Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Assessing anger in kids July 30, 2011

Filed under: Books,Correction,Emotions,The heart,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:19 am

“Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.”  (Ecclesiastes 7:9)

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about anger, and how to respond when my kids are angry. I deeply appreciated Elizabeth Kroeger’s insights about children’s anger and blogged about it, in relation to toddler temper tantrums. Kroeger’s takes issue with the commonly held idea that there’s nothing a mother can do about a kid throwing a fit except ignore it, wait it out, or require him to do it elsewhere. In Raising Godly Tomatoes she writes:

“I see only evil in the uncurbed display of rage, selfishness, and wilfulness…. I am obligated to step in and curb temper tantrums and any other kind of wrong behavior… I do not allow temper tantrums in my home and so even if my children are frustrated, they do not have them (beyond the first few times they try, anyway). I teach them to ask me for help if they need it, and never to get angry and throw a fit just because they can’t do something. The bad habit of quickly losing their temper can be far more easily overcome (in a toddler) than in any proceeding year… The longer you pacify a child in this area (by comforting, ignoring, or distracting) the worse the situation will become. The longer you let it go on, the harder it will be to stop and the more tantrums you will have to deal with.”

Kroeger then goes on to describe her method for nipping tantrums in the bud, a strategy which has worked well for me on many occasions – including the one I described in my “What’s on the Other Side of that Temper Tantrum?” post.

Her assessment and conclusions on anger are compelling, and they convinced me that I should immediately and thoroughly quell any wrong-headed anger I saw in my children (and the wrong-headed kind, as most moms will likely tell you, constitutes the vast majority). I sought to train them that getting mad and throwing a fit because something didn’t go their way wasn’t acceptable – and to show them that they could harness self-control even when their instinct may be to tantrum. Fine.

Problem was, it didn’t work, at least not like Kroeger describes it. The methods she describes didn’t eradicate our children’s temper tantrums; my son in particular has lately begun throwing more fits (at age 5 – as described here) than perviously, despite my zero tolerance policy for this behavior. Still I continued in ambushing, outlasting, corner time, and the like. “Nothing good can come from his being allowed to hold onto that angry spirit,” I told myself. So I pressed on in the same way, and nothing improved. (more…)


Joyful vs. joyless mothering: intentional joy November 23, 2010

Filed under: Emotions,For moms,Mothering role,Parenting — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 6:39 am

My longest-standing client, a guy I’ve worked with for a decade and consider a friend, has this thing about threes.  If you’re going to create a list of points, there have to be three items – kind of like a three-point sermon.  He’s never content if we only come up with two, and even four he doesn’t love. It’s funny… yet it always rings in my head.

Joyful mothering doesn’t boil down to three concepts, not by a long shot. I have a feeling I’m going to be pondering and re-pondering this concept for years, even decades, and there will always be more to learn. Nevertheless, I’ll leave this little series at three posts, at least for now, and move onto other things.

This week is Thanksgiving, and thanksgiving and joy are kindred cousins.  A heart that bubbles over with authentic thanksgiving cannot help but be a joyful heart.  Where there is gratitude and thankfulness, there is joy.  And just as thanksgiving is an intentional act, something we choose to do, so I think is joy. (more…)


Joyful vs. joyless mothering: a relentless fight November 18, 2010

Filed under: Books,Emotions,For moms,The heart — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 12:25 am

John Piper has an article – a list really – called “How Shall we Fight for Joy?“.  The whole list is good, but I particularly like the first two entries: 1) Realize that authentic joy in God is a gift. 2) Realize that joy must be fought for relentlessly.

We can’t manufacture true joy because it’s a gift that only God can give; we can’t make ourselves feel joyful.  But we can work hard to create the conditions that will facilitate God’s gift of joy in our life… and we must.  We must “fight relentlessly” for joy; I love that expression.

