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Obedient Kids

Obedient Kids

By Joey & Carla Link

January 15, 2020
During the holidays it’s normal for parents to let down their guard and for kids to take unearned freedoms, becoming less obedient each day. They are spoiled by grandparents and all the love they give them, then showered with presents. They stay up later than usual night after night and eat more sugar than they get in their normal diet. Before you know it they start toredefine what is right and wrong behavior. Parents usually are not aware of this in the midst of busyness and enjoying the holiday themselves until their kids’ behavior blows up in their faces.
The best way to bring kids back under control is similar to what many people do on New Year’s Day. They set goals for themselves and resolve to get back on track with the ones they have stopped working on. One of the best parenting goals is in Colossians 3:20, “Children obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord.” God didn’t suggest we do this; it is a direct command that children are not only to obey their parents but to obey them in everything they do!
How can parents do this? Pull your kids back into their funnel. What we mean by this is to remind them of their boundaries and watch for them to start staying within them again. Require them to say “Yes Mom” or “Yes Dad” every single time you call their name. If you have fallen into the habit of calling their name and giving an instruction without waiting for them to verbally respond and come to you first, please work on “call and wait”. Call their name and stop and wait for the child to say “Yes Mom, I’m coming!” When they get there, praise them for coming (if they did so with a good attitude) and give them your instruction.
Why is calling your child’s name and waiting for his/her response so important? I remember when Carla called our daughter Briana one day in a loud enough voice Carla knew Briana heard her. Briana didn’t respond, so Carla called her a second time much louder so the whole house could hear. Still Briana did not respond. Finally, in frustration, Carla went to the bottom of the stairs and called Briana’s name in a loud, very firm voce so she knew she could hear her. Briana came running saying, “Yes Mom, I didn’t hear you the first two times you called!” Make sure they can hear you when you call and unlike Carla, if they don’t come, don’t keep calling them. Go to them and deal with their lack of obedience. Just think how many times they overhear your conversations from the other room when you don’t want them to. They can hear you when you call their name.
I remember when our oldest son consistently didn’t respond when we called his name so we took him to the doctor for a hearing test. The doctor came back and said our son had “perfect selective hearing”! That was the end of that and we required him to come every time we called his name and if he didn’t he got a consequence.
Is this new information for you? If so, the Mom’s Notes presentation “Understanding First Time Obedience” (on MP3/CD and PDF/Notes) shares what this teaching looks like with different age kids. The first three chapters in our book, “Why Can’t I Get My Kids to Behave?”(which is also on audio MP3) talks about obedience training. Both are available at Parenting Made Practical.
What can parents do if their kids don’t come at the call of their name? Have a place for them to sit so they can think about why they didn’t obey you. When they are ready to apologize to you for not obeying you (ages 6 and up) they can do that and then you should give them a consequence. For little ones 5 years and under, have them sit and fold their hands (no talking) and when you can see they have calmed down ask them if they are ready to apologize.
Again, there is a lot more information on this in the Mom’s Notespresentation, “Understanding First-Time Obedience” and our book, Why Can’t I Get My Kids to Behave?
“Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.”
Ephesians 6:1

Parenting “Do-Overs”

Parenting “Do-Overs”

By Joey & Carla Link

January 8, 2020

 

