Joey and Carla Link
May 29, 2019
The Beach Boys’ popular song “We’ve Been Having Fun All Summer Long” is what kids and teens eagerly anticipate the month of May. Kids assume no school time = play time.
That may have been the way it was when Carla and I were growing up, but when we became parents things changed. Since our kids’ schedules were not jam packed with activities, events and responsibilities at school, home and church, we saw summer time as the best time to work on character trainingwith our kids. (Yes, they had fun too)
We would like to offer you some thoughts on how to use summer time as character training time with your kids.
- Step up your obedience training. With kids under 5 years of age give them a grade for coming “right away”when you call their name. We found with this age I would say “Amy, come to Mommy” and I would pat my thigh. Giving them a destination gives definition to what your expectation is.
- Give them a grade for coming “all the way”. This means they have to come to me and touch where I patted my leg. I would squeeze their hand to let them know I knew they were there. Give them a grade for coming with a “happy heart”. Define what a happy heart looks like and ask them at least twice a day, “When Mommy calls your name you are supposed to come with a happy heart. What does Mommy mean by that?” You can’t expect kids to meet your expectations if they don’t know what it looks like to do so.
- For older kids, grade them for coming immediately, completely, without challenging you and without complaining (whining). If they don’t have at least a “B” in all of these areas step it up. If they have a mix of “A’s” and “B’s”, step up the areas with the “B’s”. Your summer will be a lot calmer if your kids know you expect them to obey.
- Teach them to be responsible. Use summer as an opportunity to hold kids responsible for getting their chores and other responsibilities done on time and the right way. If you need a booster shot to get back on track with this, the Mom’s Notes teaching “ Understanding Freedoms Part 1 and Part 2” or our book ”Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think” will help you help them take ownership of their responsibilities.
- Read, read, read. There are great books in libraries that can open your kids’ minds and imaginations to a whole new world that movies don’t give them. Movies are based on someone else’s imagination of what a story looks and feels like. Since statistics show too much screen time is bad for kids, we strongly recommend they read printed books.
In the teen years, I had our kids read a spiritual book each summer and write a book report on a topic that would help them grow in their faith. I remember one of our daughters had lots of questions about what different religions believe and I had her read a book that covered all the religions in the world. It helped her confirm what she believed and why she believed it. My son had an interest one summer on the end times as he had been reading Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” book series so I had him read a book on pre, mid and post-tribulation and write a report on what position he thought was right and why. I wanted my kids’ faith to have a strong foundation so when they were young adults and needed to choose what church they would attend, they knew what they were and were not looking for.
Be aware of what your kids are reading and be sure it is spiritually and morally healthy for them. Ask them what they are reading and have them tell you about it. This is time for parents to join your kids’ personal world.
- Discover new frontiers. After the popular movie “Bucket List” came out it is common to hear people talk about what is on their “bucket list”. Encourage your kids to have an endless bucket list they can add to as they grow. One of our daughters loved animals and wanted to ride horses. She found a horse camp run by the Navigators ministry in Colorado and wanted to go there. We helped her figure out how to earn money so she could go. She went back the following summer as a counselor. We know of several families whose goal is to visit all the National Parks in the United States before their kids graduate from high school.
- Do family things! Ask your kids what they would like to do and have them help plan it when they are old enough. If you can’t do a vacation, try “staycations”. Go on day trips and do things you have never done before. Rarely do people check out things to do in their own area. We always say we will check it out “one day”. Make this summer “the day”. We have a dam near us with a lift for barges that carry cargo up and down the Mississippi River. We went to a small park near the dam, had a picnic and watched how it lifted the barges. It was fascinating to watch. Let each of your kids 6 yrs. and up come up with an idea for a staycation this summer. Be with your kids and have fun with them. Let this be what they remember about their summer.