Every parent has felt it.
That feeling of frustration or irritation that comes when your child delays, disobeys, drags their feet, repeatedly forgets instructions, embarrasses you in public, acts silly when you’re needing cooperation, insert-your-child’s-annoyance-here.
What do you do when you’re FRUSTRATED with your child’s behavior?
Yell and say things you don’t really mean? Sigh, then rant about how frustrated you are? Lecture them repeatedly? Ignore it and hope it will go away? Threaten to take away Santa Claus for this year? (Yes, I have truly heard parents threaten this one!)
None of these are the best choice, although every parent is tempted to react in one of these ways when they’re frustrated.
Especially in the heat of the moment, (like when you’re trying to get 8 children out the door for church, or you’re parenting in front of a crowd of people), it can be difficult to know what to do when you feel those feelings of frustration rising. 🙂
My husband and I have determined that there are Two Choices for us when we’re frustrated. These are actually very simple, but remembering them during stressful times can be the biggest challenge! Because I need to be reminded often, I wanted to share this with you today, in hopes that it will encourage you as well.
Two Choices for the Frustrated Parent:
1. Lower your expectations.
I bet you didn’t think I was going to say that one, did you? 🙂 I know. I know. Usually I’m advocating for more training. (Don’t worry, we’ll cover that in point two!)
NOBODY thrives in an atmosphere of frustration or disapproval. You don’t like it, and neither does your spouse, but as adults, you have the freedom to speak clearly your needs to each other.
Your children, on the other hand, will absolutely wilt under a constant atmosphere of frustration.
Children crave and need parental approval for their growth. If you have a child who repetitively disobeys and seems to show no remorse for their disobedience, consider whether they have met with so much frustration that they have given up trying to please you.
If you’re going through your day continually frustrated or irritated with your children, the FIRST thing you might need to do is lower your expectations so your children can meet with your approval more easily.
What does this look like in real life? I’ll give a situation from our family to help illustrate this point:
- I will openly admit that I like to keep a neat home, with minimal clutter and everything in its place. Unfortunately, we have ten people living in a 359 sq. ft. travel trailer. 🙂 After moving into the trailer, I began getting really frustrated over the SHOES. Oh.my.goodness. I downsized continually, I organized the shoes into totes, I repeatedly taught my little ones to put their shoes away before entering the trailer…..BUT. Ten people, ya’ll. Even with only 2 or 3 pairs of shoes per person—it’s still TOO MANY SHOES. 🙂 No matter how hard we tried, someone would forget and take their shoes off in the house, or it would be late and too dark to put the shoes away, OR it would be raining and everyone would have to bring their shoes inside. Every single day, I was tripping over shoes, stepping over shoes, kicking shoes out the front door, nagging children about shoes, mumbling to myself about shoes, threatening to ban all shoes from the Bergey family forever. You get my point. The shoes were ruining my life, and I in turn was taking out my frustration on the people I love the most! 🙂 The truth was, I needed to lower my expectations for this one. We have alot of people in a small space (and sadly, we all need shoes!). I started expecting to see shoes all day long and stopped feeling so frustrated.
2. Increase your training.
If you see a dog who pees indoors, barks all day, runs away every time he gets out the door, jumps on everyone he meets, doesn’t come when called, scratches up the furniture, and chews on all the socks, do you blame the DOG or the OWNER?
The owner. He needs to train his dog in obedience!
In the same way, if you’re frustrated with your child, it is not the child’s fault.
It is YOUR fault for not training better.
Take the time to write down the things your children do that frustrate you the most, share them with your spouse, evaluate what you should lower your expectations on, then get busy training for the rest!
Here’s another personal illustration:
- We travel full-time, so some days, we’re out-and-about in public more than most families. That can equate to getting everyone unbuckled and out of the van frequently. I have to unbuckle the baby and gather the diaper bag, so my children are often exiting the vehicle alone. The youngest 5 inevitably begin to wander, usually exploring the nearby landscaping. My boys would touch the trees or climb on the rocks, or even start a game of tag! Now, this mama knows that they may have been sitting for a long time and have extra wiggles :), but not only is it frustrating to gather them all back together, it is also very dangerous in some parking lots to have little ones wandering. After multiple lectures over the dangers of parking lots AND the needed respect for company’s landscaping, we were still having issues. (It was additionally challenging for us, because we did understand why they were so quick to want to play.:) ) I began dreading getting everyone out of the van, and could feel my stress meter rising every time we had to get out! This is when we decided to increase the training and established the “white line rule”. Whenever my husband calls “white line!”, all the children must plant their feet on the white parking line right outside the van. They may move on the line but may not get off of it. We got in and out of the van OVER and OVER again, practicing and encouraging and teaching. This now works beautifully to keep our little ones safe and respectfully off the landscaping. 🙂
In this situation, increasing the training reduced my frustration.
Remember, if you’re feeling FRUSTRATED at your child, try one of these options: Lower your expectations until they can freely meet your approval, OR increase your training until they succeed with the appropriate behavior.
Now, what about you? What frustrates you and what are you doing about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts, either in the comments below OR on the Perspectives in Parenting Facebook Page! Blessings to you on YOUR parenting journey!