It’s our job to steward our own joyfulness. God’s gift of joy is for all believers, and He’ll give it to us as we ask him for it. But are we collaborating with him?  Are we creating the conditions in our life (like sufficient sleep, exercise, nutritious food, time with God and our spouse, friendship, Sabbath, recreation) that will help usher in his gift of joy?  Will we receive His joy?  Our do our souls, from lack of stewardship, have a figurative “mailbox full; please try again later” message that meets God whenever he tries to bestow the gift? (more…)


Sacrificing “thank offerings” for our children October 31, 2010

Filed under: Emotions,Materialism and entitlement,Mothering role,Prayer — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 11:17 pm

I’m four months pregnant with our fourth child (not sure I’ve mentioned that yet, but if I haven’t you won’t be too surprised if you’re a regular reader here), and lately I battle a fair bit of fatigue.  I slept terribly on Friday night and yesterday woke up feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.  It had been a long week, and as hunting season just started my husband was out for the morning, so I was on my own with the three kids.  That plus preparing for a full weekend – Halloween today and our eldest’s fifth birthday on Monday – and I was a crank.

The two bigger kids bickered considerably throughout the morning,the baby refused her morning nap, and when my husband returned I begged off our son’s 11 AM soccer game (he took all the kids) so I could go back to bed.  As I lay down I felt God prodding me.  All I wanted to do was crumple into a heap of  moodiness and slumber.  But, as God pointed out, I was riddled with thanklessness.  In my mind I was rehearsing all the frustrating things about my life and home and family, feeling completely sorry for myself, when in reality He has given me blessing upon blessing.  Here it was, the five-year anniversary of my becoming a mother, and all I could do was internally whine. (more…)


The junk and what to do with it April 20, 2010

Filed under: Behaviors,Culture,Emotions,Fear,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:22 pm

I’m not a big TV-watcher; my normal repertoire consists of political news and a couple prime-time shows my husband and I watch together.  One show I do enjoy is TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive.”  Anyone seen it?  Each episode follows an individual who over-collects stuff and ends up with an insanely full, cluttered house.  My husband, who finds the show depressing (and justifiably so), teases me for liking it. Which made me wonder: “Why do I like this show?”

Here’s what I came up with: I like “Hoarders” because it takes a common human problem and illustrates it in a visible, material way.  What problem?  Accumulating baggage, piling it up, ignoring it, and carrying on with life as if it weren’t there.  As if we can simultaneously hold onto all our junk and continue living a productive, focused, healthy life.  (more…)


Hormones, self-discipline, and the wisdom of our mothers January 10, 2010

Filed under: Emotions,For moms — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 11:37 pm

As far as I can tell, I’m not as impacted by hormones as many women. Sure, I get a few cramps and can be a bit cranky at a certain time of the month, but it’s usually nothing to write home about. But things have been a little different of late.  Because I can’t breastfeed my period returns quite soon after giving birth, and thus my regular cycle returned when my infant was less than four months. And PMS has suddenly found a new hold on me, it seems. Last week I spent nearly three full days feeling like I was looking at my whole life through a dirty window… And spent my prayer times leafing through David’s psalms of lament about bleakness. I felt miserable.

A few years back my wise mom gave me some great advice about how to handle the blues that hormones can bring. She said: “When you’re feeling low (because of hormones), it’s natural to look for reasons you feel bad. You go searching for things in your life you’re dissatisfied with, and it’s not hard to find them. You can get yourself all bent out of shape about them…  But don’t because they’re not the real culprit; you just feel bad because you feel bad.  Realize that and let it pass.”  I’ve stopped and thought through that pearl of wisdom more times than I can count, and it’s helped me discipline myself to not let my mind and heart delve into unhelpful territory at a time of hormonal upheaval. (more…)


What’s on the other side of that temper tantrum? December 11, 2009

Filed under: Authority & obedience,Behaviors,Books,Correction,Emotions,Training — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 12:24 am

That temper tantrums are a normal part of toddler life seems self-evident. The question has never been, “should children be permitted to have temper tantrums?” but, “how should one best respond to a child who is having a tantrum?”  The notion that children could be trained not to tantrum never occurred to me. I didn’t know any moms who’d trained their kids not to have tantrums.

This passage in Raising Godly Tomatoes, therefore, greatly intrigued me.

 Some parents… believe that temper tantrums are acceptable. They believe that it is necessary and good for a child to vent his frustrations, release tension, and express himself in such a manner. They go so far as to believe it is the child’s right to do so. I vigorously disagree.

Children seldom truly outgrow of such willful expressions. The toddler tantrums are merely replaced by adult tantrums such as swearing, yelling, road rage, abusing animals, spousal or child abuse, and sometimes escalating even to vicious assaults and murder. I don’t see how anyone could dare defend the behavior that leads to such evils, yet the “experts” do it every day, and are extolled for it in the bargain. (more…)