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):
Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
Jodi, the Lord’s timing always amazes me! I was literally praying last night about being more gentle and encouraging with my kids and in general! God used you to speak life to me today and I praise Him for that! Everything you have written is something I needed to read. I pray we both make progress as mommies leading our little ones.Thank you and God bless!
Thank you so much for these encouraging words. Parenting is just hard, and I am so glad I could inspire and that God might be using me despite…well, me. I am just so glad that this has been a blessing to you today! Thanks for writing.
hi,jodi, this post means so much for me.
I’m so glad! I was really hoping this post could help make a difference for people. This parenting thing is the most humbling experience.
Thank you. I have been thinking about my responses to my kids, my attitude to life in general and have been finding myself wanting more. More life, fun and joy and less annoyance and frustration. This post hit hard but gave me real choices and reactions, a way to actually change my behaviour, a new response. I want to connect with Jesus more and through Him change my view of the world. This post gives me real hope and strategies for the future to achieve my goals of happy, well adjusted children who love God and life and each other. Thank you for your honesty.
Thank you so much for being real here. This was a post that definitely was on my heart and needed to happen, and I was really hoping that I had people connect with it and be inspired. I know how much I struggle, and how I’m constantly needing to try and make changes in myself. What a humbling process! I am so thankful that you commented.
Thank you for this article! Like others, this comes at a pointed time for me, too. Our job as a parent is indeed a hard one, and lately I’ve been thinking about how unpresent and disengaged I feel in my children’s lives. Admittedly, technology has played a big role in that (phones, tvs, you name it) in addition to the increasing demands of being a working parent. Life is chaotic and I get so wrapped up in planning vs. living it. Daily! It’s tiring and exhausting and I, too, wear my emotions on my sleeves a lot. I needed a reality check and some guidance to get back to some basics in child-rearing so that my little loves can be the great little people they are meant to be. Thank you for you sharing your wisdom and the growing pains in such a real way.
Thank you so much for commenting on this article. I’m wanting to keep it real, and it’s great to connect with my readers in this way. I hope this has been an encouragement to you. It does take a lot of work, but I really believe that my kids to better when I’m handling it better. Blessings on your journey.
Thank you so much. ^_^ I needed this. I’m a divorced mom, going through a stressful time at work, also going through a stressful time with my daughter. I haven’t had a day to myself since late January; all days have been filled with work or the kid (who is emotionally intense, gifted, and extroverted–I’m a sensitive introvert, and it’s hard to be around so much intensity!) I will be pinning, re-reading, meditating, and concentrating on what I say and how I say it.
Thank you so much for writing and sharing your story. Sounds like you have so many layers that would contribute to struggling to keep the right attitude. It’s hard no matter what, so I applaud you for wanting to do well despite all the challenges you face. Hang in there! Our kids sounds similar, and it can be draining. Love your heart through it though.
I like the “Try that again” idea. I’ll need to use this when my daughter gets older. I also like your idea to not engage. Thanks for these parenting ideas.
Thank you so much. “Try that again” has definitely been a phrase that has transformed my parenting. I’m so glad you found this helpful!
I just found this blog post today through Pinterest, and it was an answer to my prayers. I have been struggling so much lately! One of my children has been acting out even more than usual lately and I have been at my wits end. But through reading this, I realize that I have been going through my own personal struggles lately and I am not doing as good as I should be. Thank you for giving me some direction and specific things I need to focus on to make things better!
Thank you so much for commenting. Parenting can just be so challenging!! I would love to hear a report back when you have made some adjustments. My kids are such a reflection of me, and I know when I am sliding because I see it in their reactions. Blessings on your journey. I really appreciate you stopping by and reflecting on this!
This is greatness. I love the “let your yes be yes….” I have had to consciously decide to have a better attitude with my step-daughter. She’s 12, I’ve been around since she was 9. I have said often, “She has only-child syndrome.” No offense to those that don’t come down with this illness…It’s totally parenting thing. But I raised 3 kids and there is a big difference in my kids’ and her attitudes. She’s learning the world doesn’t revolve around her and yet we still love her and I am learning patience. I also tell her dad, “let her be mad at you! She’s still your kid. She will get over it. It won’t change her love at all!”
