Hitting the Reset Button

My older daughter doesn't care much for math this year. It's a hard class. It's frustrating for her to have to study so much just to get a decent grade. It's been a new experience for her.

My husband and I want her to do well, but I'm not much of a math guru. I can do it, but it doesn't come easy. So my husband helps her. Too many nights, math study sessions end with a frustrated dad and a teary-eyed child.

This isn't a new problem. It's been going on nearly the entire school year. My husband has tried a few different ways of communicating with my daughter, but each one has led to the same result.

Sometimes, we get stuck in a cycle as we parent our kids. No matter what we do, we keep ending up with the same result. A lot of it has to do with our child's perception of the situation. Some of it has to do with our own frustration. No matter the cause, when we're stuck in a rut, it's time to hit the reset button.

That's what we did last night. We sat down with our daughter and had a conversation about what, specifically, bothered her about doing math with her dad. It turns out her major issue was that when they sat down to work on it, she felt like she was going to be doing math forever because she didn't know when the study session was going to end.

That's a problem that's easily solved. We agreed to specific times to study math. When the timer goes off after half an hour, that's it for that session. If she needs more time, she and my husband will tackle it at the next session.

A simple conversation with her took away one of the big frustrations causing a problem between my husband and daughter. A change in approach made for a big difference in how my daughter perceived studying for math.

When a parenting situation is creating frustration for both parent and child, it's time to step back and look at what the root of the issue is. Ephesians 6:4 tells us not to "exasperate" our children. Doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same poor results from our kids is the definition of exasperating. We have to figure out a new way to deal with the situation.

If you're stuck in a cycle of frustration with your kids, try one of these things:

Talk to your child. Sometimes, talking about the situation with your child can be revealing. You may discover that what you think is the problem is not what's really bothering your child. Be open to listening to their opinion. Don't get defensive. Find the nugget of truth in what they have to say that can change the cycle.

Evaluate your actions. Are you doing something that is causing the cycle to continue? It may be that something you think is helping is actually causing the problem. It may be that simply taking a different approach can break the cycle of frustration. Admit that your actions could be part of the problem and honestly evaluate them.

Seek God's wisdom. Cover the situation in prayer. God tells us not to exasperate our children, so He's happy to help us  figure out what's wrong when we do. Ask God to show you how to resolve the situation with your child. Then, listen for His answer.

Ask another parent. Some of my best parenting answers have come from other parents, especially those who have already been through the stage we're in. There's plenty of wisdom to be gleaned from other moms and dads. Don't be afraid to share your struggles in the hopes of getting some good advice.

Sometimes, all it takes to solve a frustrating cycle with our kids is to change one small thing. It's worth the effort to figure out what that thing is. It makes for a happier household and a stronger relationship with your kids.