How To Not Lose Your Temper with Children
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In this episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast, host Elizabeth Urbanowicz tackles the question of how to stop losing your temper when teaching your kids. She emphasizes the importance of identifying the root cause of this sin struggle and offers three possible roots: a desire to feel more productive, insecurity about parenting abilities, and a feeling of lack of control. Elizabeth encourages listeners to arm themselves with Scripture that speaks to the truth about the root issue and to practice self-control even when feelings haven't caught up with the truth. She also highlights the power of practicing gratitude to shift attitudes from entitlement to indebtedness. Overall, this episode provides practical advice for parents seeking to overcome the challenge of losing their temper while teaching their children.
Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.
Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today. Today's question says, "How do I stop losing my temper when teaching my kids?" Ooh, that's a big one and a really important one, and I'm sure one that a lot of us struggle with.
Now, before we dive down deep into answering this question, as always, I would ask that if you have found the content of this podcast beneficial, make sure to like and subscribe so that you don't miss any future episodes. Also, ask that you would invest the time writing a review so that more people can find this content and we can equip as many adults as possible to get the kids in their care carefully evaluating every idea they encounter. Also, if you have a question that you would like for me to answer on a future Foundation Worldview podcast, you can submit that question by going to FoundationWorldview.com/podcast.
Now, anytime we are thinking about a sin struggle that we are just really struggling with and really entrenched in, I think there's an important question that we need to ask ourselves, and that question is, what is the root cause of this sin? Now, when we think about losing our temper with our kids, we might think, well, it's my kids are driving me nuts, my kid has this annoying habit, or my kid has a bad attitude, or I don't get any sleep because the baby's awake for a lot of the night. And those things might be part of what is causing us to lose our temper. However, that's really not the root cause of what is going on because anytime we have a sin struggle, there's always really a root issue there.
So now those of you who are watching and listening who have watched and listened to Foundation Worldview podcasts before, you know that I am not married and I do not have any biological children of my own. So right now I don't struggle with losing my temper when teaching my own children because I do not have my own children. However, I still have many sin struggles of my own. And so whenever I'm thinking about a sin that I struggle with over and over and over and over again, I need to ask myself, "what is the root cause of this sin?"
Now, one sin that I see in my life, frequently, is I become very easily frustrated when someone in my immediate family offers me correction. Now, this is very interesting because when others in my life offer me correction or feedback on something I'm doing in my job or in another area of life, I am not very frustrated. In fact, I really, not that I enjoy it, but I really look for critique from others whose opinion I really respect because I want to love God more. I want to be conformed more to the image of his son. I also in work when I have a friend or a mentor who will be like, "hey, I think you've said this exactly correctly on this podcast", or when I'm working on a curriculum and someone that I respect tells me something that they think is wrong with the curriculum, I greatly appreciate that because I know that it makes the materials stronger.
However, when it's someone in my family that offers a critique on something, I become very easily frustrated and defensive. And so I could just say, "oh, well, it's just that when my mom says this or somebody else in my family says this, it annoys me", where that's not the root cause. That's the fruit of what this root is causing. And so the reason, the root cause of me becoming frustrated when someone in my immediate family corrects me is they know me the best. They know me better than anyone else and they have ever since I was born. And I feel very self-conscious about that. And I always need to prove myself because I remember sinful tendencies that I had growing up that praise God I no longer have. But I feel very self-conscious about that, and I feel like my family knows all of my weaknesses and I need to continually prove myself like I'm worthy enough of their love or of their affection.
And so this is the root cause that whenever someone in my family critiques me, it's hitting on this belief that I have that I'm never going to measure up and that I need to prove myself. And so it's not that they just did something that annoyed me, it's that I have this false belief. And so I need to remind myself daily that I of actually who I am, that I am united with Christ, that I'm in union with Christ, and no matter what I feel like my foundation and who I am in him is solid and it cannot be moved. And so I need to remind myself of this truth because that hits at the root of where my frustration comes from.
