be the thermostat

Parenting: Being the Thermostat Instead of the Thermometer

be the thermostatSimilar but Different

Both thermostats and thermometers indicate weather and temperatures, yet they are completely different. A thermometer measures and indicates temperature. A thermostat regulates temperature and can set off equipment at a certain temperature. The purpose of a thermostat is to maintain temperature at a desired setting. We do this in our  homes daily when we adjust the controls for heat or air. We turn that knob up or down depending on whether it’s too hot or too cold in the house.

We should do this in our homes when it comes to setting the emotional and spiritual climate in our homes. By adjusting our “settings”, we can have an impact for the negative or the positive.

be the thermostatBe the thermostat

An important part of parenting is choosing to be the thermostat. This is our responsibility, and not the privilege or responsibility of our kids.

It’s easy to slip out of that mode and allow one or more of our kids to regulate the emotional temperature in our home. The moody kid, the one with emotional issues, the child with a handicap, the one with the strongest personality, the sensitive child, or the one with the loudest voice can easily become the thermostat if we’re not paying attention. We, the adult and the parent, then become the thermometer. We can note the emotional turmoil in the home, but we are not the ones who control it because we have not learned to be the thermostat. When a thermostat is not engaged, explosions occur, causing a lot of damage. The thermostat nixes the possibility of an explosion.

be the thermostat

How to stop being the thermometer

  • Get out of passive mode. Be pro-active instead of re-active. You are the parent. Be the parent.
  • Pay attention to each sensor (kid) in the house and know their triggers. This will put you into action mode.
  • Recognize not only the temperature but also the causes of the temperature. Insight gives power.

How to be the Thermostat

  • Set the tone of the day by setting your mood over your emotions. It’s a new day and a new slate. Don’t bring yesterday’s battles into today’s forays. This is not easy, and you probably don’t even want to know how I know!
  • Deliberately diffuse time bombs by paying attention to what is happening in your house. Watch for small, seemingly insignificant sparks that can explode at a moment’s notice – and squelch them. Don’t allow a kid to throw gasoline on an already smoldering fire.
  • Set the tone by having a plan. Rewards and incentives help shift the focus from personality discords to a team effort. Bribery will get you nowhere, but having a plan that encourages good behavior will.
  • Figure out the things that skyrocket the temperature into a sizzling mess. If you’re interested, you can peruse some of my ideas on different topics such as the issue of toys, divisions in raising kids, counting to three, teaching patience, being fair, chores and homework, structure, or figuring out consequences,
  • Pay attention to your home environment; adjust the “thermostat” as necessary by maintaining an atmosphere in your home that brings harmony and not discord. Teach obedience.  Develop structure. Be the one to set the mood. Don’t give in to pouting. You’re the parent, so act the part.

Nobody said parenting would be easy. Choose to be the thermostat, and you will find it becomes doable. Ask God for wisdom, then listen to what He tells you. It’s one of the best things you can do in parenting, including becoming a thermostat.

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