One of the (very few) positive things I got from the Pearls' book To Train Up A Child, was the reminder that I should always be speaking to my children in a calm tone of voice. In that book, they write: "If you raise your voice when giving a command to your child, he will learn to associate your tone and sound level with your intention. If you have trained him to respond to a bellow, don't blame him if he ignores your first thirteen calm 'suggestions' while waiting for your fevered pitch to reach the point where he interprets it to be a real command."
Like I said in the negative portion of my review, there are other Christian parenting books who present the same information in a much more reasonable manner. While reading Lou Priolo's book The Heart of Anger, I came across this quote regarding scolding from Henry Clay Trumbull's book Hints on Child Training (first published in 1891) that I found much more powerful.
Scolding is always the expression of a bad spirit and of a loss of temper...the essence of the scolding is in the multiplication of hot words in expression of strong feelings that, while eminently natural, ought to be held in better control.
If a child has done wrong, a child needs talking to; but no parent ought to talk to a child while that parent is unable to talk in a natural tone of voice, and with carefully measured words. If the parent is tempted to speak rapidly, or to multiply words without stopping to weight them, or to show an excited state of feeling, the parent's first duty is to gain entire self-control. Until that control is secured, there is no use of the parent's trying to attempt any measure of child training. The loss of self control is for the time being an utter loss of power for the control of others.
Strong words, huh? I was convicted. Sometimes it's easy to justify scolding - the situation demands immediate attention, the kids need to know what they did was wrong or inappropriate or whatever. But the thought that I have lost all credibility in training my children when I lose self control...wow. That's big.
It take such incredible discipline. I'm so thankful that my women's small group is studying Proverbs this session. Do you know how many Scriptures in Proverbs revolve around using your words? Tons.
Proverbs 15:1 - A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 16:21 - The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.
Proverbs 16:24 - Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
This may be intuitive to some, but I am continually amazed at the truth of those Scriptures. Just this evening, Ethan pitched a fit when Noah destroyed his trains. He was understandably frustrated, but the crying and stamping of the feet and wailing was just overkill. I saw a moment to teach him the appropriate response. (And as background, I'm really sick and tired of the fit-pitching right now. Like, REEEAAALLLLLY sick and tired of it. Sick and tired to the point where I have found myself impatiently scolding him about his behavior) I called him over, put my arm around him and said, "I know you're upset that Noah wrecked your trains. You don't need to cry and scream. Next time, in a calm voice, say, 'Dad, Noah wrecked my trains. Can you help me?' and we will get Noah. Can you practice doing that?" Listening to my calm voice, he immediately settled and tried to practice the correct response. Had I freaked out on him, he would have gotten more agitated. He would not have had the seed planted about the correct way to respond.
I absolutely do not think to respond that way every time. But it's so motivating and encouraging when I do remember and see positive results. Why do I ever allow myself to lose self control and display a disgruntled facial expression or agitated tone of voice? It doesn't work!!! I'm so thankful that God provides learning opportunities for each and every one of us; if we decide to cooperate with the lesson, we grow. I want to grow. Bring on the lessons. Bring. It. On.
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