The shady trees gave us shelter from the sun pounding down on the playground. Moms and dads gathered with kids to play, enjoying the coolness of the canopy. And then the quiet was interrupted by the tantrum. Her foot slammed down, her weight shifted towards him, and she shook a finger in his face while her words shot right to the heart. It was a routine display of someone not getting their way. Except it wasn’t the child throwing the tantrum, it was the mother.
One little boy losing self-control and one mama doing the same in response.
Kids aren’t the only ones who throw tantrums. There is nothing worse than seeing an adult throw one too. I see it all the time. Sometimes in my own house. Yikes! You know the drill-your daughter crosses her arms, pouts her lips, and snaps at you in disrespect. In response, you stand your ground, hands on hips, and sternly shout at her.
We mistake our display of “authority” for being the parent in charge, when in reality we are mimicking our child’s behavior and reinforcing it by our poor example. We become the fool.
God cautions us against responding to a fool in the same manner that they are responding.
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Proverbs 26:4
I know what it’s like to give a reasonable request to be met with a screeching fit. It’s so tempting to lose my cool, narrow my eyes, and put on an air of forcefulness. But that will not train my child’s heart, or sanctify me.
Here is what will.
When our children speak or react with disrespect, as the adult it is our God-given calling to train them in the way they should go. It takes time, and practice.
If your child’s words, tone, and body language are not appropriate, then we need to stop, tell them graciously and calmly that they need to respond differently, and help them understand what that looks like. Our words are to be seasoned with grace, and to draw them with loving-kindness just like God does with us. We are the first line of defense against wrongful reactions by modeling a different reaction ourselves when our kids throw a tantrum or speak with impudence.
“Daniel, you are showing mommy disrespect. Please unfold your arms, and speak to me in a normal tone without whining.”
“Sarah, your answer to your sister was harsh. Please say it again with kindness.”
“Thomas, you may not ignore me when I ask you a question. Please turn around, look at me in the eye, and respond with a happy heart.”
“Sophie, you may not talk to daddy with a whiny voice. Use your normal words to ask for what you would like.”
Sometimes, our children will not be willing to modify their tone or behavior. That’s the time to send them to a quiet place or their room to think about it and when they are ready to respond in a Godly way, they can return and try again.
There is no more important work for us as parents than this kind of daily discipline with our kids. When we remain consistent with our expectations, our kids learn what is acceptable and what is not. But they also realize that our love for them is unconditional and not based on performance. Our temperance is a gift to them in many ways.
We can’t expect self-control when we lose it ourselves.
We can’t ask them to speak with gentle words when we spit out orders.
We can’t request them to look us in the eye when they are talking to us when we are busy at a task and don’t stop to look them in the eye too.
We can’t tell them to be patient when we fly off the handle.
We can’t point out their bossy talk when we are all business in our commands towards them.
But, we can turn our own hearts and minds to Scripture for our own refinement, we can model what it is to speak with grace, and we can train our children by the Holy Spirit’s leading.
The one who is wise in heart is called discerning, and kind speech increases persuasiveness. Proverbs 16:21
A gentle response turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath. Proverbs 15:1
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone. Colossians 4:6
Be the parent, not the tantrum-thrower. Take the time to train your children, again, and again, and again. There is no greater responsibility or joy for us as parents. This is worthy work, raising reasonable and Christ-centered thinkers, and sanctifying us as parents in the process.
YOUR TURN! What is your biggest challenge when it comes to modeling right behavior and responses from your kids? How does this apply in other areas of our lives? Which of these Bible verses speaks to your heart? If this post blessed you, please SHARE it with others! I love to hear from you!!
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory. Psalm 115:1
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