Now, we see this in all sin examples in life right now in our culture, pornography is just rampant. It's just this rampant wickedness and evil that is in our country and our culture, and sadly, even many within the church are ensnared and addicted to pornography. And we often think that the root cause of a pornography addiction is lust. And now don't get me wrong, lust very oftentimes is involved in pornography however many times it's not the root cause of why people continually go back to pornography and become addicted to it. A lot of times the root cause of a pornography addiction is insecurity about measuring up - someone feeling like they don't measure up for their spouse or they're not measuring up in their job. And this is an area where they feel like they're by themselves and when they're by themselves, they feel like in this they can measure up or it may be a desire for control. They feel like there's so many areas of their life that just are not what they want them to be, are not what they dreamed or imagined them to be. And they have very little control over these circumstances. And this is just an area of their life where they feel like they have control. So they consistently go back to pornography for these feelings to get rid of these feelings of insecurity or lack of control. And so in any sin struggle, no matter what it is, whether it's like me, we're becoming very defensive. Whether it's an addiction to something, whether it's losing our temper with our children, if we only attack the fruit of this sin rather than the root, we're never going to gain victory over this sin struggle because we need to identify what is the root cause of this.
So for the person who wrote this question in, "how do you stop losing your temper with your children?" Well, first you need to identify what is the root cause of this. And so I would encourage you to pray, to ask the Lord to give you wisdom because God has promised us that when we ask for wisdom, he will give it to us. So pray, ask for wisdom. Also be honest with those in your local church. "This is something that I struggle with. Can you help me think through where does this stem from? What is the root issue of me losing my temper with my children? Where does this anger come from?"
Now, I've just thought through a few possible root causes, this might not be the root cause of the person who wrote in this question. If you're watching and listening and you struggle with this, this might not be your root cause and you can still pray and ask for counsel from others. But here's three possible roots that this could be. So one, it could be a desire to be doing other things and feel more productive. Maybe when you're teaching your children or you're working with your children or you're just playing with them throughout the day, maybe you feel like I am not doing anything. I am not being productive here. If I just didn't have to do this with my child right now, or if my child was quicker at doing this task or quicker at learning or didn't have such a bad attitude or didn't whine all the time, I would be able to get X, Y and Z done and then I would just feel productive and I would feel so much better about my day. So maybe it's just this desire to feel more productive.
Maybe it's an insecurity that you're not teaching your child well or you're not parenting well. Maybe throughout the day you just hear this consistent narrative of you're not a good mom, you're not a good dad. If only you did X, Y, and Z, you would be a good mom, you would be a good dad, but you're never going to measure up. So maybe it's just this insecurity because you're just continually hearing these lies throughout the day of you don't measure up, you don't measure up, you don't measure up. Look at that person over there. Look at this person over there. Your child's not like this. If only you were more like this, you would be a better parent.
Or maybe it's a feeling that you lack control. Maybe you're very type A and you're very organized. And before you had children, your house was nice and neat and you had a very organized schedule. And then you had children. And children, yes, they do need a schedule. Yes, they do need organization, but life with kids is not as neat and simple as life without kids. Now, that is a really good thing to have children and to be working with them, but maybe you just desire more control and your children make you feel like you are lacking control.
So once you've identified what the root, then what we need to do is we need to arm ourselves with Scripture that speaks to the truth about the root of our situation. So once we've identified the root, we need to arm ourselves with Scripture that's going to speak the truth over us about the root of this issue. So if the root of your issue is this desire to feel more productive, that you just feel like you don't get anything accomplished during the day when you're teaching your children or when you're working with your children, well, a few passages of Scripture that I think would be really great for you to arm yourself with, the first one is Colossians chapter three 17, which says, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him", that whatever you do, even if you feel like you're not accomplishing anything throughout the day because all you're doing is cleaning up after your kids and disciplining your kids and trying to keep your house organized that just remind yourself, "okay, this is what God has given me to do today, and the command that I have been given is whatever I'm doing to do in the name of Jesus and to give thanks to God the Father through him."
And so that's what I'm going to do. I might feel like I've accomplished absolutely nothing today, but I'm going to give thanks and I'm going to do everything I'm doing as if I'm doing it for Jesus. Another verse that could speak to this is in Matthew chapter 25, verse 40, where Jesus is talking and he says, "And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." So to remember, our children are some of the least of these. There's some people in our society who have the least amount of control over their lives, the least amount of authority. And so whenever we are caring for our children, it's as if we are caring for Jesus. And so to say, "okay, you know what? I might feel like I have gotten nothing done today, but everything I did to care for my children, I was actually doing for Jesus."
