5 Steps to Surviving Their Difficult Stage
by Cindi McMenamin
Do you find yourself worrying about one of your child’s difficult stages?
Most of the things we worry about come down to a phase our kids are going through. A phase that eventually ends and then our kids seem normal again. Most of our children’s difficult phases are temporary – but how we choose to handle them can have more lasting impact.
As I wrote my book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, I interviewed moms of children going through the “questioning” stage, the “testing” stage, and the “lack of motivation” stage, to name just a few.
In some cases the phase lasted…
…only a few months. In most cases, it lasted about a year. But in every case I’ve seen or heard about, it was a limited time – a short season of a child’s life.
One mom summed it up like this: “Every phase my kids went through, whether good or bad, seemed to change over time. I spent a lot of time worrying about something that wasn’t even an issue a year later.”
Worry negatively affects our health. Worry damages our relationship with our children by making them not want to tell us what is going on in their lives. And worry models to our children a lack of trust in God. So there has to be another way to deal with their difficult stages.
Philippians 4:6 commands us:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (NLT).
Here are some practical ways to keep this command to not worry – and keep your sanity – when your child is going through a difficult stage:
- Learn to Respond, Rather Than React
When we react, rather than respond to our children’s behavior, it can escalate a situation between a parent and child, especially if you are reacting emotionally to something you don’t understand (like your child’s choice of dress or unusual request). Instead of reacting to something your child might say from a bad attitude or an irrational thought, respond by calmly saying “Tell me more about that.”
- Learn to Laugh
It helps to have a sense of humor. See the “stage” as something to look back and laugh about later.
- Learn to Count it Out
One mom told me she “counts to ten” in every situation where she’s tempted to blow. Being patient by taking a deep breath and counting makes sure we are not as impulsive and emotional in our responses, as our children are in their actions.
- Learn from Moms Who Have Been There
God many times speaks to us through the wisdom of others. Talk to godly moms who are facing the same things with their kids and can offer sound biblical insight. If you don’t have a group of moms around you who can give you biblical advice, find a Moms in Prayer group at your children’s school or find a moms group at your local church.
- Lean on God and His Word
In Psalm 16:8, David said: “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Life’s circumstances can shake us. Our children’s constant changes can take us by surprise and rattle us. But you can have the kind of confidence David had when he said “I will not be shaken.”
As you lean on God, who never changes, and His Word, which is rock solid, you can stand firmly and be a steady, immovable force in your child’s life no matter what he or she is going through and no matter what changes are swirling around you.
Which step will you take to keep from worrying during your child’s difficult phase?
Cindi McMenamin is a national women’s conference speaker and author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone, (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Woman Inspires Her Husband, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, and her most recent, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom. For more on Cindi’s books and speaking ministry, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.