Sometimes we blame our anger on circumstances (“it annoyed me that he kept doing x”), people (“she just gets under my skin,” or “our personalities just clash”), and sometimes–perhaps more rare– we own it all ourselves (“I’ve got an anger problem.”)
However, I think 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. God has built this into us– we know we should not allow a behavior, and so it makes us mildly annoyed… as it is repeated, we get more and more frustrated, to the point where our anger explodes because we “can’t take it anymore!”
WHY NOT IGNORE IT?
If we tune in and listen, we often hear it inside our heads the very first time something occurs. But too often, instead of listening to that pricking of the Holy Spirit, we overlook it, “let it slide” or even (due to bad advice) think we’d be wrong to correct it the first time and expect obedience from our child. We ignore the “mommy radar” God has built into our hearts.
WHY NOT CODDLING OR COERCION?
Some so-called Christian parenting gurus champion ideas that essentially praise overlooking sin and disobedience. They downplay the idea of a child learning to obey the first time (sometimes outright criticizing it, sneering about “first time obedience”), and instead, they:
- encourage being “playful” when your child disobeys
- tell you the child may not be mature enough to understand (even though the defiant gleam in the eyes says the child understands just fine)
- prescribe more hugs and encouraging words because when a child acts out, they’re simply a “little person” having “big feelings.”
I want to warn you. These ideas are poisonous and unbiblical. They produce angrier children and will ultimately delay your child’s ability to develop self-control.
GIVING BIBLICAL DISCIPLINE IS PART OF LOVING YOUR CHILDREN
Yes, we need to make sure that our children understand (and they do so very early!), and yes, we need to give them heaps and heaps of encouragement and praise (and snuggles and smiles and reading times and cuddles and silly faces, etc.). We should ABSOLUTELY be affectionate mothers who reach and seek to understand our children’s hearts. Our children should be raised in a very affectionate, encouraging, and loving environment; no doubt about that! (Click here for 35 Ways to Love Your Children.)
But the biblical response to disobedient, wayward sin is discipline (both from God toward us, and from us toward our children). I love the way the NKJV translates Proverbs 13:24:
“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”
Three pieces of wisdom are found here:
- Withholding discipline is hateful.
- Whatever anyone may say (even if they have the title “Christian” in their website or book), it is loving to discipline your child.
- The wise & loving parent disciplines PROMPTLY.
It’s that THIRD point I’m honing in on today.
REDUCE YELLING & ANGER BY DISCIPLINING PROMPTLY
First, have you read my articles about yelling, anger, & sin? <—- In those articles, I’ve shared personal confession about my struggle with anger, & the truths that have helped to me to fight it and finally have victory in my battle against angry yelling.
One of the keys I’ve found to combatting anger in my life is to diligently watch my children and to, as that verse says, discipline them promptly.
By disciplining promptly:
- I’m parenting proactively… dealing with things in a self-controlled way, before anger has a chance to rise up and “master” me.
- I’m parenting consistently… helping my children to recognize that I say what I mean and mean what I say. Their lives are much simpler, and their attitudes much better, when they know what to expect and which things are acceptable and which things are not.
This is actually the most loving thing we could do.
Could you imagine working a job where the standard changed each day, and sometimes you could get away with something just fine, and even think you’re doing well, and then three or four times later, get written up for that same action? That would be incredibly discouraging.
THAT is what you are doing when you let your child:
- repeatedly disregard your instructions
- repeatedly do something that irritates and frustrates
- disrespect you multiple times
BEFORE you blow up and rain down on him like a ball of fury.
Or perhaps your style isn’t to pour out your wrath all at once. Perhaps, instead of being the volcano of anger, you are the clam-like mom who seethes with a boiling anger, ready to spill over at any moment. Maybe your fury bubbles under the surface and is felt through clenched teeth, withheld affection, and stoic responses.
FIGHT ANGER. DISCIPLINE PROMPTLY.
However it presents itself in your life, one way you can combat your anger is by honing your mommy radar and disciplining PROMPTLY.
Christian mom, it is LOVING to discipline your children promptly and consistently.
And… it will make for a far less angry mom, because you’ll be dealing with things BEFORE they are driving you up the wall.
IN THE COMMENTS:
Is this something you need to work on doing more consistently?