A Soft Answer vs A Harsh Word

When my son Benjamin was a toddler, which has been the most challenging stage for me as a mother thus far, I would often react to his toddler behavior. My negative reaction would than cause a negative, counter reaction from my son.  One day as I was reading the Bible, I came across Proverbs 15:1,

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

scream and shout

My harsh words were making my son angry and it was causing a bigger battle than was necessary.

How often as mothers do we do this?

When I began toning down my “angry voice” and using a softer volume as well as a calm voice, my son began to respond better. And so it has been with all my children. As a matter of fact, the change was quite dramatic.

But how can we break the habit of reacting?

  1. Memorize Proverbs 15:1 and James 1:19. It will help when you find yourself in a situation when you’re tempted to act out of frustration. It’s a great reminder to diffuse a potentially worse scenario.
  2. When you ask obedience of your child, do so in a kind manner. Begin right from the start to have a pleasant tone. There really is no reason to get demanding. Be authoritative, but do so blamelessly.
  3. Keep your emotions removed. As hard as it is, don’t take it personal and don’t make it personal. If your child reacts to a direction, keep your emotions from becoming involved so that you can handle the situation clearly and calmly.
  4. Use touch to capture attention. In fact, get down to your child’s level, gently touch their shoulders, look them in the eye, and speak in an even tone to them. The touch and eye contact can be enough to make sure you have your child’s full attention.

Raising children can be a very tedious job. It can be very difficult not to get frustrated, and angry with our children, especially when you have to handle the same situations over and over again. It requires supernatural patience. If we can train ourselves to speak gently to our children, what a victory God can accomplish in us!

Showing anger and frustration toward our children on a regular basis will only train them to react in the same manner. In addition, it can cause resentment and make it doubly hard to teach and train them in the Lord. We need God to work in our heart so that we can lead our children.

The way you discipline now will influence how your children will respond to life in the future. You are teaching your children how to think about life’s challenges.

Good and Angry by Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller

By Christin, Joyful Mothering

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Comments

  1. Joy says

    Love it!! It is SO good to have practical tips to help in the midst of frustration. Thank you SO much for sharing!! Excellent post!

  2. Anonymous says

    These are perfect. I am so grateful to have the Scriptures to use. I am always TRYING to calm myself down, to shower love first, and then start talking about behavior/discipline. I don’t have a very high success rate at this time… This is helpful.

    • says

      Aren’t the Scriptures just filled with so much parenting wisdom? I mean, Proverbs is EXCELLENT for that! :)

      Keep practicing patience…it will come {and keep praying through it, friend!} :)

    • says

      Aren’t the Scriptures just filled with so much parenting wisdom? I mean, Proverbs is EXCELLENT for that! :)

      Keep practicing patience…it will come {and keep praying through it, friend!} :)

  3. Heather @ godcenteredmom.com says

    Yes!! So very true. Yet I still resort to harsh words. We memorized prov 15:1 with the boys and one person at the end of the day would win a “gentle words” trophy. My training came back to bite me when one day in the car my eldest (4 at the time) said “mommy u need to use gentle words. You r stirring up anger”. Smack! There was truth right back at me. (love the book “good and angry” btw…such great wisdom!)

    • says

      But it’s soo good see when your children show they are listening — and they are good for accountability!!

      There will be times we will mess up. That’s life, right? Just keep pressing forward! :)

    • says

      Oh, I know what you mean…I have a 3 year old who will stare me down as she disobeys. They are testing their boundaries. It’s up to us to define and make clear what they are for them. Keep pressing on, Colleen. :)

      I should’ve added a verse about perseverance that encourages us to keep pressing on for that prize, because it CAN get discouraging!!

      • says

        :) It sure can! Mine has started to laugh at me when I try to explain something he’s done wrong…I’m not sure how to deal with that because anything I do that shows I’m upset makes him laugh more but I don’t like ignoring it either. Maye I should try to stare HIM down while he’s laughing at me…I just don’t know but thank you for this post. It’s very encouraging!

  4. says

    Love this. You are so right and it’s something many of us need to remind ourselves of every single day. It’s as simple as a spill – and not saying, “AHH! All these messes!” but instead, conditioning ourselves to say, “Ooopsie, no big deal!”. I know the days I’m aware of ME are the days that are the best for us… love the verses to memorize – thanks, Christin!

    xo

    Cassandra @ Unplug Your Family

  5. Anonymous says

    This was a big struggle for me. My sweet husband would say “You should see your face”. Then my daughter would repeat how I acted and looked. Thank you for these verses. The Lord really spoke to me about this awhile ago but is so good to have a reminder and verses to illustrate farther!

    • says

      I’ve thought of how I might look when I get angry. I’m really afraid to know. I remember my own mom when she would get angry and she was pretty scary!! And of course, her anger provoked me to anger. Go figure.

      I think the key to success is remembering, which is why I think it’s important to memorize scripture. Or even print the verse out and post it somewhere visible. I’ve done that before as well. Just keep pressing on!

