“I Want to Stop Yelling at My Kids”
Is this you, Mama?
Are you tired of fighting against this sin? I get tired of it, too. Over the last 10 years, I’ve made progress in my fight against sinful anger, but I’m not “over it”– oh how I wish I was! Unfortunately, it is still a sin I have to actively fight, or else I lose ground in the battle.
I try to share here, openly and vulnerably, so that other mamas can learn from the lessons & failures God has let me experience.
Here are 8 things I’ve learned that have helped me in my ongoing battle against sinful anger and yelling (each has a link you can click on to learn more, if that’s an area where you want to go deeper):
A big part of the fight, for me, has been in choosing NOT to justify my sinful anger. My perspective needed to change. I needed to agree with God that fits of anger are sinful.
It’s one thing to yell out, “Stop! Come back here!” when your child is running into the street. But that’s not the kind of yelling that makes us feel guilty, is it? We know instinctively that THAT’s not the kind of yelling we’re supposed to curb.
The Bible calls sinful yelling “fits of anger.” And we can feel it happening in our hearts. In the same way we can tell when our child is throwing a “fit,” we can see it in ourselves. We lose control, give in to our flesh, and yell… rather than exercising self-control.
It’s a completely different animal from yelling for our child to come away from the street.
My heart changes, and adopts the right posture, when I admit that fits of anger ARE (in fact) SIN. When I yell, I am willfully giving in to my flesh & not yielding to God. I am sinning against them and God. (Read more—-> Stress, Yelling, & SIN)
#2- I NEED TO STOP “FEEDING” MY YELLING.
Scripture tells me to “make no provision for the flesh.”
Provisions are things we pack up and take with us when we plan to go somewhere.
So if I’m going to “make no provision” for my yelling, I need to cut off anything that would nourish or feed this sin in my life. Specifically, I need to analyze what’s happening, and choose to parent more purposefully on the front end.
- What was happening before I yelled?
- What was the context of my most recent fit of anger?
- In what circumstances am I most tempted to yell?
can help me analyze and discern the situations that are most likely to lead me toward fits of anger. (Read more—-> Make No Provision For Your Yelling.)
Beyond circumstances, I need to evaluate my own heart.
Peering below the surface, when we yell, what is really happening inside our hearts? What is it that we are grasping for? What do we want?
When I yell, this is what I see in my heart:
- I want CONTROL.
- I want TO LOOK GOOD.
- I want EASE.
- I want TO BE RIGHT.
- I want it NOW.
Perhaps some of the things I listed resonated with you? Perhaps you see other motivations in the depths of your own heart?
Our “I wants” reveal our idols– the things we bow down to and are willing to give up everything for. Ultimately, what is coming out of my mouth is revealing what is going on inside my heart. (Read more—-> What is Happening in My Heart When I Yell?)
Sometimes we blame our anger on circumstances, people, and sometimes–perhaps more rare– we own it all ourselves.
However, there’s one thing that is nearly universal in the way it consistently produces an angry, pushed-to-the-edge mama.
The thing I’ve observed in myself in and others is this:
The LONGER I wait to discipline my children, the ANGRIER and MORE out of control I am.
This seems paradoxical at first. We can think we’re being kind or gracious to wait to discipline.
Aren’t I being *MERCIFUL* to overlook it the first 3 times, before finally dealing with it the 4th time?
No, what’s actually happening is this: I am being inconsistent (letting my child get away with something 3 times without correction, before it is no longer OK), and my frustration amps up each time I allow it to occur. (Read more—-> “Is This One Reason You’re an ANGRY Mom?”)
No one else– not my husband, not my children– can stop me from yelling. God isn’t going to magically turn me into a patient, kind, gentle mother who doesn’t yell.
Now, God WILL help me. He desires to sanctify me… but I must participate with Him in this work.
HERE’S THE TRUTH ABOUT GROWTH: Growth doesn’t just happen to us.
Growth, in any form, happens with intentionality and with purposeful steps taken in a different direction. If I want to stop yelling, I have to work at it. (Read more—-> “Stop Waiting for a ZAP!”)
The arguing and complaining can feel like it’s non-stop… because sometimes (often?) it is.
We’re dealing with people. People with sin in their hearts. People who need guidance and correction. People who:
- bump up against each other all day every day, and
- irritate one another, and
- expose each other’s weak places, and
- like for things to always go their way, and
- do mean things on purpose, and
- are quick to take offense when someone does something they don’t like, and
- keep making the same noise over and over, and
- think they’re always right, and
- don’t do the thing you were relying on them to do, and
- do the thing they shouldn’t do, and
- have no idea why they did what they did, and
- then to top it all off, they do all this with crummy attitudes that perpetually need correction from us.
But can I encourage you to flip this on its head?
Can you see THESE THINGS– the attitude correction, the behavioral coaching, the parenting moments– as your “normal everyday activities” and let the other things be done AROUND this?
I think it will make a huge difference in how you perceive how your days are going. THIS is why we are mothers. THIS is the stuff that matters MOST. (Read more—-> “Here’s Why the Arguing & Complaining is Non-Stop in Your Home”)
When our kids disobey us, and especially if they cop an attitude, it’s easy for us to feel out of control… as if we CAN’T harness our own anger amidst such outright defiance.
Good desires, like
- for our children to learn to obey,
- for them to make wise decisions,
- for them to respect us as their God-given authority
can lead us into sin (fits of anger) if we aren’t thinking rightly, and acting in long-term focused self-control, in those high-adrenaline situations.
This video of a police traffic stop mirrors what calm, firm correction looks like as a mother… like the pulled-over man in the video, children really can be ridiculous, emphatic, and illogical.
But, like this cop, you really can be CALM and SENSIBLE as you mete out discipline. I believe this police officer remains calm because he recognizes the truth about the situation and doesn’t let the emotions/stress of the moment overwhelm the truth of his position, and the truth about the man who has committed the offense.
It encourages me: You really can persevere and stay calm in the face of nonsense and immaturity. (Read more—-> “Is It Possible to Give Calm, Firm Correction?”)
In the summer of 2016, we hiked over 150 miles together as a family. Over the course of doing those hard trips together, my sinful yelling was exposed again and again.
I realized that by advocating for us to stop doing difficult hikes so my attitude wouldn’t be pushed to the max,
what I was saying was, “it’s fine for that stuff to BE there in my heart; I just don’t want to have it excavated and shown to the people around me.”
The truth was, I just wanted to avoid exposure.
And that’s not a Christian attitude. If it’s IN me, coming out, I’m merely seeing the spillage of what’s in my soul’s “cup.”
So… in the days that followed, I did the hard, relational work to talk through these things with our son. It was hard, and painful, and I felt very exposed, many times over. Those hard times have led to some of the most soul-connective times we’ve yet experienced with our kids.
Though it’s incredibly difficult, and we naturally buck against it, vulnerability– the exposure of the worst of who we really are– actually FUELS relationship. Freely admitting our failures as parents allows us all to come– parents and children together– like needy beggars, before the cross of Christ. (Read more—> “Here’s Why We Do Hard Things *WITH* Our Kids.”)
IN THE COMMENTS:
- I’d love to hear resources, concepts, or practices that have helped YOU in your fight against sinful yelling/fits of anger.
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