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My Kids Don’t Make Good Choices, What Can I Do?

By Joey and Carla Link
January 27, 2021

One of the greatest frustrations a parent faces is when their kids do the same wrong behavior again and again and again. For us, it was the laundry. Carla washed and folded it and put the clothes in each of our kids’ baskets for them to put away. We didn’t think putting their folded clothes away was a complicated job, but when Carla went by their rooms, she was often astonished where she found the clothes.
You have talked to your kids about the problem with their behavior and given them consequences, yet they keep on doing it. It could be their chores, doing their homework, or putting their laundry away. It is difficult for parents to figure out why they won’t complete their task completely. Their kids know they will have to do it anyway, so why mess around, get caught and then get a consequence for not doing it on time or for not doing it the way it needs to be done?
Why do they do this and what can parents do about it? Instead of getting frustrated with your kids, you need to talk to them in a calm tone when you aren’t angry with the goal to find out why they keep getting into trouble for the same thing. I remember Carla saying to our daughter Briana one time, “Are your dad and I consistent in catching you when you don’t get your stuff done?” (If we weren’t, Carla knew Bri was getting away with it enough to keep her going) Briana told her mom that we caught her most of the time because she knew we checked to see if she was getting her responsibilities done, because most of the time she wasn’t.
Carla then asked her if the consequences we gave her were effective, to which Briana assured her they most certainly were. Carla asked her that if we were catching her most of the time when she wasn’t getting her stuff done and the consequences were effective, and she still had to do the things over the right way, then why didn’t she just buckle down and get them done? We will never forget Briana looking at her mom and saying, “Well, when you put it that way it really doesn’t make sense, does it?” Briana started keeping track of what she needed to do and completed her tasks and schoolwork the way it was meant to be done after that conversation.
Parents need to find out from their kids why they are not doing what they have been taught to do. (Kids 7 yrs old and up)
1.   They didn’t understand the instruction. It’s possible the instruction was not clear enough. They need more understanding. Carla told the kids to put the laundry away. What exactly did “put away” mean to each of our children. When she asked them that question they all said it was to be put out of sight. Laundry baskets shoved in the closet, clean clothes shoved under the bed and for one child put under the covers on her bed was “out of sight” from their perspective. Carla took each one to their room and showed them exactly what she meant when she said to “put it away.” Your job is to make sure their perspective matches your perspective!
2.  When you have multiple ages of kids, young kids often are not given the same clear instruction the older ones received. They don’t learn why they need to do things in a timely manner and the right way. They are also modeling their older siblings who aren’t getting their stuff done so they don’t understand why it is a problem for their parents. Finding out what they understand in a calm one-on-one discussion is a necessary step.
3. It isn’t a big deal to your kids. Your kids don’t think getting their chores or homework done on Mom’s timeframe is a big deal. They plan to get to it eventually and if that’s good enough for them it should be good enough for Mom. This ultimately is a challenge to the parents’ authority and it needs to be dealt with.
Just giving a consequence only makes your kids angry and bitter because they disagree with your philosophy and don’t feel they get to voice what they feel. This isn’t a time for debate but it is the time for discussion.

  • With kids 7 yrs. on up, once you both agree the chores and schoolwork have to be done, ask them what they think is a fair timeframe to accomplish that.
  • Draw a timeline on a piece of paper. Mark the time you want their stuff done by and the time they think is fair.
  • Draw a line in the middle of these 2 times and tell your child that is where a compromise would be.
  • Decide what you both can live with.
  • Ask your child if you can trust him/her to be faithful in abiding by it.
  • Ask him/her what you should do if he/she doesn’t get their stuff done by the time you agreed on.
  • He knows a consequence is the right step for you to take.
  • Ask him/her what he thinks a fair consequence would be.

This is the way your kids will take ownership of getting their things done on time.
4. They don’t want to do it. If your kids know what is right and wrong when it comes to completing their chores and schoolwork and other misbehaviors and they understand why it is wrong, then consequences are the best choice to work on motivating them to decide doing their stuff and getting their misbehaviors under control is the best way to go.
Once choosing the right way becomes a habit for your kids, they will take ownership of these choices. It’s like putting on a seat belt in a car. You may not like it, you may not think it’s needed, but it’s the law, and we need to follow it. Once you accept that, and make it a habit, then it doesn’t become an issue, it just becomes part of our lives. It is the same for our kids and teens.
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”James 4:17

Training Your Kids’ Hearts

By Joey and Carla Link
January 26, 2022

Your kids are not always going to be kind to each other. They are not always going to be patient and let one of their siblings go first. One kid will do his/her chores while singing at the top of his lungs while one of your other kids whines and complains the entire time he is doing his chores. Your teen is mad at her preteen sister because she told her friend something the teen had asked her to keep private. 

