I hate it when people “push my buttons.” Don’t you? Our children do not like to have their buttons pushed either. Effective parents learn to identify those buttons and avoid pushing them. I must admit, I still push a few buttons on accident; and, when I do, disaster ensues. So, I decided to look into what pushes my children’s buttons and share my results with you. Perhaps knowing these buttons can help you avoid some of the meltdowns I have endured. So, for the sake of more effective parenting, here are 5 buttons our children hate…and how to avoid pushing them!
1. Unexpected changes. Children love predictability. They need predictability. Predictability provides a sense of security for our children. So, a sudden change in their daily routine can produce an upset child…a meltdown…a tantrum. Avoid pushing this button by simply giving warnings about upcoming changes in routines. Warn them as soon as you know of the change. Warn them several times if possible. Along with the warning, assure them that everything will work out. Let them know of all the people who will remain support and available in spite of this change in routine.
2. Overloaded schedules. Children need time to process what they learn. They need time to rest. The stress of constantly “being on the go” leaves them “running on empty,” emotionally and physically. With depleted emotional resources, your child becomes cranky and well…may blow their stack at a simple request. Avoid pushing this button by allowing daily down time—time when your child has nothing to do, time when your child can “veg out” and get “bored.” Schedule free time for your children every day.
3. Limits. No surprise here, right? Children get upset with their own limits and the limits placed on them by others. When children cannot keep up with their older siblings or when they find themselves unable to do something they think they should, they become upset. Children are growing more independent every day. So, when you place a limit on them, they will push the limit—maybe even freak out a bit. Still, a parent has to set limits. Reduce pushing this button by making sure limits are necessary, clear, and concise. Let them know the limit ahead of time and explain the reason behind the limits in a way they can understand.
4. Comparisons. Children gain the ability to categorize and compare during elementary school…and with that skill they become sensitive to comparisons. Comparing your child’s actions to a sibling’s cooperation, a cousin’s achievement, or a peer’s ability will not only push their buttons but make them feel less valued, less loved, and more likely to act out. Avoid pushing the button of comparison. Simply accept your children. Love them for who they are. Acknowledge their talents, achievements, and abilities without comparison.
5. Embarrassing moments. As children move toward their teen years, they become easily embarrassed by their parents, especially in front of their peers. They voice embarrassment when Mom yells from the stands during a baseball game or Dad gives a good-bye kiss and hug in front of the guys. Moments they find embarrassing are sure to produce an eye-roll, a “Dad, you’re embarrassing me,” or some other backlash. Avoid pushing this button by honoring your children’s budding sense of social awareness. Do not embarrass them in front of their peers. Give them a kiss before you leave home, not when you drop them off. Remain quiet in the stands at sporting events. When your children begin to get red-faced with embarrassment, change your response to make them feel more at ease.
A wise elder once wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger” (Ephesians 6:4a). One way to follow this advice is to remain aware of these five buttons…and avoid pushing them!