I was yelling back and forth with my daughter last night. In fact, we were screaming at each other.
“I love you!”
“No, I love you more!”
“No, I love you more than that!”
“No, I love you infinity!”
We were laughing, yelling, and yes, arguing at how much we loved each other and I thought…”This is the only reason parents should be arguing with or yelling at their kids.”
Now, let’s be real for a second. Kids push our buttons. Kids tick us off. Kids frustrate the heck out of us. Right? And sometimes our “go-to” is to yell.
So don’t worry–I never want you to think that I’m this perfect parent who has never yelled or lost her cool. Um, no. There have been so many times I’ve beat myself up at the end of the day for losing my mind on my kids. We all have moments like that.
But hopefully, we can all learn from our mistakes and improve for next time, right? We don’t have to let these patterns continue over and over. And with the Teamwork Parenting Approach, I’ve learned to apply simple tools that help keep me more calm…
1. Spend more time spending time with them. This right here will make all the difference. If you don’t do anything else I share, do this…spend time with your kids! The Connection Tool reminds us that when we work on developing a close positive relationship with them and just delight in being with them, there isn’t as much time to argue. Our kids also feel less of a need to argue (especially if they are arguing just to get attention or get a rise out of us. Remember, kids will seek our attention no matter how they can get it!)
2. Set expectations and consequences up in advance. The Proactive Tool reminds us that often kids misbehave and arguments ensue when expectations and consequences aren’t clear and fair and agreed upon in advance. Together, you can come up with a list of expectations and consequences BEFORE they go to the store or restaurant or to a friend’s house or get a phone.
3. Take time to practice the expectations you’ve set. The Practice Tool reminds us that kids need practice! Whatever the “hot buttons” are in your home…whatever causes the most amounts of arguments…you don’t have to take it. Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of an argument. Do it during a peaceful time of day. Practice kind words. Practice respecting the “no”. Practice sharing. Practice getting out of the house on time or a new bedtime routine. Over and over and over. Practice how to do things right—even if they don’t have time to play on any electronics or watch TV. “I know you’ll get this, so we will keep practicing together. We are a team and I’m here to encourage you.”
4. Point out the good. The Character Tool teaches us that during a quiet, non-angry time–point out the good character traits they are demonstrating. Our entire parenting focus should be on teaching character. How about let’s take time to thank our kids when they choose not to argue. Thank them when they choose to be respectful of your “No”, when they choose to listen and obey, when they choose kind words. If they are having a bad day, give them space and grace. Encourage them by saying: “Tomorrow is a new day. And I know you’ll improve. I’m always here to help. We are a team and we love each other!” And then pray together for more team unity in your home!
Remember that we are on the same team as our kids. We are in loving authority over them, and God is trusting us to teach them well. It is my prayer that when you apply these teamwork tools, you will find more positive interactions in your home and maybe someday you will soon find that the only time you and your kids argue is about how much you love each other too!
Lord–remind us every day that as parents and God’s servants, we must not be argumentative, but gentle listeners and teachers who keep our cool, work firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. 2 Timothy 2:24 The Message
Here’s to building better families–