If the root issue of losing your temper is an insecurity, just believing these lies that you're not a good enough mom or you're not a good enough dad and you're never going to measure up, and if you were like someone else, it would be better. A great passage of Scripture to go through is in Romans chapter eight, the first four verses of Romans chapter eight, Romans eight, one through four says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
So that when those thoughts of insecurity come that you can say, "you know what? You're right. I'm right. I am never going to measure up. And you know what? That is okay, because there is no condemnation for me because I am in Christ Jesus and God has done what I could not do, what the law not do. By sending Jesus in the flesh, he fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law so that now I can walk no longer in condemnation, but in the freedom of the spirit. So you know what? It doesn't matter whether I feel like I measure up, I have been reconciled to Jesus."
If your issue with losing your temper with your children comes from a feeling of lack of control and just wanting control and just thinking, okay, my days never feel like they're organized, I never feel like I have control over this. Surprising things happen all the time. A great passage of Scripture is actually the passage of Scripture that I close all of our podcasts with, which is Romans chapter eight, again, verses 28 and 29. And those verses say, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first born among many brothers." And to say, "okay, you know what? I feel like I don't have as much control as I want, but you know what? This is the situation God has placed me in, and God is using this to conform me more into the image of Jesus that this is ultimately for my good."
And so whatever the root causes, whether it's one of these three that I talked about or another one, find passages of Scripture that speak to this issue, that speak the truth to and over this issue. Arm yourself with those scriptures. Write it down on note cards. Stick it on your car dashboard. Stick it on your fridge, stick it on your bathroom mall. Start memorizing these passages of Scripture and just say them over and over and over and over again so that they will start to form the thoughts in your mind that the thoughts in your mind would be conformed to this truth. Now, change from deep sin issues does not happen overnight. It does not happen overnight. And so we need to make sure that we are practicing self-control even when our feelings, our internal feelings, have not caught up with what we know to be true. Now, this is going to be hard at first. Sometimes it's going to feel like we're faking it, and we might still struggle. We might still lose our temper with our kids, but we need to make sure that we are practicing self-control even when we don't feel like it, that we're giving our feelings a chance to catch up with what we know to be true.
And another key to changing any sin struggle is practicing gratitude. Because gratitude always shifts our attitude from one of entitlement to one of indebtedness. It reminds us of reality. That in any sin struggle, we tend to feel entitled, I'm going to act this way because how I deserve to be treated didn't happen. I didn't deserve for this to happen to me. I don't deserve this situation. I deserve better. Where when we shift our mindset to one of gratitude, we realize that we're indebted, that everything that we have is because of God's grace.
I remember my bible study leader in Chicago, she gave this example. One time, she was talking to a woman, who she was counseling, a woman who was just having many struggles in her marriage. And one of the things that was annoying her about her husband is that she had just asked, her husband said, "when you leave for work in the morning and you're done with your coffee, it would just help me so much if you could dump your coffee out in the sink and then put the cup in the dishwasher. This way the kids aren't knocking it over. It's one less thing for me to do in the morning." And she'd asked him to do this multiple times, and still he was just continuing to drink his coffee and then set it down on the counter, and her kids were knocking it over, mugs were getting broken. It was driving her nuts. And my Bible study leader said, "okay, let's think for what we can be grateful for in this situation. And the woman looked at her like she was crazy, and she's like, no, there's things to be thankful for. She's like, how thankful are you that your husband is leaving this coffee cup on your counter and not the counter of some other woman?" And so there's always things that we can be grateful for. If we're struggling with our temper with our kids, we can say, you know what, God, I thank you so much that you have given me the opportunity to homeschool these children or to be with these children after school. Or, I thank you for the opportunity to disciple these children. I thank you for the way that discipling them is conforming me more into the image of your son. You're revealing my sin, my lack of self-control, my love for myself. So to actually switch to a posture of gratitude that can greatly help us in any of these sin struggles.
Well, that's a wrap for this episode. But as always, my prayer for you as we leave our time together comes from Romans 8:28-29. As I said before, that no matter the situation that you and the children, God is placed in your care, find yourself that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to conform you more to the image of his son. I'll see you next time.
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