pull on my bossy pants in the morning and go about my day making sure everybody (mainly my kids) are playing by my rules.  This could also be called "nagging" but that is such an unfortunate word.  Let's call it "gentle guiding".  Or "repetitive reminding".  Or, we could just call it as it truly is ... "bossing".

When Aaron doesn't get off the iPod within 2.4 seconds of my request for him to do so, I ask again.  And then again until he finally switches of.  Bossy.

When Norah fails to get all her clothes in the laundry at the end of the day, I point it out to her.  And sometimes without using my magic words.  Bossy.

When Ashley gets caught up in talking to Baby S and doesn't put her coloring books and markers away, I reminder her.  And then remind her again a bit more gruffly.  Bossy.

When Lydia is slow in getting her shoes and coat on, I say, "Chop, chop, hop to it!" and give her my grumpiest look.  Bossy.

There is a fine line between training and bossing and I think these past several weeks I've been tip-toeing across to the dark side.  Rather than nagging, uh, that is, repetitively reminding my kids to do what is asked of them, it would be more effective for me to say it once and then allow natural consequences to follow.

Let's see how that would be played out in the above scenarios:

Instead of bossing Aaron regarding his need to get off the iPod, I could ask him to shut it down and then begin keeping track of the amount of time that he continues to care for his Tap Zoo creatures.  This time would be subtracted from the next time he asks for screen time.  "Sure ... you can do some Wii.  I would say you have 45 minutes, but since you stayed on the iPod for an extra 15 minutes this morning, you can play for 30 minutes."  Let the groaning begin.  And the learning.

Instead of bossing Norah to pick up her clothes, I could ask her once and then whatever is left out after she heads to bed would go in the Bummer Bin to be earned back with chores later on.  "Where's your purple leotard?  Hmmm ... have you checked the Bummer Bin?  I think it was laying on the bathroom floor last night.  Sorry."  Let the moaning begin.  And the learning.

Instead of bossing Ashley when she forgets to clean up the kitchen table, I could remind her once and then when I'm setting the table, all the markers, stickers and books can be deposited in the Bummer Bin.  "Oh ... your coloring book?  I think it's in the Bummer Bin.  You can spot clean the floor for me if you'd like to have it back."  Let the grumbling begin.  And, you got it, the learning.

Instead of bossing Lydia to get her shoes and coat on, I can inform her that we are leaving and then head to the van.  I might add something like, "When you get your parts together and get buckled up, I'd love to give you a little treat."  When she fails to be quick and snappy, she will be terribly disappointed that she didn't get her little goodie.  "Sorry, Sweetie.  I hope you can do better next time."  Let the wailing begin.  And the, yes indeed, the learning.

Lots of lessons learned for the kids and me.  They are learning to be the bosses of themselves and the importance of responsibility.  I'm learning to let go of my kids and allow them to accept responsibility for themselves ... and spending my energy on enjoying my kids instead of bossing them.

Is this easy?  No. Way.  This requires huge amounts of self-discipline from me.  Keeping my mouth shut and allowing my kids to learn from experience.  Keeping my attitude positive and not turning a teachable moment into a I-told-you-so moment.  Keeping my eyes focused on the goal ... growing up responsible and respectful kids.

It's a doozy, for sure!

"Father, I pray that my children {and I} 
may acquire a disciplined and prudent life, 
doing what is right and just and fair."  
Proverbs 1:3


  1. Just think what you could do with all that extra time you have NOT nagging. Now there's some inspiration to 'let go' : )

  2. I agree... it takes an extra dose of effort. I fall into the same trap with my kids. Then I wonder why everyone is being grumpy with each other... Self-discipline and the good example begins with me! Love you!

  3. I am SO going to steal the bummer bin idea...LOVE IT!! See your blog is making us all better moms! Yes, I do too much gentle reminding as well. So glad to know Jill and I are not alone. :)


Thanks for visiting! Your comments are warm fuzzies! (And con-crit is always welcome, too.)