What really matters?

Posted by Samantha on October 4, 2011 in Consequences, Discipline, Letting Go, Mistakes, Punishment |

 Ask yourself this question: “Will this matter a year from now?”

Richard Carlson, American psychotherapist and author (1961 – 2006)

Would it matter if they got wet or muddy? Took off their boots? Fell in?

This is such great, simple advice.  How can we make it work for us in our daily lives as parents?

So often, in the heat of the moment, when we’re dealing with children, everything can seem to matter.

But in fact most things don’t.

I’ve noticed that children’s programming and books are full of the most level-headed parents and teachers in the world.

Those fictitious adults are always so magnanimous, calmly mopping up spills, or saying it’s ok, I know it was an accident.  They don’t raise their voices.  They never attack a child’s character.  They’re not more attached to their possessions than their children.  They don’t behave in ways they later regret.

Of course it’s easy to see how a spill doesn’t really matter.  How an accident wasn’t designed to hurt.  That’s the small stuff.  But what about the big stuff?

If your child scratches your car, will it matter a year from now?

If they lose their new and expensive trainers, will it matter in a year’s time?

If they’re late for school this morning, does that matter in a year?

What about breaking a window?  Not tidying their room?  Not doing what you ask?  Wearing their hair different than you’d like?  Wearing anything different than you’d like?

On an individual basis, all of these things might seem to matter.

But if we lose our heads when our children do things that matter, or rely on punishment to try to keep them in line, then our relationship with our children will suffer.

This is why it’s really important that we know how to limit our children in a fair and loving way when they do something that matters.

And the rest of the time, if the answer to the question “will this matter a year from now?” is no, we can practice letting the small stuff go.

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