Oftentimes, when we think of our “pain tolerance,” we think of physical pain. You fell and scraped your knee or broke an arm. But there are other types of pain as well. There is a certain degree of “pain” when your family life isn’t going well or doesn’t feel peaceful. Or when your life is upended and everything that the fall season usually looks like with school, sports, and other activities is anything but normal.
How long does it take you to reach a point where you’ve finally had enough of your kids’ whining? Or not doing their school work? Or delaying brushing teeth at bedtime? Having a high pain tolerance might sound like a good thing at first. It might even sound like the “Christian” thing. But I encourage you to have a low pain tolerance. You might be wondering, “why?”
My wife and I have a super low “pain” tolerance when it comes to parenting. We have formed a habit of becoming quick to realize when things are not enjoyable or when we’re in pain. It’s not that we blow up quickly, but rather that we notice the pain signs early on before it gets so bad we explode.
Some families ignore the pain, or simply put a band-aid on the pain in their lives. Other parents have a very high pain tolerance, which means they can allow certain behaviors from their children to go on for a long time, eventually leading them to explode. If you never want to explode, you have to recognize early the things that “light your wick” and cause you pain. It’s not necessarily difficult to do this, but it does take intentionality.
One of the things that lights my wick the most is whining. I’ve had to learn to recognize whining right away, so I can address the behavior with my children immediately, instead of letting my frustration build. If I had a high pain tolerance for whining, I might let the whining go on for hours unnoticed. I wouldn’t be aware of the fact that the whining is slowly grating on my patience, until all of the sudden I hit my pain threshold and get upset at my children. By keeping a low “pain tolerance,” we are able to recognize whining immediately and address it before we feel like exploding in anger.
One thing I’ve found that works for me is I calmly say to the whining child, “I’d love to talk to you when your voice sounds like mine, but right now you’re whining a lot,” and then I don’t engage with them until they speak to me in a calm, non-whining voice. This helps me stay calm and not allow whining to go on for an hour or two before I recognize how much it’s gotten on my nerves. This is how I address behaviors before they cause a lot of pain in my life.
You might even be experiencing that you’re reaching frustration much more quickly than you normally would. Not only has so much changed for your own life over the last few months, but for your kids as well. Taking the time to figure out what is causing pain in your home and creating plans to deal with these things that come up will help you create a culture of peace in your home.
What is your parenting pain tolerance level? Is yours really high and therefore your family is experiencing a lot of pain? If it’s really high, you’ve probably got a lot of pain happening right now and feeling like you want to explode often. Is it relatively low and your family feels mostly peaceful? We all want our homes to be as close to pain-free as possible, and in order to do so, we need our pain tolerance to come down.
Start paying attention to what behaviors get on your nerves or when you are most tempted to “explode” at your child. Ask the Holy Spirit to highlight things that you might not even realize are causing you pain. Then take some time to think of some ways you can recognize and address those behaviors as soon as they start. It might take several tries. Oftentimes, my first idea doesn’t work. I try several ideas until I finally find one that does. Don’t be discouraged if your first idea doesn’t work, think of another and try that one as well.
There is so much in our lives that we can’t control. It can be especially stressful as we try to navigate all of the regulations, changes to school and recreation schedules, church, and the list goes on. I encourage you to take the time to pray and invite Holy Spirit into your home and into this process. The fruit of the Spirit includes peace!
Here are some examples to get you started:
Getting the kids out the door is frustrating and rushed. Try:
Starting the leaving process 15 minutes sooner.
Set out needed items the night before.
Digital schooling is overwhelming and chaotic. Try:
Taking some time to understand how the digital tools work before your child is due for an online class.
Create a school schedule as if your kids were in a class at school, with a regular wake up time, breakfast, etc.
Check in with teachers to know how to submit questions your child has and how best to receive their help.
A peaceful home free of pain is worth working for!