I shared before about my struggles to keep my temper under control and not yell at my kids... that was back in 2010. I never realized I had this particular problem until my first child started testing me and then my second, third and fourth child confirmed it.... thanks kids for helping me see I'm not perfect (delusion was bliss). I made changes and saw some success, so awhile later I gave an update on what my imperfect progress looked like.
Now, 3 and a half years later, do I still struggle? I wish I could say, "I've completely kicked the bad habit and NEVER grow frustrated and yell at my kids!" That would be outlandishly untrue. I fail often. Unfortunately, my children haven't been gracious and given me a free pass with nothing for me to find wildly irritating and anger inciting. It is actually a daily battle to simmer down, take a breath, find peace, and respond in kind. I've see victories in the last 4 years since I read "She's Gonna Blow: real help for mom's dealing with anger." I've seen progress, by the grace of God, although there are still many times that make me so angry I can't see straight.
As I struggle and pray, God has put people in my life to encourage and guide me. I so appreciate those who "get" me, but won't allow my excuses. Sure it is hard. Get over it and change with God's help. Always with God's help.
It was through a friend that I was reminded about If/Then charts. I've often heard of If/Then behavioral charts for kids. I saw one that had an unacceptable action (i.e lying), how the child would be disciplined (loss of a privilage), and then a Bible verse (Psalms 119:163 "I hate and abhor lying: but your law do I love"). It is a good way to be consistent and provide clarity if perhaps the situation is too stressful to think straight (I know what that is like). I was always going to make one for my kids, but when I realized I first needed to get a handle on my own behavior, I set out to make one for myself.
As I gave some honest, prayerful thought on this subject, I realized that it is the same things I am getting mad about... over and over again. The kids aren't pulling new tricks, I'm just responding the same way (when I respond badly) to variations of the same frustrating scenarios.
I will share my chart here, it might come in handy for others. Feel free to click on it and make it larger so you can print it. You could also use the idea and make a customized chart.
I've used the chart for about 2 months now. It is on my fridge in plain sight. For me, all my anger inciting scenarios really fit into these categories. Just knowing what the source of the problem is has been immensely helpful (I've since cleaned up the shoes, installed new hooks for coats by the back door, and purged a bunch of winter wear to make #1 and #3 less of an issue). Meditating on the verses and prayerfully asking God for help is key.
How I do not want the above picture to describe me. Can I find real, lasting change? I don't need to be Mary Poppins. I just need to be the person God created me to be... perfection? No. Having a better reaction next time (and there will be a next time)? Yes.