Staying patient and calm when your children are misbehaving is hard! There is nothing more irritating than listening to one of your kids taunting, teasing, or picking on a sibling. Or doing something that you expressly told him not to do. Oh and don’t forget the times when you give an instruction that is totally ignored as soon as your ‘rebellious one’ is out of earshot. Or maybe for you, it’s the rolled eyes, whiny voice, or messy room that puts you over the edge.
If you find your blood pressure is rising, your lips getting tight and you’re mentally winding up to let them have it, you are not alone. I’ve been there and so many others.
6 Secrets For Staying Patient & Calm When Your Children Are Misbehaving
How do you stay calm when a child is misbehaving? To keep from losing it, I’m going to let you in on six secrets for staying patient and calm that have served me well over the homeschooling and mothering years. I hope they’ll help you, too.
Keep in mind with all of these things that as parents, it’s vital that we train ourselves to focus on the big picture. Yes, we are mired in the little things and the day-to-day. But we have to remember that we are discipling our children every day. We are raising them to be godly generations that honor the Lord. We are their models.
We are also sinners, just like them. But as daughters of the King, we have been forgiven.
No matter how many times we mess up and struggle with impatience, organization, balancing our roles and workload – we are enough in God’s eyes, just as we are. We can’t perform any better to make God love us any more than He already does.
Keep that in mind and it will automatically help you have the right frame of mind when dealing with your children. You can learn to extend to them that same grace. Preach the gospel to yourself regularly, as well as to your kids.
Ok, back to how to stay calm with your child. Here are the secrets I promised from almost 30 years of mothering and over half as many homeschooling:
Stop and address the difficult behavior
Don’t wait until you are about to explode before you do something about a misbehaving child. It took me the longest time to figure out that when I was angry, it was generally because I was no longer in control. (I’m talking about with younger children here.) I would get angry because my child had taken the reigns. For that moment in time, he or she was calling the shots. (Uh…no.) Not the way it is designed to be.
Even when you are busy teaching a math lesson or trying to get a meal on the table, learn to stop and deal with the difficult behavior. A little problem, while you are still calm and in control of your emotions, is more easily controlled before it becomes a bigger problem.
Implement calm parenting techniques
Do everything you can to remain a calm parent. Practice calm parenting techniques when you are not upset and implement them when you are. These are a couple of go to’s:
- Take ten slow, deep, extend-your-belly-breaths
- Walk outside for a bit
Put into practice whatever it takes to help you speak calmly and quietly rather than ranting and raving. By doing this, you will de-escalate the situation instead of ramping it up. When you react peacefully and calmly, your children feel more secure and can calm down more easily as well.
Remain calm and assess the situation
Take a step back and use this little formula I just made up
- Remove your child from danger or Redirect your toddler from doing something harmful.
- Distract your toddler. For example, distract away from an electrical outlet. After a firm “no”, then redirect her attention elsewhere.
- Stay calm. Use your inside voice. Take a few minutes and talk with the offender to find out what’s going on with your misbehaving one.
Look what’s behind the difficult behavior
Sometimes kids don’t even mean to be misbehaving. They are tired, hungry or they need attention. This is generally applicable to younger children, but it can even apply to older ones.) Hopefully, by the time they are in elementary school, they’re actively learning to be aware of how they are feeling. You want them to be able to tell you about it rather than just acting out. (“Use your words!”)
Calmly ask them a few questions about how they are feeling. You might be surprised at how simply a problem is solved and things can return to a more peaceful state.
When I had an infant and a 3.5-year old I remember my oldest sometimes getting into things. I finally figured out that she needed a little attention. I taught her to tell me that when she was feeling that way and it made all the difference!
Being able to dialogue about it helped me to stay patient and calm and respond appropriately. Even if it was just with a quick hug, it helped her to understand that I still loved her. She learned that sometimes she had to wait just a bit before I could spend more time with her.
Help your children recognize how they are feeling and give them the words to express it
This is truly a gift that will relieve everyone’s stress. It will draw you closer, and will be like money in the bank when your child becomes older. You will have tools for staying patient and calm during those more complicated issues of middle school and beyond.
Maybe a sullen child in the afternoon is reacting to a harsh comment from the morning. Perhaps this needs to be addressed and apologized for, but you might never know this unless you ask. And by the way, you will be doing a lot of apologizing during your homeschool years. This is a good thing! Humbling yourself and being honest about your own mistakes is about the best modeling your child can receive!
The best time to extend grace to your children is when they don’t deserve it
Please hear me now – I am not suggesting that you overlook misbehavior. Don’t tell your child you forgive him before he’s admitted his fault and asked you to. I’m just saying that in the heat of the moment, it’s better to let a child (especially an older one) stew a little bit on their own. This can be much more effective than meeting her poor tone of voice with a “how dare you talk to me that way?” Even though you would like to and think she deserves it.
Let everyone simmer down, and then talk to her about it. You are still dealing with the situation. You are just waiting until everyone’s emotions aren’t on red alert. Waiting often solves that problem.
Sometimes, waiting instead of reacting results in an even better outcome. A tender-hearted child may end up coming to you and apologizing for the infraction without you needing to say a thing. Let her conscience work on her first.
How to stay calm in stressful parenting situations
Being a mom, especially a homeschooling mom is not an easy task. But take the long view. Keep in mind that these years really go by pretty quickly. This will help you commit to staying patient & calm when your children are misbehaving. You can do it! Not perfectly, but as you practice these skills, you will get better.
Need more parenting help and practical tips? Check out these books:
- Shepherding a Child’s Heart, by Tedd Tripp
- Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety: Becoming a Woman of Faith and Confidence, by Elyse Fitzpatrick’
- Making Children Mind without Losing Yours, by Dr. Kevin Lehman
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Carole P. Roman is the award-winning author of over fifty children’s books. Whether it’s pirates, princesses, and spies, or discovering the world around us, her books have enchanted educators, parents, and her diverse audience of children. From toddler to teen, Carole has a book for everyone to enjoy and learn.
This is a guest post written by Dana Wilson of Train up a Child Publishing. Mom of young adults, Dana learned a lot, mostly about herself, by homeschooling from Kindergarten through High School. Now she offers literature-based, Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschool curriculum as well as a helpful hand to homeschooling mommas through the Train up a Child Publishing blog. Drop in and say hello there or on her Facebook page.