I always considered myself to be a very patient mom. I could be calm in the midst of the best super market meltdowns. The one and only time I had a designer handbag, it lasted for one week before a toddler decided to cover himself in my lipstick and then use my brand new coach handbag to pretend to be like mommy. I cried a little inwardly. But I could still address the behavior calmly.
It turns out my patience does have a limit. And it starts around age 11 and probably lasts until 20. I cannot stand my kids being mouthy! I can’t stand the back talking. I can’t stand the constant challenges. And I cannot stand that rude tone of voice.
When my oldest entered the tween years, I wondered if he and I would come out of it alive. I got frustrated. And I’m not proud to admit it, but my responses ranged between sending him to his room, yelling back, and saying rude things in return. Not surprisingly none of them worked.
After a lot of prayer, and a lot of different attempts, I found somethings that work for us. Hopefully it helps create some peace in your home.
First, I recommend prayer. I’m not preachy often on my blogs, but I’m going to be for a second because the rest of this doesn’t really work without prayer. I often hear parents saying they wish their kids came with a manual. They do, it comes in the form of prayer. God knows the child’s limitations. He knows the parent’s limitations, and he knows you well enough to help you see the path of connection.
Second, connect with your child the way they want to connect. During one particularly challenging time when I was desperate to connect I tried talking my son into going to seminars with me. I love those types of things and always have huge breakthroughs. He was not excited about it. After some prayer, the answer came, “Ask him how he wants to connect.” Simple, but powerful. So I said, “Babe, I want us to have more time to connect. What would you like to do with me.” He said art. So we went to the library, checked out some books on drawing and started sketching together. The kid being mouthy suddenly was a whole lot nicer.
Third, instead of telling the child what to do, teach them principles. We have an amazing Walker Family Communication Plan. And here’s how we developed it. The kids were fighting like crazy! I was sick of the kids being mouthy and the constant bickering. So I sat them down one night and taught them that while the world might be full of hard things, and people treating them rudely, that our home was our safe space. It was, and is, the place where every one of us knows without a doubt that we are loved, respected and valued. Then I asked them to create the plan for us to be able to experience that at home. This policy has been easier to enforce than any rule we’ve ever created because they are all enrolled into the principle.
My final tip on what to do when the kids are being mouthy is to look beyond the behavior and locate the need. One time when I was struggling with a particular child who didn’t want to respect my authority, I pulled out the scriptures. I had him read passages about honoring your parents, and about how men should treat women with respect. I asked him if he had been treating me as the scriptures taught. When he said no, I forgave him. And then I asked the magic question, “What do you need from me to help you not feel so frustrated?” He needed me to listen to his ideas and honor his growing knowledge of how to make things work. He was learning and growing and didn’t feel like anyone was paying attention to his increased capacity. So I asked for forgiveness, and then we both worked on changing our behaviors.
In all of these tips for what to do when you’re sick of your kids being mouthy, I hope you can hear one overriding theme. Love them and focus on improvement. Being a parent is an amazing journey. I don’t believe it is one to be struggled through or put up with until the kids grow out of it. I believe it is training ground. Your kids will learn so much from you in how you handle the conflict in your home.
I’m cheering you on! Sending you lots of patient vibes and inspirational flow! Remember they probably won’t be mouthy forever!