Has this ever happened in your home?: the baby cried at 4 AM and you couldn’t go back to sleep; the dog got sick on the carpet; the toddler who was partially potty trained peed on the floor three times in a row, for the first time in over a week; the older siblings are perpetually whining and arguing. And as for getting any housework done…! As a result, you are barking out commands to “behave” and “be quiet.” In response to your irritable orders, the children are in a crabby mood, too. You see that there is no end in sight. Yet, it’s only 9:45! You know you’re not going to make it through the day.
This is a very slight exaggeration of a true story—this was us one day! I (Marc) was busy working in my office and took it all in. My pregnant wife then went to the grocery store, children in tow. When she got home, she said that the kids exhibited the worst behavior she had ever experienced with them. I, of course (being the sensitive man that I am), responded, “I could have predicted that.”
You see, when everyone is worn thin and everybody is in a bad mood (frustrated, tired, or just plain irritable), things do not just change by themselves. In fact, you can expect the tone in the home to go from bad to worse, if left unchecked. After this incident, I talked to my wife, all the while thinking that the situation was somewhat what it feels like when my computer is acting up. It can be painfully slow or some features can simply stop working. So how do I respond (being as patient as I am with computers)? I click faster and harder and get frustrated that things just seem to slow down more—or, ultimately, the computer just seizes. How do I get things back to normal again? Reboot: Control—Alt—Delete! Immediately I saw how the concept can also apply to the family.
First, control the situation. Recognize that the environment is not healthy and that the team can’t continue down this path. In our home, we stop everything and call a REBOOT. Everyone gathers in a room and sits down. I (or Cindy, if I am not there) tell the family that the mood is dismal and must change.
Next, alter the path. Ask the family if they want to have a blessed day. Ask them if they feel blessed now. Then tell them that we need to start over and decide to make choices that please God, so that we can experience His joy and peace that day.
Finally, delete the past. All misdeeds are forgiven. Children receive a clean slate for their encouragement charts and full opportunity to get all their marks. Every person (moody adults included) must give every other member of the family hugs and kisses and tell them they are sorry for being crabby or for doing whatever it was they had done to contribute to the mood crisis.
This method is exceptional! It really works. We have done this and have turned the tone 180 degrees in our home. Rebooting is a staple part of maintaining peace and joy in our home. It helps parents and children alike to recognize that peace, joy, and success are a choice. We as a family unit can set a joyful and loving tone in the home. Implementing this method encourages everyone in the family to come on board as a team and choose to take advantage of the new start offered.
This is a great reflection of the grace that God extends to us through Christ, offering a fresh start when we’ve chosen the wrong path and come to Him in repentance. We urge you to try this method in order to reduce the expression of negative emotions that threaten to wreak havoc in your home. The Bible says, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife” (Proverbs 17:1)—this is so true! Little else matters in a home with a negative tone.
(Excerpted from The Values-Driven Family)
1 thought on “Improving the Mood: Dealing with Irritability and Frustration”
I think I’m going to hang a big reboot button in plain sight in our main room as a reminder to stop and reboot on these days–before it gets too out of control. How nice it would be to reboot at the first sign of any of us going astray–before we all lead each other into the ditch, so to speak!