,You don’t become a parent because you think that at some point you will get so overwhelmed you’ll feel like giving in. It doesn’t occur to you that you and your child may not be the “best-of-friends” like you’ve always imagined in your head. Don’t let me spoil this for you, but you may actually spend the majority of your day butting heads with one another. Definitely not how I pictured motherhood, at all.
But, this is reality. And it hurts.
No mother, or parent, wants to argue with their children. You don’t want to feel like you are in a constant battle that seems to have no clear “winner”. And it doesn’t seem to get easier as they get older. Shocker, I know. Who ever heard of a moody teenager?!
My oldest is only 6 and, I can tell you right now, we fuss like she’s 13 going on 30.
And this terrifies me.
She is just like her father (ha, I know, easy to throw him under the bus – but I’m serious! She really is!). They are strong-willed, opinionated, and freely speak their mind.
Not me. I am more timid, reserved, and do not like confrontation. However, with my daughter I do not act like that at all. My mind goes into full blown OH-NO-SHE-DIDN’T mode (lol) when one of her spells comes on, which honestly seems like every time she opens her mouth…
All I can think about in those moments is that I surely would have NEVER spoken to my parents in that way and neither will she! But instead of understanding what is wrong with the situation and backing down, she argues her way through… at 6 (please note my sigh of desperation here).
Then I only get more frustrated, she continues to get agitated, and the cycle doesn’t end until we are both red in the face.
NOT how I pictured myself as a mother.
We eventually retreat, but nothing is solved.
Every time this happens, I know there is something I need to do- something I need to change- but I never really sat down to think about it. That is, until I hit my wall.
To be honest, I just couldn’t handle the fussing anymore.
I love my daughter with my whole heart and she is growing up so quickly. I don’t want my clearest memories to be of us arguing all the time.
We share snuggles, we giggle, we play, and we love- but we also bicker, a lot, and I wanted to change that.
So I began thinking and researching different ways/ideas/strategies I could use to help us move forward instead of remaining in a constant battle.
10 Ways to Restore Your Relationship
Ask them questions: “How are you feeling?” “What’s wrong right now?” “What is going through your mind?”
- By asking these questions you are doing two things: (1) you are redirecting them from their original “argumentative mode” by making them think and (2) you are making them describe their emotions- helping them gain understanding about why they are feeling a certain way. Talking through emotions can help your child stop and think about why they are acting/feeling a certain way. This gives the emotion a more tangible feeling, a feeling that now seems to be within their reach and solvable.
Tell your child that you want to be able to understand how they feel
- This is similar to number one, but it elaborates on the fact that you didn’t just ask the question to ask it. You genuinely want to know how they feel, help them, and overcome this emotion together. This helps them feel like they are not alone in tackling the issue.
Let them know that you love them no matter what emotion they are struggling with
- We all know what children, even adults, long for: unconditional love. And that’s what your relationship should be to them. They should know that no matter how they act, you will always love them. Your love is not a fleeting emotion that is based off of how you are feeling that day or how they are feeling. It is a love that doesn’t change, it will always be there for them- no matter what they may be struggling with, no matter how much you guys may fuss- you will always love them.
Explain to them that it’s okay to be upset (or any other emotion they are feeling)
- This idea is hard for them to grasp, especially if you are fussing back with them every time they are experiencing these emotions. It’s important to let them know that it is okay to be upset, everyone gets upset/mad. You do not want them to begin to bottle these emotions up, because we all know how that can end (explosion: 101). It is good to let them know that, at times, we all let our emotions consume our actions; but, it is how we handle ourselves afterwards that counts.
Hug it out
- I know this may be hard to do in the moment, especially if they are being SUPER wicked, but it’s one of the most important things you can do. Not only have you told them that you love them no matter what, but you are now showing them. In a moment where they are acting their worst (and maybe even you too), you’ve stopped to show them that it doesn’t matter. Plus, hugging has scientifically been proven to help reduce stress. So hug it out. Make it a good one. One that lasts (I’ve even read to hug until they draw back first, let them tell you when they are okay).
Ask them how you can help
- Just like letting them know you want to understand how they feel, this shows them that you truly care about their emotions and finding a solution. It also gets them thinking. They may not be able to tell you a way that you can help, but I guarantee they stop for at least a second to think about it. And they will realize that you want to help them, not just fuss with them.
- If your house is anything like mine, more than likely, this argument was a two way street – and don’t forget that. It is important to show them that you can own up and take responsibility for your actions, especially the unfavorable ones. This shows them that you can acknowledge your own flaws/mistakes and provides them with a good example of how to do so themselves. If you never apologize for things that you do wrong, how can you expect them to?
Let it go and start over
- Ask them if you guys can start over and not dwell on what happened. If you guys have been able to talk through some of the emotions, issues, and problems- move on. More than likely, the argument was not that big of a deal. It was something fueled by an emotion that you have, hopefully, by now been able to address. Move on. Don’t keep dragging them down through it.
- Just like the hug, a smile can go a long way. When you are able to smile at them after it all, it is able to reaffirm everything you’ve been telling them: your emotions are okay to have, I love you, and I’ll always be here for you. Plus, it shows them that you can move on. If you can go from angry to talking it through to smiling and hugging, then it provides them with the closure they need. Children are very visual. If you leave the conversation angry so will they.
Pray with them
- Before it is all said and done, if you can pray with them through it all, it can bring them the comfort they need. Not only may it help calm them down, but it will give them a good example of turning to Christ in a time of need, no matter how “small” the need may be. Even if you are just asking to help calm your heart, ease your mind, or provide you with wisdom: praying together after (or during) something like this gives them the example they need to learn to master this skill on their own. How awesome will it be when the day comes that they find themselves battling an emotion and instead of turning to you they immediately turn to Him for help and guidance, all on their own?!
Now, I don’t live in a fantasy world. I know these are not “quick fixes”. I also know that when you get caught up in the moment, it is hard to remember to do any of these things.
But, if you can remember a few of these steps and take a second to step back from the situation and examine it in a different light, I guarantee you will see a change.
These are not a cure-all for no more outbursts, because we have to remember: they are only human too. Even the best of adults let their emotions consume them every once in a while. It’s not our job to make them “perfect” because that is the most unrealistic expectation of all (ahem, no one is perfect).
But it is our job to love them unconditionally and to try the very best we can to raise them.