“I just need you to sit down and be quiet for five minutes!”
The words spewed out of my mouth before I could stop them. They came from the deepest part of my tired mama soul, and once they started they just kept coming. It wasn’t so much the words—it was how I said them, how I screamed them at my daughter.
I will never forget the look in her eyes that day. The moment I saw her face was the moment I knew I was wrong. My oldest backed away from me as I yelled at her, she was afraid of her mommy.
Right then, I knew something had to change. And it had to change fast.
That night, I lay in bed next to my sweet sleeping girl and promised to do better for her. Not only did I promise that my actions would change, but that I would get to the root of the problem: I knew that my heart would need to change first.
After looking back over the last few months, I realized my temper had become incredibly short with my girls and that I was yelling more than I ever had before. And the heart of harshness that came out in my actions and my words was affecting everyone around me, especially them.
As mamas, we have such a huge responsibility to set the tone for our homes and our children’s souls. It’s perhaps one of the most important roles we have.
So do you find yourself in my angry shoes, mama friend? Are you spewing more anger than gentleness? If you are, then let’s get to work.
Here are a few things to remember when we are parenting our littles and what they need from our gentle hearts.
1. Kids need firmness, not anger.
Mamas, there IS a difference between the two! So many times we walk a fine line between being firm and yelling, but as parents we have to be the ones to set that boundary. I can use the exact same words to tell my daughter to go and pick up the mess she made in the living room, but do it with a completely different tone and posture. I don’t have to shame her in shaking my finger at her, I don’t have to blow up in anger, and I certainly don’t have to scream. By watching my volume, my body language and tone, I can make a huge difference in how I parent my children, affecting their anger and emotional state, too.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”-Proverbs 15:1
2. Kids love physical attention.
When disciplining or communicating with your kids, if you are able, get down on their level. Invite them to sit on your lap, put your arm around them, hold their hands gently and look them in the eyes. Nine times out of 10, if I can get my girls physically close to me and gently command their attention, they are more likely to obey and really listen. This also reminds them that when Mommy is giving instructions, she is doing it with love; something kids need to be reminded of throughout the day!
“…but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.” -1 Thessalonians 2:7
3. Gentleness can’t be rushed.
Have you ever noticed that when we are harsh with our kids, it’s usually because we are hurried? In order to be gentle, we mamas need to learn to slow down. When you feel your blood boiling and you’re getting ready to let loose on your kids, take a step back and a deep breath. Slow your mind, even if it’s just for five seconds, and then speak. You will be amazed at the difference in your tone, choice of words, and even their response to you. Gentleness can’t be hurried, and neither can the change in your heart. This will take patience and diligent practice. But you can do it!
“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” -Galatians 5:22-23
4. Gentleness leads to repentance.
The way we show God’s love through His gentleness with our kids has a direct relation to their ability and desire to repent and obey. Yelling and demanding them to follow our instructions may get them to do what we say at the moment, but it’s only a Band-Aid for the real problem. You see, our kids are born naughty (sin nature). They don’t naturally know how to follow rules and react in obedience. But by gently showing them the way in our mothering, not only do we have the ability to show them how to instruct with kindness, but we can show them how to repent in response to our gentle correcting.
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” -Romans 2:4
5. Taking a mommy time-out is OK.
Sometimes the kids really do get to us, don’t they? Mama friend, there is nothing wrong with taking a mommy time-out. Flee from your children for five minutes. When you feel yourself starting to lose control, excuse yourself from the room. Lock yourself in the bathroom, go into your car, or sit outside on the porch. Do something to get away (preferably with a piece of chocolate) and let yourself cool down. Better yet, tell your kids you need a time-out. Let them see you exercise self control in a healthy way and don’t regret acting in an ungentle way.
“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” -1 Timothy 6:11
So how about it, ladies? Can we practice some of these things with our kids this week?
What verses stuck out to you? If one of these things struck a chord in your heart, write down the verse and stick it somewhere that you can see it through the day. Meditate on those words and trust that God will provide you with the gentleness you need to parent your kids well and for His glory.
This post originally appeared on From Blacktop to Dirt Road