Discuss how when we say things in anger, we can hurt others by our unkind and thoughtless words. This is why the Bible says, “The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire” (James 3:5 NLT). Talk about how even small words can set off big emotions, how an unkind word can cause someone to cry, and how a kind and gentle word can make someone’s day.
Watch “Stay Sweet.” This video features ideas of what to do when faced with a situation where it could be easy to lose one’s temper.
Memorize the verse “A gentle answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV). You can help your children write this verse in their notebooks or somewhere easily visible throughout the day.
Read “Love Focuses on the Good.” Do the action on the last page of this article.
Watch “I Get Along with My Brother.” Brainstorm ways to resolve common conflicts that arise with your child. It may be good to discuss how when you are feeling angry or upset, that probably isn’t the best time to try to talk to the friend or peer causing the upset. Waiting till one is calmer, or talking about one’s feelings with a parent or teacher can also help to set things right.
Read “How Do We Love Others?” Do the action on the last page of this article.
Adapted from My Wonder Studio
Instead of starting a sentence with that provocative word “no,” start a sentence with a word that gives you a chance to be heard—”yes.” Then follow up your yes by making your point in a positive way.
(Evonne Weinhaus and Karen Friedman. Stop Struggling with Your Child. Harper Collins Publishers. 1998)
The yes method doesn’t mean you’re wishy-washy, and it doesn’t mean you always allow your child to get her way. Everyone wins with the yes method. If the yes method sounds like something you need to cultivate, then start practicing the “yes-but” reply.
“Yes, you may play outdoors, but you must wear a heavy jacket and only stay out 45 minutes.”
“Yes, you can read books during naptime, but first you need to finish your lunch.”
“Yes, you may watch the video, but first you need to help me with the dishes.”
…Parents say no to their children’s requests much more often than they say yes. Without thinking and for no good reason, the no just tumbles out!
So for the creative parent, here’s a good rule to follow: If you don’t want your children pouting and nagging you into changing your mind, only say no when you are absolutely sure that you mean no and won’t under any circumstances change your mind.
(Dr. Kay Kuzma. A Hug and a Kiss—And a Kick in the Pants!)
By Michael G. Conner, Psy.D,
Children not only learn from what they do, but they also learn from what they see their parents doing. Realizing this can be important because many parents express their conflicts and disagreements in front of their children. Consider the following before you disagree, argue, or start a conflict in front of your children.
The emotional bonds formed between parents and children cause children to notice and adopt the values, attitudes, and behavior of their parents. Children trust, imitate, and try to pay attention to the people they bond with. But unlike adults, children tend to absorb the perspective of both parents directly. They do so with little hesitation and without experience.
When parents express their conflicts, the psychological impact on children can produce uncertainty, emotional instability, erratic thinking, and hyperactivity. While many children are not affected by mild disagreements, some children are more sensitive and prone to act on the basis of confused feelings. How do children cope with conflicted parental views of what is right or wrong? The answer is, “They don’t do it very well.”
The impact of disagreements and conflicts will vary as children get older. But what many parents don’t realize is that children will begin to ignore their parents’ wishes, values, and attitudes when their parents argue and express their conflicts in their presence. Children tend to think, “If my parents can’t agree, then I guess I’m free to believe and do whatever I want.” Both parents lose credibility when they argue in front of children.
Imitation of parental behavior is the most frustrating consequence of parent conflicts and disagreements. Children not only imitate their parents’ behavior, but they tend to engage in competitive escalation. They try to outdo their parents. In this way, children learn to express themselves with a similar tone, volume, pitch, and rate. This explains why so many children end up acting like the very parent they have conflicts with.
[One main] cause of conflicts and disagreements is the failure of parents to discuss their approach to parenting before the need arises. Very few parents discuss how to handle problems until they are facing a problem. A proactive approach to parenting is far more effective than a reactive response to problems.
— Don’t discuss parenting issues in front of your child until both parents have talked about them and resolve the issues in private. Avoid expressing your disapproval of the other parent’s position or comments in front of a child.
— Settle on a parenting approach that you will both support. It does not help if you agree on an approach in order to avoid an argument and then don’t support each other later.
— Decide what you expect from your children before they raise issues that would result in a parental disagreement or conflict.
By William and Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D., Web reprint
All parents occasionally become angry with each other in the presence of their young children, but if you manage to maintain a reasonably pleasant atmosphere until you are alone, you will spare your child from dealing with relationship complexities for which he is developmentally unprepared.
However, if, in spite of your best intentions, a quarrel breaks out in front of your son, stop the hostilities as soon as you can and reassure your son by saying, “We’re sorry we upset you—we know it’s hard for you when we argue. Mommy and Daddy love each other even when we fight, and we both love you all the time!”
There is a popular but mistaken notion that “real life” unpleasantness will strengthen the character of the young. In reality, their developmental immaturity prevents young children from defending themselves against the emotional pain they feel when things go wrong. So parental arguments and other painful events leave young children more—rather than less—vulnerable to stress.
On the other hand, if you do shield your son from distressing experiences in general, and especially from the pain of witnessing you and your spouse fighting, over time he will learn to develop an abiding optimism about his world and his ability to have the harmony and love that he wants and needs. As he grows older, this positive outlook will give him the strength and resilience to respond effectively to the challenges of everyday life.
So the next time you feel angry in your child’s presence, try to remember that what feels like an everyday blowup to you feels like a nuclear explosion to him, and do your best to contain your anger until you are alone. It will be easier if you realize that in this way you nourish your son’s emotional well-being as surely as you care for his physical health by keeping him out of the street and away from the stove.
“Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”