Don’t you wish you could have parenting “do-overs”? You could hit pause after you have dealt with something badly and go back and do it over again. Hindsight is wonderful if we choose to learn from it and awful if it brings guilt or anger.
I (Joey) was talking to a parent recently who told his 17 year-old first-born child, “You are my experiment. I learned how to parent on you.” 
You may feel like this at times too, but in parenting there are no “experiments”and there are no “do-overs”. When it comes to parenting, you get one opportunity per kid and one only.
Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he is to go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” At parenting conferences I often say, “Parents are training their kids in the way they will go, but not always in the way they should go.”
Some of the best advice we could give you is to be an intentional parent. This means you are parenting deliberately and purposefully in both words and actions. You choose to parent every single day rather than dealing with your kids when you are so angry or frustrated with them you can’t stand being around them any longer.
Let’s say your child’s heart is like cement. You need to mix the cement with just the right consistency to get it to harden just right. When it is ready you pour it in and smooth the roughness out, sealing it with your love and encouragement. Parents often hold their breaths, trying to be patient while it dries (a time-consuming process) wondering if what they put in “took”.
When you want to teach your child a new character value like patience, you need to think about all you want them to know about being patient (age-appropriate) and then determine how you are going to teach it to them including ways to be patient. You need to determine ahead of time how you will correct them for it when they aren’t patient and how you will encourage and praise them when they are.
Before cement is poured, forms are put into place so it will go where the contractor wants it to. You need to pre-determine what boundaries you want to put into place so the cement (teaching) goes where you want it to the way you want it to. Pouring it in so that it’s not too much information that will overwhelm your kids because they don’t have the age or maturity to understand it is a fine line parents walk every day. Just like us, your kids can only handle so much information at a time before they mentally shut down. When this happens, the cement will flow over the forms with no shape or meaning to it and it will harden this way into place.
Concrete takes time to harden. In the same way, when you give your kids some incredible information, it needs time to cure. They may need time to change bad behaviors or ask more questions to clarify what they think you told them. We always asked our kids after we knew they understood what we wanted them to learn to give us one way they were going to put it into practice that week. Doing this gave us something to look for to see if they were working on it and it put a concrete way into their mind to remember to do it.
Training a child takes time! I know a young father who, when his job moved to a new location, it cost him 3+ hours driving each day to and from work. He didn’t see his young children when they were awake, meaning his wife was a single parent during the week. Because they wanted to be intentional parents, they chose to move away from friends and their church to a much costlier area to live so he could be home with his kids when they were awake each day.
Intentional parenting means you have to make choices. When you are with your kids you are always parenting! This means when you yell at them because you are tired and frustrated, you may not remember what you said by the time you go to bed but they may and often do remember it for days, weeks, months or longer. When your kids are awake you are parenting. It is not “free time” for you to be on your phones or watching television.
In the parenting class Growing Kids God’s Way we learned, “Everything you do whether good or bad, is teaching your kids something.” We took that to heart and made our parenting our biggest priority (after our relationship with God and each other) and our jobs and hobbies came after those.
There were many things we wanted to do in life. Many hobbies, organizations we could volunteer with and creative interests called our names. We were invited by many friends and groups to join them and to help them out, but we kept our first and primary focus on our kids.
We did go on dates and take time to rest. We also kept working out at the gym, and even when we needed to get away for a weekend we did. Parenting is a season in life. We are now empty nesters and don’t have to think about our kids or their activities when we want to do something or go somewhere. We made mistakes when it came to parenting and so will you. But hopefully, when your parenting years are over, you won’t wish you could have a “do-over” when you look at your adult children.
As you start this New Year, what do you need to change so you don’t wish for a “do-over” in your parenting?
“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

 

 

Are Your Kids Givers or Takers?

Are Your Kids Givers or Takers?