Parenting is work and often hard work. When it comes to parenting the first thing we have talked about many times is getting a high level of obedience from them. Do you call your child’s name and expect the response of “Yes Mommy”? Do they come to you? Do they do what you tell them to do? If not, it is time to step up your obedience training. In our minds and experience this is a non-negotiable for a successful life.

If your obedience training is going well, working on training your kids’ hearts is up next. What do we mean by training their hearts? You are preparing their heart to belong to God (when they choose to follow Him for life) and to know how to serve Him. 

Looking back at the 1st paragraph of this blog, the root of the issues mentioned is a lack of kindness, patience, cheerfulness and loyalty. Root issues are moral character values listed in the Bible. So, how do you train your child’s heart?

First, keep your training “to-do” list narrowed down to working on one thing at a time. We cannot say this enough. I would make a list of four things I wanted to work on with each of my children. We would actively work on the first one and give reminders for the next one. The next two I didn’t do anything about unless I had to, there were on my list as a reminder to me we would get around to it eventually! And we always did. 

Do you have a plan to train your children? Do you have a firm idea in your mind of what training looks like?

There are 3 Steps when Training Children:1.You have to share knowledge – Your kids need to know why this character trait is important to you and God and why it needs to be important to them. Come up with creative ways to teach them the moral character traits that Godly hearts need. 

I (Carla) scheduled an hour each week to meet with each of my girls to work on training their hearts. The girls and I put together a notebook for each of them. I used a binder and had a section for Character Grades sheetsBible Story Activities and for Memory Verses. 2 weeks a month I picked Bible stories that talked about the positive side of the character trait, like being honest and the other 2 weeks about the negative side, which in this case would be lying.

Each week I asked them to give me examples of how they had been working on it and examples of when they didn’t. Then I shared examples both positive and negative that I had noticed. I asked them to grade themselves on how well they were honest that week when they wanted to lie. I kept copies of their grade sheets on my computer and graded them too. If our grades were really different, I would ask them why they thought I didn’t come up with the same grade they did. They had to come up with one way they were going to work on that character quality that week and I praised them when I saw them doing it. Want to know more? It is all explained in the Mom’s Notes presentationUsing the Bible in the Instruction and Training of Your Children. Both my girls are adults now and have kept these binders. 

2.Knowledge alone will not motivate children to work on a character trait. They need the practical application that goes with the knowledge. In other words, they need to know how to do what you are teaching them. You tell your 3-yr old to be kind to her brother. Do you think she really knows what “be kind” looks like? Instead, ask her to tell you how she could show kindness to her brother. These types of questions will show you if your kids know what you mean when you say a certain word or phrase. 

3.Children will need motivation to follow through with putting what you are teaching them into practice. Another word for “motivation” is consequences. Before you start working on a character trait with your child, have in mind what appropriate consequences can be applied when necessary that are agreeable to both you and your spouse. 

Positive forms of motivation are praise and encouragement. When you encourage your kids you are telling them you know they can do it. Praise them when they do it the right way.

Knowledge, practical application and consequences are the three steps to effectively training your children, and all three are required to do the job successfully. Get together with your spouse and evaluate the level of obedience each one of your children has. If it is not better than 75%, then put that at the top of your list.

  • Sit down with your spouse and come up with a list of three things for each of your children that need work.
  • Think in terms of character traits. Don’t put down you want to teach them to remember to do their chores. Put down you want to teach them responsibility instead. That is thinking in terms of character traits. Now you might use following through with chores as the tool to accomplish this, and that’s okay.
  • Take your spouse on a kid date (because you are going to talk about the kids) and come up with goals and a plan of action and get to work!

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”Proverbs 22:6

“Really, Did You Just Do That?!”

By Joey and Carla Link

January 20, 2021

Think for a moment, how many times have you either said these phrases to your kids or thought them?

  • “Please move over so they can get by.”
  • “Can’t you see you are in people’s way?”
  • “Why didn’t you hold the door for those older people?”
  • “Quit running! You almost knocked that person over.”
  • “Watch where you are going!”