  6. Kelli McDonald says

    The Lord knew I needed this today. I have 2 precious little girls (20 months and 2 months) and am struggling with disciplining my toddler. This is a very challenging season, but praise God for His grace for the times I fail and His power to do it better next time! Thank you for the wise counsel. By God’s grace, I will implement it today! :)

    • says

      Kelli, the toddler years are the toughest to implement this, but they are also the training ground we need! It offers us practice over and over and over again. Hang in there!!

  7. Broboysmom says

    This is a great thing to remember! I first realized how I wanted to change after seeing the first couple of episodes of “19 kids and counting” (or however many kids it was back then). Watching the mom, Michelle, gently and always with a sweet voice repremanding her children and always getting them to do as she said was amazing to me! I was shocked to not only see that it worked but that she could still do it with that many of them, and here I was going crazy over 2 little boys! Thank you for reminding me of this today.

  8. says

    Amen sista! It’s a daily discipline to keep myself under control when tempers start to flare. It’s amazing how one grouchy person can infect the whole bunch and cause us all to be grouchy! Pursuing the fruit of the spirit – especially self control and gentleness – has helped me as a mom. But I’m still a work in progress. Great post!
    Courtney

    • says

      Yes!! Exactly, Courtney…one person can infect the bunch. I’ve noticed that repeatedly! Thanks, friend, for popping in and commenting!! :) Blessings!

  9. Audra says

    Excellent post! I was having a problem speaking to my toddler gently as well. I could not believe the difference it made when I showed him respect and love by asking my requests of him and corrected him nicely and calmly. I cannot help but wonder if a man’s desire for respect is actually present at the toddler age. It seems that when he feels disrespected, even at this age, that he acts unlovingly in return. (The crazy cycle from Love and Respect by Emerson). Awesome post! Thanks for putting this at the forefront of my mind today.

    • says

      Audra, that’s a GREAT observation!! Thank you for sharing that. Yes, Love and Respect opened my eyes to many communication barriers as well. That is definitely something to keep in mind. :)

  10. Cammie says

    Wow did I need this today (as my 4 year old son is yelling at the top of his lungs in his room). My kids world has been upside down for 2 weeks and boy howdy am I paying for it this week (which happens to be a super busy one for me)! Thank you for the scripture, I think I’ll put those on the fridge for a while, I’ve had Proverbs 31 up for a long time so it’s time for a change :)

    I also love watching it put in to practice and I love watching Momma Duggar do this practice as well. Any time I feel my blood start to boil I try to hang in until nap time, turn on Netflix, watch an episode to calm my nerves and watch someone handle things in a calm manner and it recharges my batteries.

    Thank you thank you for the post! This mom to a 4 year old, 2 year old, and with one on the way needed a reminder! :)

    God Bless

    • says

      Ohh Cammie…and you have the added bonus of pregnancy hormones, my friend. Remember to pray for help from Him!! :)

      I have a 9 & 6 year old, but the challenge really comes with my 3 & 4 year olds. Plus, I have an 11-month old who’s learning to explore his own world as well! So I certainly understand how difficult it can be — esp. when pregnant!

      I found something that really helps is to apologize to my children when I mess up. They are truly very forgiving, but more importantly, admitting when we’ve messed up speaks volumes to our children.

  11. Theabbeys says

    VERY WELL WRITTEN !

    I LOVE REMEMBERING THAT THESE 6 CHILDREN GOD HAS ENTRUSTED TO ME ARE A GIFT ~ FOR ME !

    THE BLESSING THEY ARE TOLD US TO BE ~ IS THAT THEY ARE IN MY LIFE { PURPOSELY CHOSEN } TO HELP ME FINISH GROWING IN THE LORDS WAYS !

    AS A RESULT OF THEM BEING IN MY LIFE I HAVE HAD TO LOOK AT SELFISHNESS ANGER AND LAZINESS JUST TO BE THE MOM I KNOW THE LORD WANTS ME TO BE!

    HE HAS HELPED ME TO GET THOSE THINGS OUT OF MY LIFE . HE HAS BEEN STRONG WHERE I AM WEAK AND HAS CHANGED ME FROM THE INSIDE OUT !

    THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE OBEYING THE LORDS WAYS~ NOT MINE ~

    IF I AM FAITHFUL TO TRAIN THEM IN HIS WAYS ~

    THEN IT REMOVES ME COMPLETELY !

    THUS I HAVE NOTHING TO REACT TO

    .IF THEY CHOOSE TO REJECT HIS WAYS

    THEN MY JOB IS TO TRAIN AND CORRECT THEM **ON HIS BEHALF

    TO TURN BACK TO HIS WAYS~NOT MINE!

    THIS HAS REALLY HELPED ME TO NOT RESPOND IN THE WRONG WAYS AND MAKE SURE THAT MY HEART AS MOM IS CORRECT TOO ACCORDING TO HOW I AM TO TRAIN THEM UP !

