As parents, we do all we can to train our children during the eighteen or so years they are under our roof. However, there are many times during those years of training that our children don’t live up to the standards that they’ve been taught.
I remember one incident in particular when I went to pick up my son from his 5-year-old class at church. My husband was the Associate Pastor, and we expected a certain level of obedience because of our role. When I asked the teacher how my son’s behavior was, I found out he had been leading the class in walking all over the desks. I was so embarrassed that I apologized and hurried off with my son.
That wasn’t the first or the last time I would be disappointed with something my children did while out in public. I had to learn how to navigate those situations in a positive, healthy way.
Here are some mindsets and actions that helped me through these situations.
- Appreciate his uniqueness. Even though you may feel your child is an extension of you, he is his own person. You are responsible to train him, but can’t always control what he does and doesn’t do. This is especially important to remember when he reaches the teenage years.
Take action. In whatever way necessary and appropriate, have your child clear up whatever he has done. If your child is very young, you may need to do this for him. Apologies are a part of making sure your child does his part in correcting the incident.
Reprimand your child in private. Make sure to discuss your child’s behavior with him once you return home. Being reprimanded in front of others can be extremely humiliating for your child. Use this as a teaching opportunity to explain what he should have done in that situation. Implement whatever discipline or consequences you deem appropriate.
Forgive and forget. Sometimes after an incident like the above, we tend to want to put our child “in the doghouse.” But once the situation is taken care of and restitution made, we need to forgive him and assure him of our love. One thing I continually told my children while they were growing up is that they couldn’t ever do anything that would cause me to quit loving them. It may have required discipline or consequences, but it would never change my love for them.
Forgive yourself. If you feel as though you have missed it somewhere with your child, make the adjustment and move on. Reminding yourself of the incident will do nothing but cause you grief and discouragement.
When you find yourself disappointed in your child, remember that you may also have caused the same feeling in your own parents while growing up. You depended on them to forgive you and to believe the best of you, so do the same with your own kids.
Question: What has been helpful for both your child and you in rebounding from your child's public misbehavior? Share your answer in the comments below.