Tag Archives: post-adoption

Discipline Without Exasperation

Are you often exasperated when it comes to disciplining your child?

Or have you noticed your child seems exasperated?

Either way, discipline should have a purpose. And not to exasperate anyone! In fact, exasperation hinders positive outcomes.

Let’s back up a bit and see what it means to be exasperated.

Definition: Exasperate:
“to make someone very annoyed, usually when they can do nothing to solve a problem” [from Cambridge Dictionary, dictionary.cambridge.org]

There’s been a lot of debate on how to discipline and how not to, as well as a lot of comment on what the Bible teaches. I know there are tons of strategies and such. And I’m not going to debate or strategize here.

Underneath it all, the purpose of discipline should be to arrive at a positive outcome. And whatever strategy or method used, keep in mind that positive outcomes are hindered by exasperation on either part.

The purpose of discipline should be to arrive at a positive outcome.

In Ephesians we are taught:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Personally, I get three points from the verses above:

(1) Obeying their parents is good for kids; when (2) parents’ instructions align with God’s Word; and (3) parents avoid causing them exasperation.

So what about the exasperation of the parents?! What I know is that when I’m exasperated, it’s harder to avoid exasperating my kids in the moment.

I’ve learned a few tips that help me avoid becoming exasperated and passing that on to my kids.

Tip #1

Assess for Repetition.

Take some time to think through what’s typically going on when you feel exasperated (or both you and your kids are exasperated). Notice any recurring themes or patterns?

Tip #2

Assess for Limitations.

One sure-fire way to exasperate your children is to make demands and expectations that they do something they are incapable of. Becoming aware of their limitations helps parents and other adults have more realistic expectations, too!

It’s easy to assume children and youth are capable of adult reasoning and understanding, as well as other skills that they may have not yet developed, especially if lagging skills and abilities aren’t obvious.

I like using the form from Dr. Ross Greene – the ALSUP, or Assessment of Lagging Skills & Unsolved Problems. Even if you don’t totally go by his method this is a great resource! (Check out Dr. Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving method, the ALSUP form as well as a usage guide at https://www.livesinthebalance.org/

Tip #3

Assess for a positive purpose.

Taking time to assess my purpose can help me avoid become reactionary, impatient, selfish, etc. When I am clear on my disciplinary purpose and that it is in keeping with a positive outcome for my child, then I am less likely to exasperate them or become exasperated, myself.

I hope these tips are valuable to you and help you avoid exasperation in your family. If you have other tips that have been useful to you, please share in the comments.

Thanks for visiting with me here at Yesterday’s Orphan.


Hey there,

I’m Dawn and I enjoy helping parents and advocating for orphans!

I founded Yesterday’s Orphan, an outreach to support parents and caregivers, especially moms, of adopted and foster children and also step-children.

If you liked this post and it is helpful to you you might like to join the small but growing Yesterday’s Orphan Facebook group for parents and caregivers. The group is free to join but closed — members only.

Please comment and let me know if you found value in this post and feel free to share.

Pillow Presents

This is a photo of a pillow in my home office comfy chair. The Curious George pillow, lumpy and bumpy as it may be, is special to me. It was made (by my daughter) from a shirt that my youngest son had worn a lot. I didn’t want to get rid of it when he finally outgrew it. We felt like it was very fitting for him as he seemed so much like the famous little lmonkey character!

On this Mother’s Day Sunday I wanted to share an idea with those of you who have younger children (or even some older kids). They may require “help” in getting a present ready for next Mother’s Day (birthday or Christmas).

You can plan ahead over the course of the next few months or so and notice when your child outgrows a special shirt! You might suggest to him/her that you would like it and ask if they mind if you make it into a pillow and see their reaction.

Your child might be old enough and motivated to get in on the pillow project or even make it themself. If not, you could make it and let them give you the finished product.

For the how-tos just do a Google or Pinterest search for instructions.

Basically just trim the body into a square/rectangle shape (circles are trickier and would definitely require a pillow form) leaving enough fabric to form the sides and seams. Sew your seams inside out leaving enough open space to stuff with pillow stuffing or insert a pillow form to fit. Then turn right side out, stuff and stitch closed. And there you have it! Your keepsake pillow gift.

