There are times in parenting that I wonder about the feasibility of a certain child still being around by the time they are 18.  Sometimes I wonder if I will survive.  We can have weeks of great behavior and then, bam!, we are in a horrible pattern and every day is painful and horrific.  Nothing they say or I say or do is right.  At times like these, homeschooling seems like more of a liability as there is no way we can get away from each other and have a little distance.  Everything becomes a challenge, school, chores, meals – everything.  What’s a Mom to do other than join a traveling circus?

When I hit one of these patches with my kids, there are a couple of things I have learned to do to break the pattern.

1. Pick your battle!  Keep the most important thing the most important thing.  Pick the battle that you are going to go down on and then let everything else go.  I generally pick first time obedience or respect, in deed and tone, to be the battles I am willing to go down on.  The fact that they are wearing holey jeans to church or that they left their piano bag in the car or haven’t done their hair today, may not be the most important thing  and I may need to let it go so that we can focus on the bigger battle.  Let your child know what your main expectation for them is, and then clearly outline positive consequences for meeting these expectations are, as well as what discipline will be used when they fail to meet these expectations.  Make them clear so that there is no question about what will be done, then be consistent on both positive and negative consequences.

2.  Remind them that you love them, unconditionally!  Say it, say it, and say it again.  Know their love language and show them in no uncertain terms that your love never wavers no matter what conflict you are in.  Little notes telling them of your love, a special treat or just a long snuggle on the couch depending on your child’s love language are effective ways of showing your love.

3.  Say something positive!  When I was a teenager, my Stepmom made a concerted effort to say something positive each and every day no matter how big the conflict was and trust me, they were plenty huge.  She might only say, “I like the outfit you picked today, you look beautiful” as I left to go to school but it made a huge difference.  Don’t let your child leave the house or go to bed without something positive along with an, “I love you no matter what!”.

4.  Spend more time with your child, not less. I have often found that by spending more time with the child I am in conflict with, the battle fizzles out pretty quickly.  I may take this child with me to the grocery store, out to lunch or just hang out in their room.  After the tension has let up, which may take three or four outings, I can then ask them what is really going on and I may find out that someone is teasing them at church or they are embarrassed to ask a question or they reveal they are really struggling with something in their faith. Then we can really get to the heart of the matter and start fixing things.  To get to this point though, I really need to give them a quantity of my undivided time before I get to quality time.  Sometimes I realize that they just need me to be available and as my kids get older, this becomes so much more important.  I find that hang out time in their rooms before bed has become really important to do once or twice a week.  It’s amazing what confidences they give me in hang out time in their room.

5. Be honest.  At times, I have had to say that their behavior is hurting my feelings or that I am really not feeling well so I may not react in the best way right now.  This kind of honesty usually softens all of our hearts and the tension level drops.

6.  Be willing to say sorry.  There have been times that I haven’t handled a situation well and I need to say, “I am sorry for yelling, please forgive me” or “I am taking this personally, and I shouldn’t, I am sorry.”  When I take respinsibility for my part in the conflict, they are more willing to take responsibility for theirs.

We all have times of conflict but a family is the best place to learn how to deal with them.










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3 comments on “Breaking the Pattern”

  1. I clicked on your blog after reading your post on the WTM High School forum. Funny, but this post is so timely for me right now! Thank you for sharing!

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