    BLESSINGS TO ALL YOU MOMS TODAY ~AS YOU DILIGENTLY TRAIN YOUR BLESSINGS UP ~ IN HIS WAYS !

  12. Myrna Powell says

    And when the children are older and not home, I have found that this premise works as well for my relationship with my husband. “A soft answer still turns away anger”. And grace wins over anger.

    • says

      Oh absolutely Myrna. This truth is good in any situation…even when dealing with a company who has failed you. I specifically talked about it as it relates to mothering just to kind of narrow in on how it looks for a mother and how we can change that. :)
      I could easily write another post on how it relates in our marriage! :) Thank you for pointing that out!

  13. says

    Love this, Christin, and I couldn’t agree more! When I’m speaking with my 3yo daughter, I often say “Look at me with your eyes.” What a difference it makes to be down on her level and have her full attention! When she’s looking all sorts of other places, I know that she is not really hearing me!

    • says

      Yes, I have found a much more positive response when I come down to their level and look them in the eyes. They are more attentive to my response and our communication is much better understood. Thank you for commenting, Erika!

  14. Raising Mighty Arrows says

    Great post. I am also struggling in the same area with my two toddlers. I know I get a better response from them when I respond correctly, but it’s easier to react with negativity instead. It takes a conscious decision to do the right thing.

  15. says

    Amen, this is a great post! Iam sure that this struggle is not only mine but for many mothers… trying to keep our emotion out of the equation can be a challenge with Mama is sleep deprived. But we must be diligent and pray, our behevior is model by our little sponges of children, they deserve more then that!

    Thank you so much for this encouraging post, was a real blessing to read!
    Renee

  16. Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker says

    I so needed to hear this! I was just thinking today how I never thought I would yell at my kids….my poor 3-year-old has definitely seen Mommy in the flesh! Thank you for sharing! I need to meditate on those verses!

  17. melinda says

    This came at a good time for me, my son is almost 2 and its been getting a bit difficult for me, but this is very helpful and true, i really enjoyed reading it, thanks and God Bless

  18. Dana says

    I struggle with this. The Lord is definitely using my girls (6 and 2 yrs old) to sanctify my tongue. It is something I have to stay totally on top of and ask for strength, grace and forgiveness daily (sometimes hourly). I have a hard time now that I have a two year old and a six year old. The conflicts that arise between them is the hardest to control. I feel as if my 6 yo should “know better”, but then again, I still struggle. Truth and grace smothered in love. We all need it! Thank you for the great reminder and encouragement!

    • says

      Oh I know what you mean about believing our older children ought to know better when even we struggle. I often think sometimes we tend to be harder on our children in areas we struggle with, too, because we become worried they will struggle as badly as we do! Strange cycle, isn’t it?!

      You are not alone, Dana!

  19. Jalvarado4786 says

    Hi u know i started crying so hard when i read this, today i was a horrible monster to my 1 1/2 yrs baby, I had to take her to work with me because I have no one that can take care of her she didn’t cooperate at all with me so I took longer with my job and I was really mad at her and was yelling at her she was crying so hard and I kept yelling at her, I know it was wrong I know I had no reason to be mad at her but yet I did and blame her for my responsabilities and I don’t know who to stop being like this I felt so bad after I yelled at her. when i was a kid my sister raised me and she was abusive with me most of the time mentally and emotionally. She used to beat her kids up infront of me and i just stand there crying and try to stop her but when i did she would then hit me. I DO NOT want to be like her, I don’t want to do the same she did to me and her kids but how do i stop letting that affect me and how i treat my baby. When I get mad is just something that takes over me and all I want to do is hit my baby, Im scare that one day I will hurt her and I will regret it for the rest of my life. I know that im a horrible mother but I promise you that my baby is the only thing that I love most in my life and thats why I hate my self for letting what my sister did to me affect my adult life.

  20. Anonymous says

    I do struggle with this Christin. Thanks for being real….I can lose it at times and I absolutely despise these actions. It is an area of my life where I have let Satan win. I am convicted of this and will only be able to conquer this when I die to Christ and allow His help to enter in. I am going to make part of our homeschooling this year to memorize Bible verses, and there will be those dealing with anger. Where the enemy has took a foot hold, God will claim back! GLORY GLORY!! Amen. (Thank you…this is such a blessing not only to me but it will be a blessing to my four beautiful kids) :D

  21. Tara says

    I have printed this out and put it in my nightstand so that I can go back and read it when needed. This is a huge area that I struggle in and I know that God wants me to change. so hopefully by re-reading this a couple (or a couple hundred) time it will help me to be the mother that God would have me be. Thanks

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  1. […] Patience – As our children learn and grow, they will make mistakes. They will give in to temptation and “forget” what we have taught them. Training children requires heaps of patience. Anger and frustrations will not help us here. If anything, they hurt what we are trying to accomplish.  This is a good time for us to remember that a gentle answer is more productive than a harsh word. […]

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