Don’t Bruise the Tomatoes

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Is yelling really effective in producing the results we want from our children?

"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger." —Ephesians 4:26 ESV

This happens at your house too, right?

You calmly give your children a simple command such as, “Please go to the car.” They do not go. They head off to their room to get something they forgot. They dilly-dally. They dawdle. You ask again, “Please go to the car.” Again your children disobey. They may be moving in the direction of the car, but they are taking their sweet time getting there, and they are getting delayed by plenty of distractions along the way.

You ask again. This time you threaten a punishment if they don’t comply. They feign compliance. You are late for church/work/school, etc. Finally, you yell, “Get in the car right now!”

It is a natural progression of events. I know you would never get to the yelling phase if they would hurry up and get to the compliance phase, and yet . . . yelling at our kids never really produces the kind of long-term results we should shoot for as we mother.

In her book Creative Correction, Lisa Whelchel writes, “Shouting at our children to cooperate is about as effective as trying to steer a car with the horn. When I finally got it through my thick skull that anger doesn’t work, I was able to curb it a bit. Think about it this way: We wouldn’t yell at a tomato plant to make it produce. That would be ridiculous! All we can do is give the plant support to help it grow in the right direction, clip off the dead leaves, fertilize and water it, and give it plenty of sunshine. In the end, the fruit it produces comes from God—certainly not as a result of our ranting and raving.”

I do understand the unique way your children can push your buttons (because mine do the same thing!), but yelling at them in your anger will never produce good fruit in your life or in theirs.

Action Step: Make a penalty jar.

Make a new rule that there will be no yelling in anger at your house. Any time a member of the family yells or screams in anger, the rest of the family has permission to lovingly call them on it. The offender must then place a coin in the jar.

A Mom’s Prayer: Jesus, thank You for your example of retaining self-control when angered. Help me to think of the fruit I produce when I sin in my anger. Give me greater self-control and wisdom to avoid yelling at my children when I am angry or frustrated.

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