There is a lot of confusion when it comes to how parents should deal with bad attitudes. As you read through the following worksheet, I believe you will get a better perspective on how you should deal with your children’s bad attitudes. What to do and also what not to do.
Attitude – A posture or position; feeling; opinion or mood.
Behavior – The act or manner of behaving.
- Behavior is something we do or don’t do, by either breaking a rule or not doing what is expected of us.
God gave us our emotions.
“Be angry, and do not sin…” Psalms 4:4
Attitudes stem from the heart. The heart of a child can only be changed through their willingness to accept our authority, to receive from us the love of Christ and God’s instructions for them.
Behaviors are changed through discipline/training, which is a corrective consequence.
- A rebellious heart is a miserable heart. It has no peace, joy, contentment, or lasting pleasure– all by God’s design.
- If you know that your child is harboring bitterness toward you, or is rebelling against God’s plan for their life, it requires your commitment to prayer and patience, without compromise. To compromise means several things for parents:
A) You allow a child’s bad attitude to make you angry or resentful. You misrepresent God in the way you treat your child.
B) You allow the child’s bad attitude to rob you of your inner peace.
C) You allow the child’s bad attitude to dictate how you follow through with your agreed corrective consequence or you add to it.
We must allow our children to feel the way they feel.
In many cases children use this as a form of manipulation or revenge.
Manipulation - to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means, especially to one’s own advantage.
- Some children will try to manipulate parents with attitudes so the parents will not follow through with a corrective consequence. They will even premeditatedly attempt to set the parents up to guilt the parents into allowing them to do something they would not normally permit them do.
- When children know that if they exhibit a bad attitude and it bothers their parents, this often prompts them to continue this behavior. This is our sin nature to get revenge. When their pouty, moody, or bad attitude provokes you to anger or sadness, you can be the one encouraging them to continue in this childish, manipulative practice. It takes two to play this game.
When we become angry, this gives our children satisfaction that is very damaging to his/her character development, your faith, and your authority. It is important to not show any emotion when correcting our children or giving a corrective consequence. Stay to the overall discipline plan. If you don’t respond in the way they want or, in other words, if you don’t serve the ball back to them, they will eventually quit playing this game.
If you have been playing this sinful game for a while it may take some time to break the bad habit, for both of you. Be patient and stay the course and the Lord will have victory.
Remember: if the bad attitude turns into a poor behavior choice such as: yelling at you, a bad word, kicking the wall, slamming the door, etc. then you follow through with a corrective consequence for that behavior, not the attitude.
Revenge means to inflict injury in return for an insult.
The Lord has instructed us to train up our children, not inflict injury in reaction to their childish and foolish choices. Is our attitude one that wants to get even with them and/or hurt them in some way because they just won’t do what we ask? This is our problem, not our children’s fault. The Lord gave us these children and sometimes it is hard to raise them in the way He desires. If you have the wrong motive when giving a corrective consequence to your children, you should repent immediately and ask for forgiveness from both your child and the Lord.
- Revenge does not train our children, but instead, causes them to become defiant. This will lead to division between the parents and the children.
Training = Discipline (which is a corrective consequence)
- Training teaches our children. It is fair and not motivated by anger or revenge. It transforms and shapes our children’s character without destroying or bringing division.