Here's a bullet-point version of my series. It is 2015, after all.
- Be compassionate. It's hard to be a kid. It's hard to be the mom. You both deserve patience. While being compassionate is the right thing to do, it will also make your job easier. (More details in the sixth paragraph of this post.) (Use of the phrase "sixth paragraph" is a dead giveaway that I am not really a 2015 kind of blogger.)
- Pay attention. Put down the phone, the book, the knitting, the worries, and perceive. You and your child will both feel the difference. (More details in the seventh paragraph (oops) of this post, but you can also CTRL-F for "Stella hates" if that's easier.)
- Emphasize autonomy over compliance, flexibility over rigidity. Create a context in which your child makes as many of his own decisions as he can. Push back against a culture that says he's too young for that. Self-direction is essential for self-discipline. And if you model flexibility, you will see it in return. Eventually. I promise it's true.
- Build good habits. You can set up routines that will make almost everything easier, for them and you both. If you have a problem, habit formation is probably part of the solution. Establishing the routine will take longer than you think. It will be worth it. (More thoughts here.)
- Set high standards; enforce them kindly. See my ZETZER post for details.
- Own your authority. You don't have to bellow. You don't have to threaten. You're the mom. Your authority is the lever that can move the world, or at least your apparently immobile child as he lies in the floor wailing. (Some details in the sixth paragraph of this post, or CTRL-F for "motherly authority"; more specific details in this post.)
- Take the long view. You have 18 years with this child in your house, God willing. It wouldn't take that long if they could learn things the first time you showed them. Keep at it. Don't let the naysayers get you down. In 80 years, when your child remembers your kindness tenderly, the naysayers won't matter. They don't really matter today. It will get better; truly it will. And if it doesn't get better fast enough for your liking, you can rest assured that it will get different. (This is the point that kicked off the whole series, so it's a fitting place to end.)
Resources for you: Barbara Coloroso wrote the book that revolutionized my parenting; Haim Ginott is really helpful; try Alfie Kohn too. Lissa Wiley wrote a beautiful post about her own journey. I'd love to hear what's been helpful for you in learning to parent your children with gentle authority.