How to React in a Biblical Way When My Kids Are Driving Me Crazy
- Heather Riggleman Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2021 4 Jan
It’s Saturday evening and I’ve decided to plot my getaway because my kids are driving me crazy, bonkers, up the wall, losing my marbles, type of crazy. They can’t be in the same room, nor breathe the same air and they’re supposed to be cleaning up the kitchen.
Instead, Elijah is splashing Tori with water and she’s smacking her brother while screaming my name for rescue. In between shrieks and dishes flying, they’re bickering and yelling my name will help me choose their side. I’ve opted at this point to have them call me, Heather instead of Mom.
I come to the kitchen for the billionth time to warn them. Elijah rounds the counter and decides to pick me up again for the millionth time that day. Why do 14-year-old boys do this? I am annoyed, irritated, and frustrated that he can carry me around the house and there is nothing I can do about it until he tosses me on the couch. Once again, moments like this make me contemplate what on earth was I thinking birthing these two 24 months apart.
The way these two fuss and bicker would put Jacob and Esau to shame. Before I realize what’s happening, I’m back in the kitchen grabbing the sprayer from my son and dousing not only my two rascally offspring but the entire kitchen. My kids look at each other and then at me as if I have grown two heads when Tori says to her brother, “Back away nice and easy bro, she’s nuts.” It’s official, I am on the crazy train, and they looked at me like I was Darth Vader himself, incarnate.
What Do You Do When Your Child Is Driving You Crazy?
I’m guessing I’m not the only mom out there with kids who make me feel crazy. So, what’s a mom to do? Parenthood is no easy task. Family life is full of challenges. It was designed that way. God created the family unit as the center formation for us to learn how to love, teach, forgive and to live selfless lives. After all, we’ve been tasked with raising functioning adults that represent our version of Christ here on earth.
The Bible has a lot to say about how we parent our kids because it’s a love letter from God to his children. We need to heed the command of Deuteronomy 6:7-9 regarding teaching our children to do the same. This passage emphasizes the ongoing nature of such instruction. It should be done at all times—at home, on the road, at night, and in the morning. Biblical truth should be the foundation of our homes. Discipline and instruction are integral parts of being a good parent. Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him,” but we are not to exasperate our kids either, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4. By following the principles of these commands, we teach our children God’s ways, not our crazy triggers.
Despite my Darth Vader moment, these are the moments when God—and even subconsciously our children‑are trying to tell us through this craziness—primarily, the fact that they need our attention. I think that one is obvious enough. But we also need to step outside of the moment and figure out why we are losing our cool. As I cleaned up my kitchen, I realized I had given my control and power to my kids. Why? Emotions. If you need your child to behave for you to be calm, then you give your child tremendous power. They now control your emotions, and you feel overwhelmed and powerless. You will be much more effective as a parent if you can stay calm no matter what.
If Jesus can stay calm with bickering disciples, casting out demons, telling Martha to chill like her sister Mary, face diabolical Pharisees plotting his death, put Satan in his place with no food for 40 days, and even awake from a nap to calm a raging storm, then we, as parents, can also remain calm.
What Do You Do When Your Child Is Driving You Crazy?
“Calm?! How am I supposed to be calm when my child doesn’t do what I say, talks back, picks me up like a rag doll or has a bad attitude?”
It all boils down to outlook, attitude, and keeping our eyes on the target: raising good little humans. Here are a few ways to react in a biblical way to keep your sanity when your kids are driving you crazy.
Choose Your Thoughts
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5
Before kids, I took pride when my friends said I was easygoing and relaxed. But then I became a mom. So how do we honor Jesus and set an example for our kids when:
All we want to do is yell and scream, or run away?
We have no idea how to handle that child?
The demands at work, at home and at church seem never-ending?
We check our thoughts. Our thoughts are connected to our behavior and our feelings. If we want to change how we feel (crazy, frustrated, overwhelmed) or change our behavior (yelling at our kids, spraying the entire kitchen), we do this by changing our thoughts.
When we take a step back and analyze our thoughts, we may realize many of our thoughts aren’t helpful or rational. When I start to feel frustrated about all the bickering or the “I’m bored” talk, I notice my thoughts are negative. Instead of focusing on the negative, I try to reframe the situation. Whether it’s preventative measures that help curb the behaviors before they happen or things you can do in the moment, think about it.
It’s a good example to set as you take a self-analysis and identify what is going on inside of you. Don’t let your big feelings reach a boiling point. Take a few moments before you reach your breaking point to refresh and reset.
Choose Problem-Solving Mode Instead of Reacting
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” Matthew 18:15-18.
We will get frustrated. We will get mad. We will feel crazy. The strategy here is to choose problem solving strategies instead of reacting with our emotions. My lifeline of a friend and podcast co-host Lori Wildenbergand I talk about her “Big Bad Mad” strategy in our Moms Together Podcast but you don’t have to be mad to implement the steps we discuss. These tools can be used when you’re feeling crazy, tired, frustrated, etc. You can also find all the tips on Lori’s website. As a licensed, parent consultant, she recommends two ways to help us go into problem solving mode:
“Remind yourself of your child’s age
“My child is _____ years old. I am_____ years old.” Kids think, talk and reason like kids. We need to think, talk and reason like an adult. “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (mom), I put the ways of my childhood behind me” 1 Corinthians 13:11.
“Develop a rage interrupter
This is a ‘go to’ reaction one implements to halt the mad so the problem can be addressed. This stops the big emotion. One dad told me his rage interrupter was to bite his finger. Another mom mentioned she recites Scripture. I like humor so I close my eyes and visualize myself doing a silent scream (NOTE: this is not done to mock this is only something I see. This picture in my mind’s eye helps me work out of my brain rather than my feelings)”
Choose to Understand - Behavior Is Communication
Sometimes, all we see is the aggression, sass, tantrums, or disrespect. But what if we looked at our kids as if they were the Titanic about to go down. What is going on under the surface that we don’t see? Often, their behavior is a signal that something deeper is going on under the surface and we are only seeing and taking in the tip of the iceberg. What we don’t see is: feeling overstimulated, loneliness, self-esteem issues, change, COIVD-19 fatigue, need for attention, anxiety, etc.
Whatever may be happening at the moment, like getting chores done, homework, or being bored, stop what you’re doing and just listen. Find a way to connect, the chores and everything else can wait. Once you’ve had a chance to understand what is going on under the surface, you can focus on the fruit of the spirit as a way to be a soothing slave to their little souls...and your own.
The next time my kids are driving me crazy (like, in 10 minutes), my first response is to focus on myself. How am I feeling, what is the trigger here and then respond accordingly. Remember to stay calm and carry on.
Additional Parenting Resources to Help You Keep Your Cool
These resources provide strategies that help you gain confidence and perspective with Biblically based tools to put into practice.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Deagreez
Heather Riggleman is a believer, wife, mom, author, social media consultant, and full-time writer. She lives in Minden, Nebraska with her kids, high school sweetheart, and three cats who are her entourage around the homestead. She is a former award-winning journalist with over 2,000 articles published. She is full of grace and grit, raw honesty, and truly believes tacos can solve just about any situation. You can find her on GodUpdates, iBelieve, Crosswalk, Hello Darling, Focus On The Family, and in Brio Magazine. Connect with her at www.HeatherRiggleman.com or on Facebook.