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8 Practical Ways To Keep Harsh Words To Yourself

8 Practical Ways To Keep Harsh Words To Yourself

Need help taming your tongue with your children? Today I welcome The Better Mom contributor, Amber Lia, to share tips to help us grow in self-control. -XO, Ruth


My happy-go-lucky mom friend walked onto our kids’ campus, and as I waved from across the playground I noticed her slumped shoulders and lowered head.  Her dejected face worried me so I called her as soon as my son was in his class. 

“Amber, I’m having a really hard time with my attitude as a mom. I keep saying harsh words I never thought I would say.”  she lamented. 

She didn’t need to say anything more. I understood. The truth is, every mom I know has struggled with holding back harsh words at one point or another. Parenting is hard! It’s easy to get in a rut of being on the defensive, sputtering helplessly or reacting in anger. Thankfully, I’m living proof that we don’t have to give in to the temptation to speak words we will later regret. God’s Word offers verses we can live by. One of my favorites is from Proverbs 15:1: 

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

All of us have the ability to either keep our mouths closed or open them when we begin to feel angry or upset. For the Christ-follower, we have the Holy Spirit to help us avoid temptation when we think we might speak harsh or angry words to our kids. The Bible tells us to resist and the devil will flee from us (James 4:7). So what does that look like in the moment when your child lied to you, or two siblings are fighting, or you got some bad news and you are tempted to take it out on your kids?

When you struggle are you tempted to take it out on your kids? Do you speak harshly and then harbor guilt? There is hope for offering peace, and there is truth to transform your heart and your tongue here today.

Here are eight ideas to help us hold back harsh words toward our kids:

1. Walk away. Take a "Holy Pause" or a Mommy Time Out. Let your kids know that you need a moment and you will be right back. Remember, if you can't speak kindly, DON'T SPEAK.

2. Right then, as you feel the urge to lash out, stop and pray. Ask the Lord to help you to keep your mouth shut until you can be gentle and kind.

3. As you feel your blood heat up, train yourself to think of it as a signal. Let that signal be your alert to offer a blessing instead of a curse. This is the hard but good practice and spiritual discipline of living out our faith, applying God's Word in the moment. (Luke 8:28)

4. Imagine for a week that cameras were following you everywhere. Your family is the center of a reality TV show and the way you treat your kids is on full display for the world to see. Do you think you could keep your cool? How would you use self-control if you knew the world was watching?

5. Be proactive to form a new habit. If you lash out quickly, set a timer every hour to remind you to speak gentle and  words at all times.

6. Pretend you have laryngitis. It's a new virus strain that only allows you to speak when your words will be loving and kind. How often will you actually be able to speak if this virus struck your body?

7. Every time you speak harshly, put a new habit in place to apologize immediately. This is a good first step to make you more aware that you need to change and are working on changing.

8. Imagine a bandaid on your child every time you lash out in anger. How bandaged are they at the end of the day? How does this change your perspective on the necessity of working on your heart and mouth, allowing God to transform you? 

Some of these ideas are sort of silly, some more serious. None are meant to send us on a guilt trip, but  they should convict us toward growth! There’s nothing our harsh words can do that loving words can’t do better. The beautiful byproduct is a mom growing in self-control and receiving the blessing of her own obedience to God. 

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