 These are common phrases that often roll off a parent’s tongue when they’re exasperated with their children. I (Joey) was in a crowd of people when I saw a 5 year-old child oblivious to people around him as he was messing around. He was about to trip over an adult when his mom yelled, “What are you doing? You almost knocked that person over!”
I would like to say he quit messing around, but he didn’t. He would look at his mom every so often to see if she was paying attention, and when he realized she was more interested in talking to people than keeping track of him he ran wild, encouraging other kids present to follow him.
Out of the corner of his eye, this boy’s dad saw what he was doing and told him to stop, then went to his wife and told her she needed to keep her eye on him. She told her husband that she had told their son to stop running.
Let us ask you a question. How often when you yell at your kids to pay attention to what they are doing do you see them stop and obey? Oh, they may stop and obey until you take your eyes off them, but they are usually up and running again when they think you aren’t paying attention.
Even a child who is usually well-behaved could very well give in to the temptation to run with the other kids. So, what’s a parent to do?

  1. If your child is not characterized by coming to you when you call his/her name with a good attitude 80% of the time, we encourage you to step up your obedience training.
  2. When you tell your child to “Stop!” or give another command or instruction, go over to him and say it directly to him and wait until you get a “Yes Mom.” Have him repeat what it is he thinks you are telling him to do or not do.
  3. Make sure you give your kids a pre-activity warning when you are in the car. Ask them what the family rules are for the setting you are going into. Make sure all your kids can tell you what they are and what they should not do while there.
  4. Take along things for them to do. If you leave them to entertain themselves, they will get into trouble. You can count on it. We always kept a bag in the van with books, color books and crayons, Uno© cards and so forth.

What’s a Pre-Activity Warning? When you are getting ready to go somewhere, before you get there (that’s the pre-activity part) ask your child to explain what the family rules will be once you get there.

  • This works because your child isn’t in trouble, so he is listening to you.
  • It won’t work if you haven’t already explained the rules to him. Having “Store Rules” would be a good example of this.
  1. You can give all your kids the instruction or rules at the same time, but work with them individually to make sure they know you mean business.
  2. Once you know your kids understand your instruction, one at a time, set up an opportunity to see how they handle it.
  • Plan to take just one child at a time to the store when your husband can stay home with the others.
  • Ask your child what the “Store Rules” are before you get out of the car.
  • When you are in the store, see if he sticks to them. If our kids didn’t, we had them hold on to the cart and they lost the freedom to speak.
  • We wouldn’t give him this freedom back until we got in the car.
  • The first words out of his mouth should be an apology to you for not sticking to the rules.
  • If your child did stick to the rules, praise him while you are shopping and again before you get back home. Remember to tell his dad how well he did.

Believe it or not, getting the “Yes Mom” is the key for your child to commit themselves to stick to the rules. It’s their verbal agreement of giving their word that helps teach them to keep their word.
Too many times parents try to train out of frustration or during discipline situations, which really doesn’t teach a child anything. What they do know is you are only trying to corral them in that moment.Pre-activity warnings are good things for you and the kids. They are great reminders that your child needs rules while you are out and about and that you need to pay attention to whether he sticks to them or not.
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”Colossians 3:20 (ESV)

Are You a Growing Parent?

By Joey and Carla Link
January 6, 2021

Recently a dad shared with us this story about his young son. Dad gave his son a cup full of juice (no lid) and the child begged him to let him carry it to the table himself. I can hear the groans from every mom reading this! In the child’s excitement, he didn’t see the family’s dog walking in front of him, as he was focused on the glass of red juice. Just before he reached the table, he stepped on the dog and spilled the juice all over the floor and onto the white kitchen wall. The boy was inconsolable over the spill but also over the punishment he was sure would be coming his way. Dad surprised his son by helping him clean up the mess with a smile on his face. He had watched the entire thing and realized his son didn’t see the dog move in front of him when he was so diligently focused on not spilling the cup of juice. What Dad didn’t do, was wipe all the drops of the red juice off the white wall. He told us that by leaving the stains there they were a reminder of the accident. Dad realized with his older children he had yelled at them for their irresponsibility when accidents happened, even when that was what they were, just accidents. There was no malicious intent on the part of his kids nor were they careless. An accident is when something unexpectedly happens and no one sees it coming. Thankfully, this Dad had matured over the years and realized his kids didn’t need his anger and frustration when something unexpectedly goes wrong. They needed his support and encouragement so they wouldn’t be afraid to try again. His youngest child benefitted from this when he accidentally spilled his juice. That his impulsive son stayed so totally focused on not spilling his juice was a huge victory for this child, and Dad wisely encouraged and praised him for it. Hopefully you learn to be a better parent with each child God gives you. In this case, we are glad that this dad realized his need to apologize to his older children for his anger towards them when they were younger when they made similar mistakes. This kind of apology will go a long, long way in the heart and mind of your kids. 