By Joey & Carla Link

December 18, 2019
Once kids understand what Christmas is, they want to get gifts for those they love. They wonder if they can get you to pay for them or if they are going to have to spend their own money. Perhaps they have been saving it for something they want and tospend it on others is just too painful. When they start hinting as to how much money you are willing to “loan” them for this reason, parents often fling around Acts 2:35,
“It is better to give than to receive.”
It doesn’t matter if your child is 5 or 15 years old, it’s hard for him/her to believe that when he has been saving for something he really, really wants, convincing him he should delay his/her gratification by a month or longer so he can spend it on getting a gift for his brother after he was mean to him is a very difficult sell. You might be tempted to tell him he is getting what he has been saving for at Christmas, but decide not to spoil that surprise because that it shouldn’t have any bearing on having a spirit of giving anyway.
Teaching your kids that it is better to give than receive doesn’t start with buying Christmas presents; at least it shouldn’t start there. It starts with a willingness to give of themselves to help others. It goes back to the “mines”! How many times have you heard one of your children (older than age 5 yrs.) say “That’s mine?!”
  • Is he willing to let one of his siblings sit in the seat in the car closest to the front, or does he think because he always gets there first or because he is the oldest it is his?
  • Is he willing to let one of his siblings have a bigger or better piece of dessert or is it always, “That’s not fair! I never get the biggest piece!”
  • Was he willing to share his/her toys or did he keep them to himself, yet expected his siblings to share theirs with him?
Giving is not always about money or material things. It is an attitudethat reflects what is in his heart. Either he/she is characterized as a giver or a taker. Some kids seemed to be better givers. Christ followers realize all they have is a gift from God and joyously give of what God has given them to both their church and to others.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart,
not reluctantly or under compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.”
1 Corinthians 9:7
When you encourage your child to buy a gift for someone from their own money, you are teaching them to give as God has given to them.
  • How well do your kids understand the sacrifice it was for God to allow His son to leave heaven and go live on earth for 33 years? How would they like to go live with someone else for a year? It’s because of that gift God gave us in Jesus Christ, that we choose to give something that would please or bring pleasure to others.
  • Helping your kids understand this concept and actually apply it will take more than one conversation. You will ask them why they chose to get that gift over something else that is more expensive, but their sibling really wants. It’s finding out what was the motivation of their heart regarding what they gave and whythey gave it.
The “why” is so much more important
than “what” they give ever will be.
As your kids open up their presents this Christmas, we encourage you to pay attention to how appreciative they are for what they get.  Do they openly show disappointment that it wasn’t a “better gift” or that they simply did not like or appreciate it? If they are not satisfied, don’t do or say anything. Please do not tell them you will get it at the after-Christmas sales!! Look for other instances they are focused on what they are getting vs. what they are giving over the holidays. You may learn a certain child needs training to develop a giving heart.
Jot the things you notice down, and have a one-on-one (or better yet, both parents with this particular child) conversation with him/her.
  • Ask him if he thinks he is characterized by a heart of giving or one of getting.
  • Ask him to give you a situation that happened that week of each.
  • Ask him why he chooses to give.
  • Ask him why he chooses to take or get.
  • Ask him to come up with a way he could have handled each “getting” situations you jotted down as a giver.
  • Ask him if he is willing to work on his selfishness. If so, have him come up with one way he will work on it that next week.
  • At the end of the week get together with him again and grade him on how you think he did and have him grade himself too.
  • Encourage him if he has done well, and if not, ask him how he intends to improve that grade the next week.
  • Keep it up until it becomes an ingrained habit to think as a “giver” instead of a “taker”.
  • Remember your goal is to root out self-focused attitude and not just cut off the top of where this selfish weed comes from.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

By Joey & Carla Link

December 11, 2019
Have you ever had something like this picture in your parenting? You can see something is clearly notworking but deciphering it makes you have to stop what you are doing and deal with it.
Trees should not have fall leaves with 2 inches of snow on the ground. In the same way, kids should obey their parents and not argue or talk back. They should respect their parents and all adults in positions of authority over them. Do you notice when your kids are not obeying or respecting you or their grandparents?
Think about these situations and how your kids respond to them (age-appropriate)
  • When you go shopping, do your kids move out of the way of other adults, small children, disabled and elderly people when going through a doorway or do they rush to get there first and don’t bother to hold the doors open for them?
  • Do they speak to older people kindly at church, or do they ignore them?
  • Do they speak kindly to other kids when playing or do they have to have their own way, especially when the kids are siblings or younger kids?
  • Do they have an attitude when you ask them to do something?
  • Do they stop saying “Yes Mom” when you call their name? While this may not seem like a big deal, did you give them the freedom to stop saying it?
  • Do they say “please” and “thank you” without being prompted by you?
  • Do they gladly share their things or is generosity a foreign concept to them?
  • Do they treat you like a peer telling you what they are doing or do they ask you for permission first?
  • Are they more focused on themselves or about the needs and wants of others?
  • When playing games or sports do they play their way or go by the rules?
  • Are they experts at controlling others with their roller-coaster emotions?
If your child(ren) is characterized by the things mentioned above, is it so common to you that you don’t notice it anymore? Why not pray and ask God to wave red flags in your face so you will be prompted to deal with these terribly self-focused behaviors and attitudes.
In Isaiah 5:20 in the Living Bible it says,
“They say that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right.”
Is this what you are teaching your kids by NOT dealing with these behaviors?
What can parents do?

Mom and Dad need to have the same standard of what is right and wrong.

