We must love our children enough to do what is right for them. This includes our own ability to control ourselves, to display our own self-discipline, our own evenness in times of stress, our own self-equilibrium.
Working on your own emotional boundaries is so important. If you can say no to things and not feel guilty, if you can release the people and things from your life that are so unhealthy what a wonderful model you can be for your children.
An important part of being this model for your children also means to bring an order to your children. Rhythm is the best kind of discipline; it often shows us that we are trying to just cram way too much into our days. There is a time and a place for things, and there is an order in which we do things. We have lunch, and then we have a nap. We play, and then we clean up. We don’t pull out fifty toys in a big heap, but have an order to putting things back and putting things up. Rhythm strengthens the will of the child, and brings the chaos of life into order. What a valuable skill to model for young children!
Rhythm requires you, the adult, to stand with a certain amount of authority. What is right in your home, and what is not right? What can you allow and what can’t you allow? I find many parents I speak with are so hesitant to use their own authority….they say things to me like, the children are making an absolute mess by doing “X” in the house, but I don’t want to squash their play or creativity. I think if it makes you feel uncomfortable, then it probably shouldn’t be allowed! If you think it is not going to fly at a friend’s house, then probably it shouldn’t be allowed either! Our children need to be able to function in the world!
Stand firm. Children crave this! Stop couching your sentences with “okay, sweetie” and softening the whole thing. Less words, less explanation, more rhythm of what you do every day and how you do it will diffuse battles,and will allow you to experience the reverence, awe and wonder that is part of raising children.
We are all striving; we are not perfect. However, we should be doing what is right for our children out of our love for them. Children have a way of making us want to be better people than we were before; they have so many things to teach us and show us if we can help them along their path through love, rhythm and authority.