MotherWise Q & A: Frustrated With Children's Behavior
- Friday, April 18, 2003
I am a mother of two boys, ages 5 and 4, and a daughter who is 2. My daughter is pretty much compliant and yet a typical 2 year old. My boys, whom I love so dearly, will not ever mind me! I cannot remember the last time I could go without punishment of these two for any length of time.
It does not matter what it the situation, they just refuse to mind me. It is horrible. I have tried spankings (never when I am frustrated), I take things away, and I just do not know what else to do.
Then there is trying to go somewhere. They refuse to stay with me. They run and hide and scream and yell to the point of shrill blood curdling screams and everyone in the store looks at me. I could just bawl! In fact, I am crying right now because I do not know what to do. Nothing seems to help, not rewards for good behavior or punishment for incorrect behavior.
My husband is supportive of me and tries to discipline as well, but they do not listen to him either. However, they do listen to him better than me.
I recently quit my two-day a week job that I loved to be at home with the kids more and so they would not have to go to a sitter. I was hoping this would help things, being without the pressure of a high stress job and more time to spend with the kids. Lately, I have begun to wish I were full time so that I would not have to deal with them. I feel so wrong for thinking that.
It has gotten so bad that at night I scream with all my might in my house to let the frustration go, and then I just cry because I know that it scares my kids. But I do not know what to do with this frustration! I must be a terrible mother, because I cannot seem to get anything to work and I can't seem to get a handle on my frustration. I just feel at my wits end. I do not know what to do anymore. What am I to do? I am desperate for help.
Oh my dear friend. I hear you! Your heart's cry has reached me, but more importantly, it has reached the ears of the Father. He hears and understands. I'm sorry you're having such a hard time. I will pray for you and I will try to help.
First, are you a believer in Jesus Christ and have you asked Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior? If not, that is the starting place. Please write back and I'll explain more about that. If you already are in relationship with Christ, then He is inside you to live His life through you. That means you have the life of Christ in you to enable you for your every day tasks of mothering.
I encourage you to stop now, kneel where you are and pray something like this: "Lord Jesus, I ask that You fill me with Your life and Your presence. I'm running on empty and I need You. I bind my mind to Your mind and my heart to Your heart. Please fill my life with Your life. Speak through my mouth, love through my hands, and allow Your thoughts to flow into my mind. Lord, set me free from wrong thinking and ideas, wrong attitudes and patterns of thought about training my children. Jesus, please deal with my children through me. I cannot do this alone. I ask this in Jesus' holy name. Amen."
Now, I would talk to my 5 year old in a knee-cap-to-knee-cap session (get down to his eye level) when the two of you can be alone. I would tell him that things are going to change. There is one new rule in the house: "Listen to my voice and obey." That's it. It is simple and easy to understand. Tell him the consequences if he does not obey the next time you tell him to do something. Then practice with him.
Say something like, "Okay, you go into the other room and I'm going to call you to come to me. As soon as you hear my voice, you come running. Okay? Ready, set, go to the other room (listen very carefully). Son, come here!" You should hear pitter-patter of feet running to you. If not, practice again. "NO, son. You didn't come. Try it again," Continue on like this. But when he comes the first time he's called, really praise him.
Concentrate just on your oldest for a week or so to train him to obey your voice. Be very careful only to ask him to do one very simple thing at a time. Don't confuse him with too many instructions given at once or too close together to obey. Give him one instruction, and expect him to obey. Praise him grandly when he does. The two little ones will be watching.... obedience is catching!
Tell him how proud you are of him when he obeys. Call Dad at work when he obeys and let him tell Dad. Call grandparents. Make a big deal of it.
Take one little tiny step at a time. You may also want to try to get your husband more involved as well, since you say that they listen to him better than they listen to you. Train one child in discipline until it is mastered. Then add a little more until he is basically obedient. Then go to work on the four year old.
You are not a horrible mom. Many moms have been right where you are and have felt the same way that you feel. You are just a mom who needs to tap into the Vine life of Jesus and let His fruit grow in you, His patience, love and self-control.
You are going to make it. Just pour out your heart to Jesus Christ. Give him the reins of your family and trust Him to take them and bring this galloping runaway horse under control.
Many prayers and blessings,
Reprinted with permission from MouseCalls, a newsletter published by MotherWise ministries. Click here to visit MotherWise.
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