  • Do you and your spouse agree on the standards you are raising your kids by?
  • Are your standards Biblical and practical?

Parents must recognize when their kids are being self-focused and disrespectful.

  • Do you see it?
  • Are you open to your spouse or others showing you when your kids are violating your standards? Ask your friends to point a specific behavior out to you when your kids do it.

Parents need to have a plan other than lecturing and reminding when standards are violated.

  • Most parents don’t have a plan on what to do so they react when their kids’ behavior is disrespectful to them and others instead of proactively dealing with it/them.
  • With your spouse, choose 2-3 typical behavior violations and develop a plan for what you will do next time they come up.

Be willing to act no matter what the cost to you or your child’s reputation.

  • Their life-long character is more important than their child/teen friends.
  • Be willing to accept a little embarrassment and deal with your child. In the long run, others will appreciate and respect you for it.
Ultimately a parent’s biggest issue when training your kids to be focused on others before themselves is to be consistent. This is why we wrote the Mom’s Notes presentation “Fighting the Consistency Battle“. We would highly recommend you download the MP3 and PDF and listen to it together, then work through the Notes, making a plan on how to be consistent when working on your child’s behavior which will be reflected in his character.

Getting Your Kids Back in Line

Getting Your Kids Back in Line

Joey & Carla Link

December 4, 2019

Does it seem like your kids are telling you what to do vs. you telling them what to do? Do your kids dowhat you tell them to? Do you feel like your kids are running your home instead of you?
Carla and I remember thinking this with our kids. We thought we had things under control but couldn’t seem to get our son to do what he was told to do, much less with a good attitude. What were we missing? Everyone thought our kids were really good kids. Our kids told us they loved us and we went to their games and music events. We had regular family days and had good times together with lots of laughter, but something just didn’t seem right.
We led parenting classes for years using the “Growing Kids God’s Way” parenting curriculum. We were watching it with the class one time and the video was about the funnel. The behaviors that go in the funnel (meaning they are surrounded by boundaries) are the ones your kids aren’t old enough or mature enough to manage themselves or they just won’t manage them appropriately. When your kids are living outside of their funnel, they are taking freedoms they don’t deserve and you didn’t give them the freedom to have. The #1 way to get your kids back in the funnel was to have them ask for permission for everything and anything they wanted.
When was the last time your child asked you for permission to go to a friend’s house vs. tell you they were going? Or they told you they were going outside to ride bikes vs. asking if they could? Or they took the liberty to do something they wanted to do instead of what you told them to do? Give each of your kids a percentage of the times they are characterized by doing these things. It might surprise you.
When your kids ask permission for something they want to do they are acknowledging they are under your authority and are not equal to you. When they are outside the funnel and are taking freedoms they weren’t granted and don’t deserve, they are telling you that you are not in control, they are.
Kids can seem to be responsible but then they “forget” to get their homework done because they were in the middle of a game on their computer and didn’t want to stop playing, or they didn’t get their chores done because they were distracted with what a sibling was watching on their phone. They can make all kinds of excuses, but the truth is they didn’t want to do their homework or their chores so it was easy to find something else they did want to do. Why do you give in to their pitiful excuses? What are you teaching them if you don’t throw the excuses out and deal with their lack of responsibility?  What a difference it would make if they asked for permission to finish their game or watch the show with their sibling!
When you tell your kids they have to ask for permission for everything they want to have or do it will drive you nuts because they will be interrupting you all the time. But stick with it and keep in mind the bigger picture. The difficulty for you will be paying attention to when they do something they didn’t ask for permission for. When our kids were pre-teens and teens, we gave them permission to tattle on each other when they were doing something they didn’t ask for permission for and that took care of this problem!
We encourage you to listen to what your kids are saying when they want to do something. Do they ask for permission or tell you what they want to do?
It’s one thing for a parent to give their child the freedom of responsibility and not having to ask; it’s another for a child to take it.
Taking freedoms = Prideful attitude, not obedient to authority
Parents giving freedoms = Trustworthiness, Responsible
When you, the parent, have given your child freedoms and responsibilities vs. them taking them, you have so much more trust in your child that you don’t have to worry about them abusing that freedom. If they do, back in the funnel they go!