A reader recently commented:
I've been reading your blog for some time now. I'm a stay at home mother to my 4 year old. I feel absolutely frustrated and maybe that is why now, I'm reaching out for help.
I am ashamed to admit this, but maybe someone can help me restore peace to my home.
My 4 year old runs our home. Literally. And I am at my wits end. As is my husband. I have always considered my self a gentle parent, a patient mother, who gives alot of time and attention to my child. I believe that this is my highest calling, and I cry when I think about how I am the one who must be doing everything wrong.
My daughter throws horrible tantrums. She screams at me and my husband. She tells us she hates us. She refuses to stop talking over us, when my husband and I are trying to talk with one another. She engages her father into arguments, and constantly upsets him. She wakes up in the morning and demands breakfast and cartoons. Sometimes the day begins with a tantrum. She has no respect for us. She constantly back talks.
We have removed TV, Toys, and I have let my home go, so I can spend more time with her. You see, a therapist tried to tell me that my daughter was fine, that it was me that had to bend to her will and give her my full attention around the clock.
She's going on 5. This has to stop. I don't know what to do. I don't know what information to turn to that could help bring peace into our home. It is to a point where my husband and I cannot even enjoy our home or time together when he comes home from a 10 hour shift at work. He is a patient loving father. A good husband. But all of these stresses are starting to cause cracks in our foundation. We even find ourselves arguing now with one another when the stress is high. Our home feels divided on most days. My husband and I cannot figure out how to solve the problem. He and I have talked this out almost on a weekly basis.
I'm reaching out here for anyone to please help me. I feel like I'm at my wits end. I pray so hard for something to change, and maybe I just don't have the tools or the know -how. I just want my daughter to be respectful and the tantrums to end. I cannot even function on some days that are bad.
Please help. Anyone.
1. Pray to God for wisdom, change,patience and tough love as you and your husband embark upon turning your home around.
2. Read Scripture about child-training and get a good book on child-training (Proverbs is great). I recommend Biblical Parenting by Don Gilchrist---read together with your husband or share with your husband the highlights of the book when he get home from work if he doesn't have time.
3. Don't listen to that therapist. In fact, don't ever go back again!
4. Let your child know you are sorry for not training her in the past and from now on things are going to change. When she yells or talks back--let her know it is unacceptable. If she does not obey, there needs to be discipline. Train her to obey you the first time. It takes time, but it is possible. Do not allow her to disobey. This is crucial to the peace of your home, your sanity, your marriage, and to raising her to one day obey God. If she cannot obey you she will have a hard time obeying Him.
5. Anger sounds like it is an issue here. Where is this little child learning all this anger? Is it from within the home? Friends? TV? You must teach your daughter self-control and how to use her anger for good. Outside of reading the Bible on this issue, I also highly recommend 'The Heart of Anger' by Lou Priolo.
6. As you begin learning how to properly train her---I encourage CONSISTENCY. I know this will be hard at first but absolutely essential if you want to gain any ground. If she sees there is a weak spot in the wall, she will go for it every time.
7. Be united in your parenting with your husband. Discuss how you will parent her and be on the same page, letting Dad take the lead. Be sure she does not try to divide you or manipulate you and your husband. She must see that you two are parenting as a team. If you disagree with anything, talk with your husband in private in the other room out of earshot. Also, know you will probably be responsible for the bulk of the training if you are at home with her most of the time. When your husband is home, let him take the lead in disciplining, etc.
8. Shepherd her heart. As much as we need God to shepherd ours--she needs her shepherded too. Teach her God's word and show her how it applies to real life. Love her with an unconditional love, but also with a tough love that doesn't want to see her perish because of her anger and lack of self-control.
9. Don't get discouraged. It is not too late. You can turn the tide. It will not be easy but you can do it. Children most of all need boundaries and feel secure when these exist. Provide these things and see your home do a complete turn around!
There is no need for the child to rule the home---peace CAN reign, but it takes God, hardwork, time and love. Know that you and your husband are doing the right thing both for your daughters sake and your home. While I cannot address all I'd like to on such a broad topic such as parenting in one post---I hope this little bit helps.
May the Lord bless your parenting endeavors!