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Out With the Old, In With the New!

With the start of a new year, people are often ready for new beginnings. One of the problems with a New Year’s resolution or a new beginning is we start with a grand vision but don’t always have a practical plan to put it into practice, and if we don’t, we aren’t consistent in implementing it. This is often the case when it comes to parenting. You want your kids to behave, but do you have a plan how to accomplish this?

 You have a parenting toolbox full of things you use every day with your kids. I recently cleaned out my sewing box and threw things away that were worn out and no longer usable. There are things in your parenting toolbox that are worn out and you should throw away. One of these tools is reminding. When you remind your kids to do something, you are doing their thinking for them. They don’t have to remember what they are supposed to be doing because you have trained them to wait for your reminder. We were guilty of this in our parenting. The day came when we decided to stop reminding.

When our son was in Middle School, a friend of ours gave him several new CDs of his favorite music groups. He was so excited to look them over he didn’t say ‘Thank you.’ We were horrified of course, but did not remind him. Instead, when we got in the car we took the CDs away. When he asked us why, we told him to think about why we thought he didn’t deserve them. It took him most of the day to realize he had not shown gratefulness for this unexpected gift. Once he wrote a thank you note and put it in the mail, he got his CDs back.

Giving your children consistent consequences really does hurt you more than it hurts them, but if you want to see changes in your child’s behavior, it is the way to go.  Throughout the entire Bible, God clearly shows consequences are the effect of disobedience. Your child doesn’t do his chores? He loses the freedom of what he was doing instead of the chore. You teen doesn’t get ready for school on time? When he gets enough tardies, he will get detention. If you don’t stop bailing your kids out with reminders, who is going to do if for them when they get to college?

Replace reminders with encouragement. When you see your child ‘remembering’ to get his stuff done on his own, give him a work of encouragement. Noticing when your child is doing something right in God’s eyes is the best motivation for him to change his behavior. It is a new year. Out with the old (reminders) and in with the new (consistent consequences). You might be surprised at the changes you will see! So, it is a new year. Out with the old (lectures and reminders) and in with the new (consequences). You might be surprised at the changes you will see in your children’s behavior!

 

Monica BrownMay 26, 2013 - 2:46 am

Hi there. .I am just now reading all your articles ( :
somehow I missed it when you first published it. . .anyway, encouraging my children is something I am always working on so this was a GREAT reminder and it’s so fun to see our children progress from immature behavior to mature behavior. . .love this story. . .so practical. Thank you!

Monica

What Are Your Kids Saying?

Have you listened to your children play lately? Or should I ask, have you listened to how your children play? Children can develop attitudes when they play that can readily be heard by anyone paying attention. When the noise level increases, Mom or Dad will typically say something like, “Settle down,” or “Say something nice or don’t say anything at all!”

 

How many times a day do you catch yourself saying (or thinking) these kinds of phrases? How many times do you have to repeat yourself before your children comply?  Why do your children have the freedom to talk in unkind ways? Do your children do and say what they want until they have pushed you over the edge and you get on them? Correcting them when it gets to this point is not training your children. Working with them in a structured time of no conflict is.

 

What do we mean by this? To train your children is to teach them how God wants them to live. Like teachers in schools, parents need to have a plan (a structured time) to accomplish this. What does a plan look like?

 

First, since training your kids in moral values is based on how God wants us to live, you will need to know what Scripture has to say about the topic. What does the Bible say about unkind speech? Ephesians 4:29 says:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,

but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs,

that it may benefit those who listen.”

 

Don’t assume kids understand words in verses. Ask them what ‘unwholesome’ talk is and don’t be surprised when they don’t know. Have a dictionary handy and look it up together. It means, “morally corrupt.” Make sure your kids know what those words mean. Then talk about what kinds of words God would consider morally corrupt.  It certainly would be bad words. We don’t necessarily mean vulgar language. ‘Bad words’ could be phrases like “shut up” or “You’re stupid.” These are not moral words because they do not build people up, they tear them down.

 

Do your kids know what building someone up looks like? Role play with them how to encourage their siblings with words. This verse says we are to build others up according to their needs, not our own needs. Children (and adults) often build others up to benefit themselves, not the other person. Role play what this would look like. Children need to have a picture in their mind of what something looks like before they can absorb the concept being presented. Another way you can demonstrate this would be to share with them how kindly you speak to your spouse even when you don’t like what he/she is saying.

 

The last part of the verse tells us when we do this, it benefits (influences) those who are listening. Tell your children that when they encourage someone to build them up for that person’s benefit, they can influence others in the room for good.

 

When teaching kids what the Bible says about how to live their lives, break down the verse piece by piece as we just did, and don’t leave any part out!  Of course this is age-appropriate. You can’t teach young children what they do not have the moral capacity to understand.

