Perusing Pinterest the other day I came across several articles with information about yelling at your kids – why you yell, how it makes your children feel, and how not to do it. First let me make a confession. I do sometimes yell. However, yelling isn’t what I do habitually. Instead I do something that is worse than yelling.
The other day I walked into my bedroom to find my three-year-old on the bed with my jewelry box. Jewelry covered the comforter. Some of it costume, some of it not, and some of it family heirlooms.
Immediately my hand went to my forehead, I rubbed my head, bowing it in frustration. Then came the sighs, one after another, a pleasant “Ugh!”, and an eye roll to top in off.
There was also the morning I told my daughter to put on her shoes. We were already running late for an appointment. After five minutes of dawdling, she put on her shoes, and I hurried her to the door. As I open it, she looked up to me and asked for a snack.
To give her credit, it was snack time. I had just forgotten to prepare it for her.
So I rushed to the kitchen as she followed behind, poured some Cheerios in a bag, and handed them to her. She started towards the door again while I put away the Cheerios box. Feeling relieved that we were almost to the car, I walked around the corner to see every one of the Cheerios scattered on the floor.
And there they were again – the sighs, ugh’s, and eye rolls.
I didn’t even realize I was making these gestures of disapproval. It was my daughter who pointed them out to me.
She started making statements like, “Mommy, I’m sorry I frustrated you.” Or “Mommy, are you angry?” Sometimes I would even notice her getting anxious. She would try to hurry and fix the problem before I started my series of behaviors.
“Parents, don’t come down too hard on your children or you’ll crush their spirits.” (Colossians 3:21, MSG)
My behavior was crushing my daughter’s spirit.
Even though I wasn’t yelling at her, my sighs sent the messages that she was an inconvenience, she irritated me, she had to be perfect, her behavior determined my mood, and I had more important things to do than help her. They were passive aggressive techniques to shame her.
“Kind words heal and help;cutting words wound and maim.” (Proverbs 15:4, MSG)
I remind my daughter daily to be kind, and yet I wasn’t showing her kindness.Even in my correction I should show her kindness. Sure, there are times she is disobeying or not following directions or playing when she should be doing something else. But a lot of times she is just being a curious three-year-old girl.
“Love is patient and kind . . . ” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NLT)
Patient. Being patient is easy when everything is going my way. When everyone’s on time. When there’s no dawdling. When nothing’s out-of-place. When everything is going smoothly. But the test is being patient when everyone is losing their mind, chaos is taking over, and nothing is going as planned. Loving my daughter is to show her patience with where she is developmentally as a little girl. Again, it’s not ignoring bad behavior or not training her. But it’s meeting her where she is.
In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned . . .” (Titus 2:7, NIV).
As I’ve been more aware of my behavior, there are a few changes I’ve made.
First, I pray more right there in the moment. I also kneel down to her level and hold her hands as I talk to her. I tell her that I love her, and there is nothing she can do to make me stop loving her. And at the end of my talk, I smile at her.
In all of my interactions with my daughter, I want her to know that I am on her side. It is she and I against our enemy who wants to lead her astray and tell her lies. Instead of siding with the enemy, I’m siding with her.