There’s an attitude problem in our house, and it’s mine. I let parenting rob my joy. Oh sure, my kids are copping an attitude around the home too, and there are a couple pieces of advice for dealing directly with them. However, what I really feel changed the environment in our home were choices and changes that I had to make as a mom.
Things had gone a bit down hill for us. In ways, I let things slide as a mom. Being “on” all the time is challenging. Dying to myself and my own desires and taking time to really teach, train and discipline can get exhausting. I have one child in particular who likes to control and can be emotionally intense, and I let that wear me down too. I became frustrated, impatient and didn’t smile as much with my kids.
One of the problems with me is I wear my heart on my sleeve. I was irritated, and they knew it. I think there was part of me that believed if they could see I was annoyed with them they’d want to change their actions to make things more pleasant around here. Guess what! That didn’t work. The more frustrated I became in action and behavior, the more attitude problems I was getting from them. Shocking, right? OK – Not so shocking, but it wasn’t necessarily intuitive that I had to make so many changes in how I respond to them.
How to Change Attitude Problems in Your Home
To change the attitude problems in my home, I had to change myself. What does that look like? I want to let you know the changes I had to make to alter the temperature of our family environment. I made changes to myself personally, but I also made parenting changes that directly impacted the attitude of my children. I am so thankful that I have the Pritchards as close friends and role models because Kelli was able to talk me through some things and point me in the right direction to make changes that would positively impact my family.
- Change WHAT You Say – I had to change the things I said to my kids. I had to change what I said even if I didn’t really feel it. Love is a choice. Before, we would be rushing to get the kids to school in the morning. I was literally shoving them out the door with a sigh of relief. I had to change that. In the morning, I still get them out the door, but I now excitedly say, “I’m going to miss you. Hurry home so we can spend time together after school.” When I pick them up in the afternoon I say, “I am so happy to see you. I missed you. I’m so glad we get to be together this afternoon.” My words throughout the day had to change as well. So often we are giving our child direction and correction. I had to add more words of encouragement and build them up with words of affirmation. Even in hard times, I needed to correct them with words like, “I love you so much that I need to teach this to you so that life can become better for you.” I needed to speak character qualities into them. “I see you are wanting that all to yourself. You are normally so generous. I’m sure you will share soon.” My whole dialect had to change to show my kids that I love them, even when they’re being stinkers.
- Change HOW You Say It – Another change I made was how I spoke to my kids. I am not a huge yeller, but I think I had fallen into that some, and it needed to stop. Also, even though I’m not yelling , I talk intensely and with annoyance. My voice is dark and frustrated rather than full of joy and patience. I needed to begin to talk brighter. Parenting can’t be smiles and sunshine all the time. It just isn’t. Your kids will need to know you are serious. However, it doesn’t need to escalate like I had let it. I needed to return to teaching in a calm, gentle voice. My children mimic me. I know when I become intense and frustrated they throw it right back in my face. When I talk calmly, I am more likely to get a calm response, even if the words are voicing anger or frustration. I didn’t like the way my children were talking to me, but it really was a reflection of how I was choosing to voice my own feelings.
- Don’t Engage in the Battle – I have a couple children who want to control things around here. One child in particular wants to control and negotiate. She is super smart and so tries to talk circles around us. She uses our words against us and tries to twist things to her liking. I started to engage. I wanted her to see truth. I wanted her to understand my perspective. Every time things weren’t going her way, she would try and manipulate the situation to her advantage. Every time she was in the wrong, she would try and twist it to make it someone else’s fault. She bumped her head on her bunk bed once and proclaimed in an angry voice, “It’s your fault because you bought me this bunk bed.” The engagement with her drama had to stop. I didn’t need to negotiate. I didn’t need to explain. I couldn’t let her manipulate. If an argument escalated it was because I allowed it. I needed to disengage and just let my “yes” be my “yes” and my “no” be my “no.” It comes down to the fact that I’m the mom, and she is the kid. I’ve been given this role. This one change I made really impacted the way we responded to one another. One person has a hard time fighting if the other person does not engage.
- Adopt the Phrase “Try that Again” – “Try that again” is a phrase I have talked about in the past. It works wonder with kids and attitude problems. A bad attitude manifests itself not only in the words that are said but how they are said. Therefore, if there are issues with either, we say the phrase, “Try that again.” If my kids respond to me in a sassy way, “Try that again.” If I am given a scowl as they pick up their jacket on the floor, I will make them put the jacket back on the floor and cheerfully say, “Try that again.” They get really tired of trying it again. One of my daughter’s ends up laughing after her 4th try, and it diffuses the situation.
- Pray More – This is something I admit I have to do more. I do pray for my kids, but I find the more I pray for them the more my attitude toward them changes. I become more full of compassion and love for them. Something I find powerful is to pray on their beds when they are not around. Let’s face it, our kids can get on our nerves. However, with God’s help we can grow in our enjoyment, love and care for them.
- Be Present – I find that my attitude problem as well as my poor parenting skills come when I have my own agenda. I might be in my own world mentally – thinking through a blog post I have in mind, planning an activity for a child’s class or going over my to-do list. Distraction can come in many forms, and I know I am guilty of all of it. I do believe kids need to know that they are not the center of the universe, but I have found that my own attitude changes when I am more present in the role of being their mom. We have been given such an important job in raising our children. It is when we fill our minds and our lives with all the other distractions that our attitude often changes to frustration. I believe it is because the kids are getting in the way of our personal agenda. The days were I am more engaged in being a mom are the days where my attitude seems the best, so that remains a goal.
Is there an attitude problem in your home? Are you starting to think that maybe some of the problem stems from you? I know that I am still convicted as I write this. These are still things I am working on in my own life. However, I can say that there came a point in time a few months back that I made all of the changes above very intentionally, and things have changed. When I am off on these 6 components of parenting, I see my kids start to slide as well. These are choices I need to continue to make daily. I know that it can be exhausting to have to be “on” like this all the time. However, I have found it more exhausting when I don’t adhere to these parenting concepts. I hope they are helpful to you too.
Here are a couple encouraging books that will help you navigate some of your own attitude problems in parenting (Affiliate links provided for your convenience):