What do you think? Is this the type of keepsake that appeals to you? Do you think it might be meaningful to your child/children?

I do not tend to be very sentimental about things. There are just a handful. That’s probably a good thing with certain rabble rousing children. The idea of cherishing items from my children’s growing up years may not mean much to them right now. But hopefully in time it will be additional evidence that I love and cherish them.

Mother’s Day can be hard. It was hard today. But I was not surprised. I maintained my calm. Mostly. Lowering the pressure on ourselves and on the rest of the family to make Mother’s Day or any other holiday a picture perfect event can help.

My youngest daughter (whom I have had some extreme relational struggles with) had volunteered to make peach ice cream for Mother’s Day. I strategically waited until yesterday evening to take her to get the ingredients when it would be just me and her and not a regular grocery shopping trip. But the local grocery stores did not have fresh peaches yet and the produce stands were closed for the day. Yikes! But calm prevailed. I got up early and drove about 30 minutes away to “Peach Park” where I knew they would have fresh peaches. It was very much worth it in more ways than one! (Yum!)

Your child might be old enough and motivated to get in on the pillow project or even make it themself. If not, you could make it and let them give you the finished product. Helping them to participate in a way that says “we’re family” can dislodge another brick in the walls of resistance to relationship that may have been built as a result of trauma. There were some small (but huge!) Connections made today that could have been easily overshadowed if we had tried to pull off a larger event (that would likely have been an epic fail).

How about you? Do you have any helpful strategies for lowering the stress levels for holidays and events? Post them in the comments.

Ally on Their Side

Friends.  Allies.  We all need them.

For my kiddos from an orphanage background, the drive for peer friendships and allies is possibly even stronger in them as well as more difficult for them.  The elements of trust and empathy (ability to understand another person’s perspective) have been missing to a large degree for some of them.  Add in additional delays in social skills and the need for allies, either within the family or outside can come to have a lot of anxiety attached because of the deep fear of rejection that has been imprinted on them from a young age.  As they reach adolescence it gets even more complex.

The need for an ally is so strong at times that (1) they may repel an alliance by going overboard (with hugs for instance); (2) they may self-sabotage from fear of getting too close or getting rejected; (3) they may be willing to “do anything” for this relationship, leading to endangering themselves and/or others.

Helping them navigate the need for friendship and find an ally (or preferably a few) may take more work.  Throw in mistrust of parents or adults in general and it can be even trickier.  What many children learn through trial and error may need to be shown more overtly.  At the same time, they may need help to them un-learn harmful patterns of thinking and behavior.  Establish clear boundaries early on as a given, not as a punishment or judgment on their new friend.  (Example:  “We don’t entertain non-family friends in the bedrooms.” It has nothing to do with this friend or what their family allows.  It has nothing to do with right or wrong.)  Save the rationale for another time.  It will be easier for them to learn from an objective stance than when embroiled in the struggle to hang out with their friend behind closed doors in this example.

Show rather than tell.  Showing our kids through our own relationships the basics as well as the more complex aspects of having a deep friendship, an ally is the way they may learn best.  This will take intentionally pointing out the basics, such as what we are thinking and why we do this and that in a way that seems less teach-y and more casual.

Especially in adolescence adults may be seen as unreliable.  It’s up to us to show them how relationships can be forged and maintained through thick and thin.  Talk about how we are doing in our own relationships, about our feelings and how we interpret the other person’s feelings in an effort to understand, if not agree, and about our commitment and efforts to move forward.

Our kids need to know:  How do you show acceptance of the other person, even in the midst of disagreement or disappointment?  How do you find an ally – – be a good ally.  Accept others.  Show them that you accept them and understand that they might have different wants/needs/opinions/beliefs than you and that’s ok.

Proverbs 18:24 New King James Version (NKJV)

A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

In adolescence, it seems kids may go backward.  They seem often to be toddlers in the bodies of teens.  Rather than thinking of them as young adults (“you should be able to . . .”), perhaps in the emotional/social area we can understand them as large toddlers (“I understand how you feel; let’s think about what you can do next; I can think of these options – can you think of anything else?”)  Having a long-range view can also help our parenting mindset as we navigate emotional flare-ups of our kids.  The road to maturity is a long one.  And take care to take care of your other relationships.  They are learning from you.


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