Before you start trying to change your child’s behavior….you must make changes in yourself.
Ugh! I know. It’s so hard.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that if you will do this very hard thing it will reflect in your children. I talk to many moms that are really trying to do the best with their children. These are amazing women. But there are two areas that stand out the most to me when it comes to things that actually damage our efforts.
Number One: Anger
Many, many parents have shared with me that they get so angry and upset with their children that they lose control. My sweet friends, this is something we absolutely MUST change. When you use your anger to try to control your child it only makes everything worse. Once you act out in anger toward your child they are wholly rejected, they do not have a good model for how to behave and worst of all…you have communicated hate to your child that you love so much. Instead of being encouraged to do something different the next time, the child is actually dejected and hopeless.
Ephesians 4:31-32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
These verses apply to all of your relationships. Just because you are raising these little people and spending almost all of your time with them does not change the rules. You do not get to yell, stomp, scream, or fight. In fact, it’s the most important time to get rid of anger and bitterness. These relationships are the most valuable of your life.
When I am tempted to express anger I think about this: By being so mad I am really saying that my agenda is more important than anyone else’s and I am being selfish and hurtful. What is really the.most.important.thing to me in that moment? Is it getting to church on time or is it my child’s heart.
You don’t want to control your child with anger. The ultimate goal is that they are encouraged to make better choices and are not controlled by you at all. Showing anger is pushing away from that goal.
Number Two: Too Much Talking
The number one problem I see among mothers is they simply over-talk, over-explain, over-lecture. This is especially true with toddlers.
Proverbs 29:20 “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
Explaining why you said “No” to a toddler will do nothing but encourage them to continue asking. It tells them that they deserve an explanation and that they are entitled to be part of the discussion. “Mommy, can we go swimming today?” Just tell them “No, not today,” and move on. Do-not-explain why. They do not need to know why, they are not going to be making any big decisions in the next, oh, 5 years. They aren’t a part of this decision. The answer is no, we aren’t going swimming today, the end.
You won’t find me ever, ever, ever explaining why to a toddler. At least not while they are asking. Maybe later or at bedtime, if I think there is something they need to understand, I will explain in a short and simple way. But this is very rare. It would have to be a family crisis or medical disaster for me to explain anything. In that case, the explanation is something else they actually would need to know about. But never for something like eating a cookie or watching a movie.
I know your child is smart, I know your child is amazing, I know your child has tons of energy. But being smart doesn’t mean he needs to know why he can’t go swimming. He can use his giant intelligence in many other areas, like learning to read and doing chores and building Duplo towers. In fact, when you allow your child to suck you in by convincing you to explain everything he is proving he is smarter than you and he is in charge!
And NO LECTURES! When your little guy hits his sister he doesn’t need a long discussion about hitting and how you were hit when you were little and what the Bible says, blah, blah, blah. Deal with the incident straight on and what you say should be no more than 3 sentences. “Johnny, don’t hit people. It’s a no-no. If you do it again you will have to stop playing and sit by Mommy.” That’s it. End of discussion.
Lectures and long talks are overwhelming for a young child. They need a clean, short message. If you feel your child needs more of a lesson you can find a book to read aloud about the subject, memorize Bible verses, together make a list of ways to show kindness when he feels like hitting, think of ways to drive the message home without just sitting and talking AT him.
And most definitely….don’t put the two together and give him an angry lecture!
James 1:19 “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”
Let’s work together to encourage one another to make some changes in the way we respond to our children’s bad behavior. Every time you feel the urge to react in anger or a lecture think about all of us that are dedicated to working together to become better moms. The power of prayer and having friends who are working on the same issues can help you to stop, breathe and manage a rough situation.
My prayers are with YOU!