This is the last in a series of 4 posts where I explore one of my parenting fails – my inability to control my temper when my kids push my buttons. If you’re just joining us, please go back and read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. The following list is a continuation of the tips I shared in Part 3 – helpful parenting tips I’ve learned so far.
- Have structure – So much research supports the fact that children need structure (and even want it) by way of boundaries, rules, routines, and schedules. You don’t have to be rigid, but it is good to set rules and expect that children behave accordingly.
- Delegate/Accept Help – Children love to help, especially when they are little. They may make more of a mess than you’d like or not do something exactly the way you want, but bite your tongue, be patient, and accept the assistance when they want to give it. Also, accept help from others – your mother-in-law, best friend, neighbor, husband – especially when you have tiny babies. Give others the blessing of being able to assist you.
- Plan Ahead – Things go so much better when I have done as much as I can to prep ahead of time. Have the kids make school lunches and pack book bags the night before. Lay out clothes the night before. Plan an entire week of dinners the weekend before. Many of the screaming fits I have thrown have been in the morning before school when someone couldn’t find his homework or her shoes because those things weren’t put where they should have been ahead of time.
- Respect Your Children’s Father – I realize this is controversial, but it simply has to do with how God wired us as male and female. Our children need to see that their mom respects their dad. I imagine this can be difficult if there is a separation or divorce. However, some of the most amicable separations/divorces I have seen have been between people who are still nice and respectful toward each other.
- If It Isn’t Working, Change It – Some of this advice may not apply or may not work based on your family culture. These aren’t written in blood. The best you can do is try them and then tweak them to fit best with the dynamics of your family.
- Get to Know Your Kids – (a little long. Bear with me…I promise I will make a relevant point). In Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God study, the author says, “In every situation God demands that you depend on Him rather than a method. The key is not a method but a relationship with God.“ He goes on to say, “ A formula is not the way to recognize God‘s voice either… If there was a formula… You would not have to seek God with all your heart. You could mindlessly use the formula and neglect your relationship with God.“ I think this applies to our children, (or anyone else in our lives for that matter). If there was a formula for interacting well with our kids, we would not have to seek genuine relationships with them; we wouldn’t have to spend time getting to know them. We could just rely on the formula – those five tips from that parenting article or that list of advice from that veteran mom. This isn’t to say that these things aren’t valuable or some methods aren’t worth your time; however, we shouldn’t completely rely on them. Get to know who your children are by spending time with them. For example, I learned early on that Ethan was an outdoor kid. He likes watching TV, but he LOVES being outside – digging in the dirt and rocks, exploring the woods, hunting for lizards and frogs, running in the yard having a Nerf gun war… That led me to notice that he and I also interact better when we are outside. Coop us up in the house all day, and tempers are likely to flare. Put us in the backyard, and we can jump on the trampoline, pull weeds and smell gardenia blossoms all day! I know this because I have spent time with him – watching him, talking to him, noticing what he likes to do, and so on. Now if we could just spend all our time outside, we’d be best buds! But, this is honestly one of the hardest things for me. It takes energy that I would rather not expend. It takes listening to and talking about and doing some things that don’t interest me (hello, Nerf gun wars?!). It takes time away from the things I want to do. It takes creativity and imagination. But I have to do it, and you have to do it, as often as we possibly can. This is building the relationship, and this is what our children need most (and it will do us a world of good as well).
My son isn’t a bad kid. More than likely, neither is your kid. Our kids are just being kids at their stage of development doing what kids do at that stage. As parents, we have to learn how to work through that as best we can and get out on the other side with our sanity and our relationships with our children in tact.
Above all else, we have to fight every day to choose joy in parenthood, or Satan will steal it. He’ll lull us into a cycle where we focus on all the things our children are doing wrong and miss all the wonderful things about them. That’s how he steals the joy in families, especially from mothers.
Oh man! That opens up so much more to talk about when it comes to our children, and more I should tell you about my struggle with my mommy-temper, but I should probably move on for now. I imagine there’ll be more opportunity for me to revisit this subject soon enough.
What situations are most difficult for you when it comes to your children’s behavior? What makes you “lose it”? What tips and advice have you found to work when you’re in tough interactions with your children?
Next week is a first on the Servant Girl Stories blog – we’ll have a guest post! You’ll meet Leigh Anderson, founder of Be Still Mama, a women’s ministry at First Baptist Church of Indian Trail. Join me next week for her post about what happens when we have a critical spirit.