Rethinking Behavior Modification


It has hit me in a new way recently,  that of the four people in that photo right there,  I can only modify the behavior of exactly one of them. Me. I can shape,  nudge,  model,  correct and discipline those other three,  but ultimately it’s up to each of those human hearts how they will act and what words they will say.

I’m trying to be ever mindful of the following: When I start to feel like there is not enough gentleness in this house,  rather than trying to figure out how to make my kids lose a bad attitude… maybe I just need to spend that energy on myself. On the self-control and prayer and consistency that it takes to be gentle in the midst of harshness. When I worry my kids are being selfish,  with their time,  their energy, their stuff – maybe instead of discussions and lectures about self sacrifice, maybe they just need to see me get up off the couch and serve with a happy heart. Choose a game with them over Facebook. Read a book with them instead of watch TV. That’s so much harder for me than just having a conversation (let’s be honest, lecture) about behavior, but so much more effective.

To teach my children kindness,  I must use kind words. Not lectures about being kind. To teach them gentleness,  I must actually be gentle. Not nag them to stop being hard on each other. And some days that seems like an impossibility. With a day full of “that’s my spot”, “you took my glass “, “it’s my turn”……… I finally explode “ENOUGH! WE WILL NOT YELL AT EACH OTHER IN THIS HOUSE!”

Modeling behavior really is everything, isn’t it? I know,  intellectually I mean, that to speak harshly and loudly to my kids when they are being disrespectful to each other makes zero sense.To rant and rail at how horrified I am at the level of disrespect in our home does not bring down the tension level. Not even a teeny bit.And yet…. Sigh.

I’m grateful that my kids are quick to forgive,  and we can even laugh about those ironic outbursts later,  but I’m ready for them to happen a whole lot less.

Creating a peaceful, happy home.  It really does begin and end with a peaceful, happy mama.

image (1)
NYC Christmas Day 2014

3 responses to “Rethinking Behavior Modification”

  1. I have yelled that exact same phrase! Thank you for sharing truth here and for being transparent. I want to do so much better in this area. I take their behaviors personally when I need to remember that a lecture coming from that place isn’t well-received (most of the time).


  2. Thanks for sharing! I have been processing much of this myself lately… but you put my thoughts into words. My kids are now old enough to start calling me out! How can I expect them to pick up their mess if I don’t pick up mine… how can I expect them to get off their electronics if I don’t get off of mine…Teaching kindness and gentleness do start with us… the parents and our actions speak so much louder than our words.


  3. “Creating a peaceful, happy home. It really does begin and end with a peaceful, happy mama.”

    If Momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy!


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