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Be Your Kids’ Thermostat, Not Their Thermometer

I recently saw the most inspiring nugget of parenting advice on Instagram. I was rolling through stories and found myself watching and rewatching this story what seemed like a million times because the advice was so good and so true. I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind and it’s been coming up so much lately as I’m navigating into toddler-dom with my son.

It went something like this: a thermometer simply reads temperature. It gauges a situation and gives you information that you use to decide on a reaction. A thermostat, on the other hand, controls a situation, essentially telling the room how to behave. When it comes to your children, are you a thermometer or a thermostat?

Mind = BLOWN!

The story was geared toward parents of infants and sleep schedules, but I just couldn’t shake this analogy from permeating all facets of my next few days. My son is 16 months old and forging into full blown toddler status. He is learning so much, which then inevitably leads to testing boundaries. I realized that I had been simply thermometer-ing him by just watching him test those boundaries and then reacting. Instead, I need to be the thermostat and sense that the room is hot and pump that cold air in until the room is the desired temperature. This means zI need to clearly and frequently communicate the “rules” and then redirect (i.e. repeat the rules) when he crosses those boundaries.

I realized that this applied to other areas of child rearing, as well. Keep modeling the eating behavior I wanted him to emulate. Keep showing him how to pray before bed every night. Keep displaying “gentle hands” to the dog! Keep pumping cold air into the hot room instead of just reading a tool that tells me the room is hot.

We are our kids’ true north. They learn how to live in this world by watching us. It’s our job to be their thermostat, to tell and show them how to behave. I hope this was as helpful to you as it was to me!

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