I was recently inspired to write an article about something that could make a quick difference to my readers. I spent some time thinking about something simple that anyone could do that would help increase peace and love in a home.
Then, I realized there was something I started doing that makes a world of difference for me. So, I knew what I wanted to share.
While what I am about to share is applied to life with children, the tip is not limited to interactions with children, so stick with me. I recently left my job in community mental health to stay home with my two boys rather than returning to work after maternity leave. My oldest son is almost 3 and is just about as strong-willed (or overly-determined, as I like to say) as they come. Some days, when the baby is screaming, and the 2-year-old is doing everything he can to get my attention back to him, it can be tough.
In those moments that I have to issue a consequence because of directions not being followed or because of disrespectful attitude, my sweet little boy can act pretty hateful. He tells me I’m mean (is that an innate reaction or something?? I don’t know where he got that!). He screams and cries. Most days it’s mild and short-lived, but regardless of how grumpy he gets with me during a tantrum, I’ve learned to do one thing.
It amazes me how, even when he is furiously mad at me because he’s not getting what he wants (I mean, seriously, wouldn’t you be upset if mommy wouldn’t let you pet the Betta?), he still responds to me when I hug him and tell him I love him.
“Yeah, you too, mommy.” All while still crying. Even so, he knows that when I say no, I mean it, AND that I love him even when he’s being grumpy with me.
So, my one simple tip for a happier household is this:
Always Show Love. Especially when you are most frustrated.
Not only am I amazed when my screaming, tantrum-throwing child wraps his arms around me and lays his head on my shoulder, following my lead, I’m amazed at what a difference I feel. It helps me stay calmer.
To break it down, when you catch yourself feeling like you’re about to have a temper-tantrum/ break-down yourself (whether dealing with a child or adult):
1. Pray. Even better if you can invite the other person to pray with you. Praying as a first resort can help keep you more focused on being loving in any interaction.
2. Keep your voice tone as calm and loving as possible.
3. For the kids, get down to or below their eye-level.
4. Acknowledge how they may be feeling (ex. I’m so sorry you’re disappointed that you couldn’t do what you wanted. -Even children’s emotions are real and deserve to be respected, regardless of whether or not they make sense to adults.) and what they have been saying.
5. Hug him/her (if they will allow it).
6. Say sincerely, “I love you.” (if the kids are still mad and try to argue with you and tell you that you don’t love them… because they do things like that…. either refrain from commenting, or if you feel the need, simply repeat, “I Love You.” )
7. Remember, arguing in that moment will do nothing but escalate the situation. If there are behaviors that need to be addressed, try addressing them after the tantrum is done (unless they are in danger of hurting themselves, you/others, or property).
Yes. I am fully aware that it may sound cheesy or awkward (at first), but let me give you three good reasons why it can work.
- Many arguments occur because the other person does not feel heard. Acknowledging what they are saying and how you think they may be feeling can help diffuse the situation and present an opportunity for any clarifications to be made.
- Reminding your loved ones that you love them helps put things in perspective for both them and you.
- It’s how God deals with us. Even when He tells us no, He will still comfort us and reassure us of His love.
What ways have you all found to diffuse tense situations while showing love?
(**Please note: all articles here are written with the assumption that both parties in a relationship are making an effort to be loving. If you are in an abusive situation and do not feel safe, please seek outside help.)