I read a lot of leadership books as I continue to find inspiration for my business and career. There is a common theme and reminder to look within that I am reminded of often. I have also taken a few strengths finder and communication style assessments over the last year. While I’ve learned a lot about myself and the type of worker and communicator I am, I have also found a lot of perspective on how I communicate with and discipline my kids.
In life and business, it’s so important to know your audience. Certainly, in my household, no two kids are alike. How I motivate them and discipline them has to be individualized. The boundaries, reminders, and rewards have to be very different for the three little humans that live in my household. I’m no psychologist or social worker, but I do happen to have a pretty nice library of business/leadership audiobooks that have gifted me with a new approach to parenting.
Kid Number One
She’s calm and quiet and introspective, and she matches up pretty well with the stereotypical first child role. When she has a hard day and needs correcting, which is rare, a slight rise in tone or look of disappointment is all she needs to feel remorse and redirect. When I escalate my tone and enforce authority with her, she usually reacts quickly and changes course. She sometimes takes her own time out for gathering herself and then her escalator ride is over.
Kids Two and Three
They ride that escalator, baby. Higher and higher and higher. My initial response in disciplining them as they have gotten older (now seven and five) and have both learned to argue and “fight back” was to raise my tone and give verbal correction. But lately, I have realized that what I call the “Chihuahua response” is what I receive back. It drives me bonkers! It’s that last word in, constant answering, raising voices, get your two cents in a continuum that makes my head want to explode. I can’t stand it. We both get angrier and the escalator goes up-up-up.
Kids Two and Three just get louder and more determined to prove his or her point. Then no one is listening and no logic can be applied. I am one very mad mama and the punishments are getting rolled out. At the end of it all, I am the one left with the uneasiness and, while I pride myself on being strict with my kids and holding them to high expectations, I hate that post-discipline feeling. I hate getting to that level of frustration and anger. I hate feeling like I have to take something away or yell to get anywhere.
Take a Breath
So I just learned to stop. I try really hard to NOT ride the escalator with them. I lower my voice to barely above a whisper and say things like, “I don’t know why you’re talking to me that way” or “I think you know the rules on that so I’m not sure why you aren’t following them.” I try to breathe deeply and keep my cool. And like any good fight, it takes two to tango, so things usually calm some. After repeating myself in my low tone several times, if the child’s escalator has not at least slowed down, I usually request that he or she takes some time to themselves for five minutes. This isn’t a suggestion. I make him/her leave the room that I am in to go to their bedrooms or another area. And then after the outburst, we talk. As they sit alone, there is no one left to fight with, and the escalator usually slows down. When it stops, I’m ready to talk.
At this point, we go through the discussion about what happened, who did something wrong, who’s “fault” it is, etc. But we do so in a normal tone and without all the anxiety that parenting can sometimes provide. If punishments or redirection needs to take place, that happens too. But at the end of it, I’m worn out and mad at myself for how it all took place.
It’s not rocket science, and it’s not advice from an expert. I’m just a mom managing a million things and trying to raise nice, respectful, honorable little humans in my house. And I no longer want to ride the escalator if I can help it.
What do escalator rides look like in your house?
About the Author
Rachel Harris Ledet is a strategic marketing consultant and content writer. She founded 30|90 Marketing in 2018 and collaborates with small businesses and entrepreneurs on growth development, strategic planning, and digital marketing. Rachel is a wife, a mother to three: two daughters and a stepson, and a fur-mom. She loves photography, teaching dance lessons, and enjoying life on the Mandeville lakefront. Rachel believes in the power of “the village” and loves her family and friends who help make the world go ‘round.