  • Do you have a child that you have offended in training, either with your anger or high expectations?
  • Do you have a child that at times seems standoffish to you because of how you might have offended them, by pushing them too hard or being overbearing with them?

  Our kids can get offended with us over persistent unacceptable behavior on our parts over the long term and we don’t realize it. While the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) was so concerned for and focused on his wayward son, he missed seeing the offense he caused to his older son who had faithfully served him and who was always obedient and reliable. Your openly “rebellious to authority” kids (especially those with the Choleric temperament) will take up more of your parenting time, effort and training. We want to encourage you to praise the ones that do what you ask and are a joy to you and to find ways to encourage them as you continue to teach and train them as well. Positive encouragement for some kids can do as much as correction will do for another child. Be a growing parent! Surround yourself with resources and mentors/coaches who can and will give you fresh insights into parenting all your kids. 
“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and theydo not mature.  But the seed that falls on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”Luke 8:14-15

Celebrating Jesus

By Joey and Carla Link

December 16, 2020

How do your kids celebrate Jesus’ birthday? It’s one thing to play Christmas songs, have a manager set up in your home, and read Christmas stories to them. It is quite another thing for them to understand this baby grew up to die on the cross to take away their sins so they can live forever in heaven.
To kids, Christmas is all about the presents under the tree. They (and we) get bombarded with this picture everywhere we look. When you go shopping in a store, you see a glistening tree that is all about what you are going to get for Christmas. Rarely do you see a tree that celebrates the birth of our Savior. You can take your kids to see Christmas lights on houses and you might even say “Look! There is baby Jesus in his manager!” But when do you sit down with them to tell them in ways they can understand just what the Christmas story and its importance to them is?
If you feel they already know it, look for something new in the story. This year I (Joey) read this story looking for some fresh new facts about it to encourage my faith in the Christmas story. Carla is going through a Christmas Advent Devotional this month for the same purpose, to get excited about Christmas again. Not because we will see some of our kids and grandkids, but to once again be in awe of what God did to send Jesus to us in human form.
HOW CAN YOU GET YOUR KIDS EXCITED ABOUT JESUS THIS CHRISTMAs?1.    Celebrate Advent as a family. Each week represents one aspect of the Christmas story: prophecy, shepherds, wise men, angles and Jesus’ birth on Christmas Eve. When our kids were little we got candles that represented each of these and assigned one week to each of our children. We had them do research and present that week’s emphasis to our family. They were creative and it was a memory making time for our family.
2.    Read kid-friendly Christmas stories. Around the dinner table a couple nights a week would be a great time to read Christmas story books to your children. We encourage you to add a book about the cross one night too to bring Jesus’ life full circle.
3.    Read Christmas devotional books each morning or before bedtime. The Jotham’s JourneySeries, consists of 5 books about kids that lived during the time Jesus was born. This excellent series follows their lives and adventures as they intertwine with the life of our Lord. Imaginations come to life as they hear a story of a child on a Christmas adventure. Amazon carries these books so be sure to check them out.
4.    Christmas dramas bring life to the Christmas story. Act out a Christmas play in your own home with the parents as the narrator, having the kids play different parts, even dressing up with robes for wise men or shepherds, and getting a baby doll for baby Jesus.
The key to all these ideas is the discussion they should encourage your family to engage in. Get feedback from your kids on what they learned. Just as kids’ minds are stretched learning new math skills, they need to be stretched learning new facts and insights from the Christmas story to encourage their faith and for them to allow Jesus to be the King in their lives.

  • Ask your kids what new fact they heard. If they can’t come up with anything, they likely are not listening intently.
  • Ask questions like:
  • What do you think will happen next?
  • What would you have done if you were in their place?
  • Would you have made a different choice?
  • If you were a Wiseman would you think you were following the wrong star?
  • Would you have followed a star in the sky for 2 years, riding a camel and sleeping in the hot desert?
  • “If you were a shepherd, would you have really left your sheep, which was your responsibility in plain sight to go worship a baby?
  • What if someone came and took off with your flock? What would you do then?
  • If you were Joseph, would you be worried about finding a place for Mary to rest when she was in so much pain? Would you have felt like you failed her when you ended up in a stable with cows and camels?

It’s one thing to celebrate Christmas with your kids, it’s another thing to encourage and build up their faith in God through Christmas every year. May your family be excited about the celebration of our Lord!