How To Not Freak Out

20130829-113208.jpgOh, the guilt after losing our temper with our children. We may have said some harsh words, grabbed a little arm too tightly, muttered a threat between clenched teeth, or spanked in anger. Whatever you did to cause your mean-mommy-guilt, there’s hope through repentance and forgiveness. 

I really appreciate Michelle Duggar’s (mother of 19) advice on not losing it as a parent. Here’s a little video she did on how to not freak out on your kids. 

I always encourage parents never to hesitate to apologize to your kids if you’ve sinned against them. Nothing heals that relationship like a parent humbly asking their child for forgiveness.

 

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.     Colossians 3:8

Coaching Respectful Talk

IMG_4169[1]One of the most important things I’ve learned to do with my children is to coach them on their speech. I’ve oftentimes disapproved of their speech without teaching them what to do instead. It’s easy to fall into the bad habit of barking rebukes at them:

“Don’t talk to me like that!”

“Stop fighting!”

Or my one year old sits on the floor and screams while I silently and obediently get him some milk.

In all those cases my one goal is to stop the peace-arresting noise of conflict and displeasure. Instead, my goal should be to teach my kids how to communicate kindly, graciously, and effectively. 

My kids’ problem is that they’re just responding in ways that are natural for them. They won’t know how to act any different unless someone shows them. I need to get down on their level and  communicate gently that their current response is unacceptable, and demonstrate with my words and tone what is. 

“That way you talked to me is very disrespectful, and that’s not allowed in this house. Why don’t you say, ‘Mom, may I please watch the end of this show, and then I’ll clean up?'”

“Hey, let’s not fight. Don’t scream and grab. Say, ‘Can I play with that toy, please?'”

And to my one-year old, “No, we don’t need to scream’. Say, ‘Mommy… I… want… milk… please…'”

Now we’re giving our children something to replace their bad behavior with. We are giving them their best chance to learn to talk respectfully and kindly if we take the time to coach them on it, word by word.

Let your speech always be with grace…    Colossians 4:6

Dealing With Tantrums

IMG_0702I saw a poor woman yesterday in the grocery store. It’s the same woman we all see and pity. Her child is on the floor. Defiant. Screaming. She’s embarrassed. Trying to maintain an appearance of control, she impotently orders her child to get up. “Stop it. Let’s go. I mean it. Stop it right now. Get up. I’m going to leave. Fine, I’m leaving now. Bye. I’m leaving! Stop crying. Get up!” But her child’s behavior reveals who has the control.

Tantrums. You have got to get on this one early. They’ll start at age one, and you have to stay on top of it for years. The best thing I believe you can do is tonot allow them. That’s not to say they won’t happen. But your children should know what will happen each and every time they attempt to throw a tantrum.

My one year old screams when his siblings take his toy away. And he doesn’t stop until he gets it back. He may have been wronged, but if I don’t deal with his reaction now, he will learn it’s perfectly acceptable to throw a fit every time he finds something unpleasurable.

The issue in his heart is selfishness. He wants what he wants, and if he doesn’t get it, he’s going find a way to make me give it to him. It’s the selfishness that you want to teach him to control. His selfish reaction maybe annoying now, but it will grow with him. By time he’s 18, if I haven’t taught him how to deal with his selfish heart, he’s going to be a very hurtful, destructive man.

The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Prov. 29:15

Children are like cars with a brick on the gas. If someone doesn’t crawl in the car and grab the wheel, they are going to destroy themselves and others.

You won’t get far explaining selfishness to a one year old, but he’ll get the idea if you deal with him swiftly. As soon as I see him begin to scream, I calmly tell him in his ear (because he won’t hear me over his own screams otherwise) not to scream or he’ll get a spanking. He continues screaming, so I take him into a private place, and give one spanking. I then tell him what to do instead of throwing a tantrum. If you don’t instruct along with discipline, your kids will keep screwing up because they will always know what they are doing wrong, but never know what to do right.

“Don’t scream,” I tell him. “Say, ‘Can I have that back please?’” He does his best to parrot what I instructed him, and I reward him by granting his request. I praise him for responding calmly and unselfishly. “Good job! That’s right! That’s a nice way to react!” Make a big deal about his obedience; give him a hug and tell him you’re proud of him.

As their comprehension grows, you can actually teach them what selfishness is. My older children understand it as “not sharing.” We’re steadily moving from that concept to “not throwing a fit when we don’t get what we want.” Give them alternatives to freaking out. Instead of crying, talk normally. Instead of screaming, ask politely. Instead of hitting, go find an adult.

Keeping children from throwing tantrums is a 24/7 job! I will reiterate my point from earlier. You have to correct them every time they throw a tantrum. Let them know every time that it is unacceptable. If you ignore it, because it’s too unpleasant or inconvenient to correct them, I assure you that they will become increasingly demanding before bedtime. If you go days or weeks without correcting tantrums, you will find yourself dreading taking your kids into public. If you go years, your child will be on You Tube as an adolescent throwing a tantrum because his video games got taken away.

One last powerful point is to appeal to authority. Tell them, “We don’t throw tantrums because Jesus wants us to be thankful. It dishonors Him when we are selfish. If we love Him, then we want to obey Him. Being thankful is saying ‘Thank you’ to Jesus for everything you have.”

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalms 100:4