By Joey and Carla Link
October 6, 2021
You’ve told your 6 yr. old son he has to be kind to his 3 yr. old sister no matter what. God said to be kind to each other and so that is what everyone in your family is going to do. (Ephesians 4:32) Yet time and time again, your son hits his sister when he gets mad at her. Never mind she broke his toy!
What do you do when he hits his sister? Do you 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. We are fairly sure your son remembers he isn’t to hit her, but how is he supposed to be kind when she broke his toy? Have you told him that? Do you shown him how to be kind no matter what 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? Have you opened your Bible to this verse and talked to him about why God thinks showing kindness is so important?
Telling your kids to be kind is not training them to be kind.
Step 1 of the training process is to give 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. Telling them to be kind is not even giving them information if you aren’t telling them why they should be kind in all situations, especially if the other person isn’t kind to them.
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 come to you to ask you to intervene on his behalf 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 #wanttobekind come from? 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 and encouragement 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. It’s a process, not a one-time “telling or yelling” from you.