Thanks so much for commenting. I imagine being the step-mom is hard. Patience, I’ve found, is going to be a life-long lesson in this parenting thing. I’m so glad this post resonated with you. Discovering where a bit part of the issue originated has been a transforming thing in our family. I’m still working on it. 🙂
Whoa! I’ve been praying for God to change my stony heart. . . then I find this. I was reading it out loud to my husband and he ask if I had written it. Parenting is truly a challenge. I’ve raised 3, started over with adoption and I’m finding it can not be done without divine intercession. . . the one thing I need more of.
I love all of your ideas. Thank you for your honesty and obedience in reporting this. Tomorrow is a new day. I will start renewed with these ideas and with prayer!
What an encouraging note to receive this morning. Thank you so much for telling me how this post is impacting you. Parenting is hard!! I need to re-read post sometimes as my own reminder. Thank you so much for stepping into the role of a forever family for your new one. My closest friend as well as many other people I know have adopted, and I know how it presents its own series of challenges. I wish you many blessings on your journey, and I hope you’ll stick around my blog for more honesty and encouragement.
Wow! I found this on Pinterest today. I read the title and instantly thought of my oldest. She sounds a lot like one of your children. But as I started reading the article, realized how much it has to do with me. That can be hard to hear but I am the adult and have to set the tone. The first two paragraphs sound like you’ve been peering into my home. Thank you for sharing this and I’m so glad you didn’t shy away from writing about prayer and needing to rely on God to help us with raising our children. I want my parental joy back and need to try to incorporate some of your tips with God’s help.
So glad you found my article, and I really hope you’ll stick around for more encouragement. Being a parent is so hard, and it’s just a look in the mirror. I’m pretty sure God didn’t give me easy kids because He had a lot more work to do on me. Thank you so much for commenting! I’m glad you are here.
Any tips on how to disengage? This post hits home with my 10 yr old. Alot of his issues stem from the divorce bw his dad n I. And since it’s a nasty fight (that his dad put him in the middle) he has some residual resentment and bad attitude. I take blame for my bad attitude, and the effects on him.
That’s really hard. You’ve got an added layer to navigate. I’m sorry you are going through it right now. How I disengage from the battle is I say, in a calm way, something along the lines of, “I want to talk about this and hear your voice, but I am going to wait until you are calm and can talk to me in a way that is productive.” I’ll then give her some time to get it together so we can engage in a healthy way. If she is wanting to argue with me about something I’ve already said no to, I’ll just say, “I’m not changing my answer. We are done talking about this.” I simply won’t engage in that conversation anymore. Here’s a post I wrote about teaching kids how to do a rebuttal: https://meaningfulmama.com/2012/04/day-111-tip-teach-reasonable-method-for.html. I think you want to remain approachable but in control. For me, it all depends on the child’s attitude and willingness to work with me in the approach. If they’re in it for the argument, I’m all done. With the divorce, I don’t know if you have him in counseling so that he can work through his anger and resentment in the situation, but I’d make sure I’d try and equip him with a third party too. I hope that helps.
Thank you for this post! I have the child who likes to argue and spin things around to her own advantage just as you mentioned. I have often found myself in the middle of an argument thinking…why am I talking about this? I have already been doing some of these things and will try more. Thanks
I was just thinking about this post 5 minutes ago because I’m back in some old habits that I’m trying to correct. Thanks so much for commenting. I’m glad it was encouraging!
Wow. Every single thing you touched on here, is exactly me lately. Your words are exactly what I needed to be reminded of. Thank you ❤️ thank you for the encouragement.
You are welcome. I have to visit this concept often. It’s so easy to fall back into old patterns. My kids respond so much better when I’m responding well. I’m glad that this was helpful for you!
Exactly what I needed at a difficult time when I was feeling like no one understood. Sometimes I forget that, while I don’t/can’t have control over everything, I can make small changes in the way I approach the world.
I’m so glad this post resonated with you and might help. It’s a post I have to go back and mentally visit a lot. I keep reminding myself to fix my attitude. I guess it’s a lifetime of refinement. 😉 Thanks for commenting.