By Joey and Carla Link
November 9, 2022
You have told your 6 yr. old son he has to be kind to his 4 yr. old sister no matter what. God said to be kind to each other and so that is what you all were going to do. (Ephesians 4:32) Yet time and time again he is hitting his sister when he gets mad at her. Never mind she broke apart the Lego© set he had been working on putting together for days.
What do you do when he hits his sister again? Do you just tell him he has to be kind to her no matter what one more time? When you “tell” your kids the way it is supposed to be, you are just giving them information. Your son probably does remember what you have told him when he hits his sister, but how is he supposed to be kind when she broke apart his Legos©? Have you told him how to do that? Have you shown him how by your example, or is he remembering you shouting unkind things at a car that cut you off when you pulled into school that morning?
Telling your kids to be kind is not training them to be kind. Step 1 of the training process is giving them information. If you are telling your children what to think instead of working through with them HOW to think, you become a lecturing, reminding, threatening, demanding parent.
Step 2 is telling/showing them how to do it. Tell him how hard it would be for you to be kind to him if he walked across your clean floor with muddy shoes. Tell him what you would do to convince yourself to be kind to him instead of yelling at him. For you, being kind doesn’t mean taking away a consequence, since he was told to take his shoes off before he came into the house, it means not yelling at him first. Ask him to come up with a way he can stop himself before he hits his sister and comes to you to ask you to intervene instead. For him, not hitting her is being kind.
Okay, you have told him why he needs to be kind, talked with him about what it looks like to be kind, so why is he still not kind? Where does the “want to” come from? Good or bad, it comes from the heart. Unless Step 1 and Step 2 get to the heart it won’t stick.
There’s one more step. Step 3 has two different looks. One is to give your son praise when you see him showing his sister kindness. When you do this, make sure you let your husband know too, so he can praise your son when he gets home from work. The other thing to do is to give him a consequence when he isn’t kind to his sister. Once ALL 3 of these steps are in place, you will see what you tell your children go into their hearts.
Ultimately, your kids need to be kind just like you do because God tells us that is the way to live.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law.”