My friend Alice Marie and I recently attended church with her mother and the pastor said that many of us suffer from a syndrome called “ANTS” – Automatic Negative Thought Syndrome. I remember being affected by this malady – especially as my children were going through one or another “phase”. I KNEW meal time would be a whine fest, nap time a challenge, and bath time a wrestling match. By anticipating negative behavior, was I setting myself up for difficulty? Probably so. Children do go through phases and their brain development as toddlers does precipitate some erratic behavior, but I know that when I expect the worst – that is most likely what I will get.
You’ve heard the saying (pardon the grammar, Phil) “When mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” We mothers do set the tone in our homes. If we are negative, our children will be as well. If we respond to whining with a firm, “Tell me what is wrong, I can’t understand when you whine”, instead of whining right back with, “You always whine and it’s driving me crazy!’ we will redirect the negative behavior. It is not easy – because whining DOES drive us crazy, yet as an adult, I must choose to model a positive attitude.
Philippians 4: 8 says,
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ”
Paul is encouraging us to choose positive thoughts with which to fill our minds. Thoughts determine our speech and then lead to the actions we take. If my thoughts toward my children are lovely and admirable, it follows that my speech will be as well.
When our children were young my friend Carol made me a cross stitch of this verse which I hung in my kitchen. It seems like I needed it in the kitchen the most. You might have a room or a situation that is a challenge for you, where you feel “ANTS” taking over. If it would help, make a list of true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable thoughts. Hang it up. The list may change from time to time. Yet the principle remains the same. Think on these things.