How to Stop Arguing with Your Kids

Kathryn, age 6

Kathryn, age 6

Even after I have (often) promised myself I was going to stop, I still argue with my children. And I don’t mean a calm, reasoned discussion (a possible definition of argument). I mean a heated, frustrating quarrel!

I want to be kind and gentle, but I still find myself becoming irritated and impatient. Here are a few things I am learning about how to be calm, gentle, and loving in my interactions with my children:

1.  Don’t take it personally.

I have noticed that I most often get irritated and upset because my pride has been ruffled. I don’t like being ignored, disregarded, or disrespected. Jesus expects me to be able (and he enables me!) to love those who mistreat me. It is strange to apply that to my children, but it works. I must respond in love to those around me no matter how they treat me. Love is patient and kind.

2.  Get over your plans.

Another reason I get irritated and impatient is that things are not going like I want them to! I have a plan. I have a lot to do. Why can’t everyone just cooperate!

It helps when I get over my plans and get lined up with God’s purpose for me. Second to loving God (which really helps me stay calm), we are to love each other. My overriding agenda is to love the people I encounter, no matter what my plans are. Would the interactions I have with my children looks different if my greatest goal was to love them and help them follow Jesus?

3.  Stop being a people-pleaser.

It bothers me when people are unhappy with me or don’t approve of what I do. I have recently discovered that this applies to my children too (they are people!!). I sometimes fall into the trap of trying to appease them, argue with them, or even compromise in order to make peace. When this doe not work (and it usually doesn’t), I get sucked further into a frustrating argument.

It may be counter intuitive, but I have learned that I can be more loving and gentle when I decide that it doesn’t matter if my children are pleased with me. Since my job is to teach and train them, it is an absolute certainty that they will not be happy with me. I must patiently accept that as part of my job.

What have you learned? Will you share some helpful tips for how to interact with our children in a calm and gentle way?