We’ve been talking about when your child is being so annoying, and what to do. What should your response be? How do you stop the anger, frustration and annoyance that rises inside? First of all, I want to call attention to the fact that every parent faces this, because every child is annoying sometimes, and there is a period in a child’s development when they can be more so than others, not that you should just say, oh well, and ignore it, but that as a parent, it helps to know that we’re in this together, and it’s not just your child that’s behaving this way! Right? Sometimes, we fail to admit when we’re going through something–false pride, perhaps? or too afraid of humiliation, or we think we’re the only ones–and we fail to gain the support that God means for us to have from the Body of believers. Older women are supposed to teach the younger, Titus 2 says, how to love their children, among other things. And, in general, we’re to bear one another’s burdens. So, maybe it’s time to just admit we’re going through something, and humbly ask, not only if they have any counsel to give, but to ask others to pray.
I said that there was more to this than could be discussed in one post, so if you didn’t get a chance to read it yet, go and read Part 1, 5 Things to Remember When Your Child is Being So Annoying. And, Part 3 is coming.
Often, one of the things that’s so annoying is that our child makes extra work for us when they’re acting immaturely! And, as if we didn’t have enough to do! Then, we react immaturely in response, out of frustration. Often they create a big mess. If what they’ve done caused a mess, or they have broken something, perhaps the best thing to do is to allow the natural consequences of their behavior to do the training. If at all possible, have your child clean up the mess. If they can’t do it all, make sure they do some. If it’s broken glass or something like that, you can clean it to make it safe, then have them either clean it again, or clean something else, and explain that because you are having to do this work, they must do the work that you couldn’t do. Keep yourself calm, and let the consequence be fitting and train them. If the item was worth replacing, and they were clearly at fault, you should have them pay for the replacement of the broken item, as well. It may mean they have to do some extra work around the house in order to earn the money and it may take time, but that lesson won’t be forgotten soon. They are building character, and learning responsibility. These are extremely important things to learn! In certain circumstances, they may need to ask forgiveness of another family member. Even if they didn’t mean to do it, they should still say, “I’m sorry.” An oft-heard excuse is, “I forgot.” Or, “I didn’t know,” or “I didn’t mean to.” Though that may be very true, they need to learn that there are still consequences for their actions, and whenever possible, let the consequences train them. And, maybe they’ll remember better next time!
The result of their immaturity may mean more work for you, but remember that you can clean up a mess in a few minutes with your hands, or you can tear down your child in a second with your words and attitude. If you feel like you’re going to lose it, give yourself some space and time to cool down before dealing with your child. Communicate to them by your actions, words and attitude that they are more important than whatever was spilled or broken. My mom used to say, “It’s only a thing.” Even if it’s a family heirloom, try not to place more importance on it than on them by your words or actions. When you’ve calmed down, get everything cleaned up quickly, working together, (perhaps they don’t know how to clean up a mess like this one, and it can be a valuable training time), and encourage them by saying something like, “No need to cry over spilt milk,” or something of the sort. This isn’t the time to give them a lecture. If you’ve been training them up till now, they could probably recite the lecture verbatim anyway! They know! They know. Yes, they really do know. And, dear mom, they are going to turn out ok. They will eventually become responsible adults. They really won’t turn into space cadets or irresponsible slobs! Someday soon, your training will bear fruit. Don’t give up, and do not fear. Keep on patiently training.
If instruction is needed, give it later when you’re not in the middle of the crisis. Your calm, mature response now will pave the way for their receiving your instruction later, and your demeanor is a very important lesson all by itself. Actions speak louder than words. Have you ever heard the saying, “Your actions are shouting so loudly, I can’t hear a word you’re saying”? When you do sit down with them later, perhaps you could open up with a question such as, “What do you think you could have done differently in order to have a different outcome?”
2) This is the golden moment you’ve been waiting for to train them in Godly character, by your example.
What you do now is more important than what you say. I’m writing this to help you so that next time YOU will have a different outcome:) What do you think you could do differently in order to have a different outcome the next time your child behaves so annoyingly? How will you respond the next time they have acted immaturely (for the umpteenth time). Decide now how you will act and what you will say when something is spilled all over the kitchen or is broken–because of their immaturity. When they took it a little too far, didn’t stop before someone got hurt (physically or emotionally). Or did something even smaller, but still very irritating. What you do will impact their lives more than what you say, as important as what you say is. Decide ahead of time how you’ll act. You might even picture it in your mind.
“A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.”
“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”
First of all, may I suggest that you don’t wait until the behavior is driving you absolutely crazy and you react by yelling at your child. You be the mature one. When it first begins to be annoying, or you see where it’s headed, quietly suggest a different behavior, action, or activity, in a calm voice, with no sarcasm or irritation in your voice. Make eye contact. Get a “Yes, Mom,” from them.
Daily, first thing in the morning, commit your day to the Lord, and ask Him to be Lord of all that happens, giving you a calm spirit, and the ability to respond appropriately throughout the day, and bring Him glory through all you do and say. Pray with your children about the day and all your actions–yours and theirs. It will also teach them to take everything to God in prayer.
When you’re stressed, tired, or are having a difficult day, you will be tempted to become angry. The temptation is not sin. And, this is not because of your child’s behavior. Their behavior is only revealing that you are tempted to become angry (perhaps you have an anger problem and you need to deal with it). And, if you do become angry, be an example of asking forgiveness, in that case, of your child.
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