As I was talking with Janae about the topic of exasperating our children, she mentioned jokingly that she wished there was verse to children to not exasperate your parents.
Ephesians 6:4 says,
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Colossians 3:21 has the same message. Many translations use the word “provoke” instead of exasperate.
The message of both passages is the same: Parents have a tendency to encourage negative behaviour often without even meaning to.
I know I struggle sometimes with how I treat my kids and it causes them to react in negative ways.
So here are three ways to help you avoid meltdowns with your kids:
1. Use the word “no” less often.
Before you react to that, let me explain. Parents (myself included) use the word "no" too much.
Now I don’t mean that you let your kids do whatever they want. I mean there are other ways to say no without actually saying no.
I am so in the habit of saying no when my kids ask to do something. There are times when I say it out of habit without even listening to what they are actually asking. But when I stop, make eye contact, and explain why they can’t do what they want, it gives them the opportunity for a more positive response.
Now there are circumstances where a parent needs to respond with a firm no, but often you can give the same message a different way.
Throughout the day the kids continually ask for snacks. Usually around dinner time, we cut the them off from snacks so that they actually eat dinner. When you tell Uriah though, you have to be careful you don't step on a landmine. Avoid the word no at all costs. But if you remind him that dinner is very soon, often you can avoid the meltdown and save yourself a headache.
2. Admit and apologize when you're wrong.
You may not get the connection right away but let me explain: When a parent fails to recognize and admit to a child they were wrong the message they send their child is “I’m always right and you’re always wrong.” Not only that but it also tells them that they always need to be right.
When you admit that as a parent you made a mistake and that there are going to be times you need Jesus just as much as they do, it discourages resentment.
I know there have been times when blew it. When I lacked patience and yelled at one of the kids unnecessarily. When I was more in the wrong than they were. However, It was in those times that it gave me the opportunity to ask my kids for forgiveness and share the gospel with them at the same time.
Apologizing is showing our kids that we are sometimes wrong and in need of grace too. It also gives them an example and shows them how to ask for forgiveness too.
3. Encourage them and point out their gifts.
One of my favorite bedtime routines is to tell my kids character traits that I have seen throughout the day. Parts of their personality that bring smiles to my face.
I like to point out when Noah was a good leader and Uriah was a good helper. How their rambunctious personalities made me laugh or how I was proud when they listened to throughout the day.
Taking time to encourage them is key to bringing up grounded kids. We as parents often spend all our time pointing out the wrong things they do and forget to point out the positive in our kids.
After I fell into this routine I noticed a decline in temper tantrums from the oldest. I think that pressure often falls on him more than his brother to get things right. So when I started making sure he knew there were things he was getting right some of that pressure was released.
Whether you mean to or not, you as a parent have the opportunity to either encourage good or bad behaviour. The words you say and how you say them can make all the difference in responding to a child.
These are just a few habits that can help improve your parenting skills. And it also might prevent a few meltdowns.
We have been charged with the important task of raising godly children. Let’s not take that responsibility lightly.