Have you ever just lost your ever-lovin’ mind on your kids? I have. It’s actually quite embarrassing if you think about it—these little kids, these tiny human beings, these people that are decades younger than we are know exactly how to push our buttons so well that can push us over the edge.
We are adults for cryin’ out loud! But yet, I find myself acting like a child sometimes…yelling, crying, pouting, dirty looks, eye rolls, sighs, slamming doors, being annoyed, wanting them to just leave me alone and get the heck away from me IMMEDIATELY!! I don’t know how they do it, but those little button-pushers know how to push so hard that they release anger I never even knew I had!
I’m not excusing these behaviors in our parenting, because I know there are better ways…more loving ways…more Godly ways for us to handle ourselves, but I am giving us the grace we need to accept that we are human. We are not perfect. We will make mistakes. And so will our kids! And the sooner we realize that, the better we will be able to not only bounce back from our adult fits but hopefully be able to avoid them altogether.
Here are 5 strategies I’ve tried that have helped me…I hope they help you too:
1. Take-10 STAT: When kids are in the button-pushing mode, there’s always a reason. And did you know that the reason is almost ALWAYS to get our attention? So instead of losing our cool or allowing them to push anymore of our buttons, look at their nasty attitude as a ATTENTION EMERGENCY! “I’m noticing some grumpies are coming out in your attitude right now, let’s just stop what we’re both doing and do something fun together for 10 minutes. What would you like to do?” Even if the least of your desires is to spend time with them or even be near them, taking 10 minutes of your time can revive your relationship!
2. Positive Self-Talk: If buttons have already been pushed and your mood moves too quickly to anger, try taking a deep breath and say this over and over: “I am calm and confident.” Positive self-talk will help YOU remember with confidence that you are in loving authority over your child. Your reaction does not have to mirror their reaction. They can be as upset as they want for as long as they want. You made the right choice and you can remain calm about it.
3. Get space: Remember do not engage. If they are strong-willed, they will want to try to pick a fight with you (sometimes just for fun), but you can remain calm and confident. If you do feel anger rising, simply excuse yourself and say: “I need a little space to calm down. Please respect my space. We can talk when we are both ready to be respectful.” And when it’s not a yelling and slamming door moment, it’s OK to go to your room or a bathroom and lock the door to get away for a moment.
4. Pray: If they continue to engage…even if they are banging on your door…just say a prayer. Pray for YOUR peace but also pray for THEIRS. It’s OK to let them be upset until you are both calm. And don’t forget the powerful When/Then Tool. “When you’re done being upset, then we can____________(play a game, read a book, go to the park, etc.) Then on your way to the park, you can calmly talk to them about the situation, share ideas about what you both can do differently next time, and hug.
5. Encourage: “We’ll both get better about talking instead of yelling. I just know it! Let’s keep encouraging each other and practicing how to have a respectful conversation, OK? I love you and when two people love each other and are on the same team like we are, it’s important that we learn how to speak respectfully to each other…even when we’re angry.”
One final thought—through that kid who is driving us crazy…God is doing something in us…to shape us and change us to be more like Him. Parenting is a process of growth. Let’s ask ourselves: “Lord, how are you trying to grow me through this child?”
Lord, remind us that we are not children anymore. Yes, we are Your Children and we belong to You. Yes, we can have a childlike faith believing so whole-heartedly in You and Your goodness. But we do not have to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child (or throw fits like a child). We can choose to do away with these childish things. (from 1 Corinthians 13:11) Through You, we can disarm those buttons our kids push so that they will no longer have any power over us! And instead of being buttons that trigger anger and yelling, they will simply release confidence, a calm spirit, and a kind heart.
Here’s to building better families together–