 

So what do you do when ‘unwholesome’ talk comes out of your kid’s mouth?  Have a place in your house where your child can go when you tell him (or her) to go sit. This place needs to be out of the flow of traffic. Tell him to go sit and think about what he could say instead that would build the person up he was speaking to. The child can’t get off the chair until he has thought of something positive to say and is willing to apologize and make it right with the one he offended. Always try to find a way to direct your child to the ‘good’ you want to see from him.

 

I remember one day when our son Michael was in the 3rd grade I asked him how school was that day. When he told me about the football game he was playing in at lunch recess, he said, “We kicked their *&#*# all over the field.” Instead of getting upset and mad at him for using a word that was definitely unwholesome, I told him it was a word that was unacceptable to use which is why he had never heard his Mom or I use it, and I asked him not to use it again. When he asked me why we didn’t say this word, I told him it talked about body parts that are not acceptable to speak about in public.  Because of the trusting relationship we had, he agreed.

 

Did he fully understand what I was saying? Probably not. If you wait until your children understand what you are training them to do and say before you require them to do it, what barometer will control their speech and behavior until you are sure they do? You can require them to do something before they understand the ‘why’ of what you are telling them to do. This is called “actions precede belief,” and is why parents bother to teach their toddlers to say ‘please’. When children finally understand what a courtesy is, they will be in the habit of saying it.

 

There is one more thing in this verse that is worth pointing out. Paul said “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth…” The key word is “let.” We need to help our children learn how to control what comes out of their mouths and what doesn’t. What we say is a choice! Teach your children what they can do instead of saying things that are unkind.

 

How wholesome is your speech? Is this something that you need to work on to show your children how to be kind when you talk, especially when you are angry? Remember more of your parenting is caught through example than taught!

 

 

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,

but only what is helpful for building others up

according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Ephesians 4:29

 

 

Celebrating Advent with Children

Christmas! What a wonderful time of the year! Is it?? Advertising starts so early, children start clamoring for toys before Thanksgiving. Materialism, greed, parties that don’t celebrate anything of value, and performances galore is what our culture has turned Christmas into.

How can you turn this around in your family? One way to do this is to celebrate advent. Below you will find wonderful books (Jotham’s Journey and Bartholomew’s Passage) that share stories during the advent season in biblical times. Celebrating advent is an adventure that will bring the true meaning of Christmas into your home throughout the month of December.

During the advent season, one new candle is lit each week. While our children were growing up, instead of tapered candles, we took the children to find candles that represented what they stood for. One year she found a sparkling purple and red jar that would hold a votive candle to represent the prophecy of the coming King (purple is the color of royalty). For the shepherd’s candle, I remember when we found a dark blue candle that had been rolled in silver glitter. One of our girls thought it looked like a starry night. We put a small porcelain lamb by it. We found a glittering gold candle in the shape of a star for the wise men candle, and a gold metal angel with a place to put a small votive candle finished the candles we needed to get for the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve.

Carla would arrange all of these on a gold placemat in the center of our coffee table. In the middle was a red and purples velvet box she mad that was propped open by a gold candle in the shape of a gift to represent the greatest gift of all, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Whenever we had friends of any age in the house, our kids would take them in to look at the candles and carefully explained how each participated in the birth of Christ.

 

Once our kids were around 4th grade or so, we assigned them a week and had them write a story about that week’s candle. They also picked a Christmas carol that went along with that week’s theme for the family to sing together while the candles were lit. They eagerly shared what they had learned and looked forward to lighting the candle that week. Set a time each week to celebrate advent. Notice we used the word, ‘celebrate’. It truly should be a celebration, not just one more thing to do.

In the bookstore we carry three books we highly recommend for the advent season and we have had many families tell us what a blessing these books have been for their family. The first in this series is Jotham’s Journey, followed by Bartholomew’s Passage and Tabitha’s Travels. All three stories take place during the birth of Christ. With this series you have three years of advent celebration!

 

Teaching Thankfulness

We are told in Scripture) to “give thanks in all circumstances…” (I Thessalonians 5:18) Parents start teaching their young children thankfulness when they teach them to say “Thank you” when they get something. What are other ways you can teach your children to be grateful?

 

Have them write thank you notes when they receive something special, or someone does something nice for them. Work with them to thank God for at least three things before they make any requests when they pray. Kids can show their thankfulness to someone (like Grandma) by doing something nice for them.

 

Have you ever given thanks for the circumstances in your life that are not positive as well as the good? The verse above says to give thanks in ALL circumstances. Have you taught your children to? When they are negative about something, have them share one positive they can be thankful for.

 

Most of you know that we were in a horrific car accident some years ago. As a result of my injuries, I have been left in debilitating pain (RSD). When I am struggling to keep my focus on the positive, I write three things down in a notebook that I am thankful for. Then I read all the things I have already written down. I start a new list every few months. Nothing turns my attitude around quicker than remembering how to be grateful.

 

In the month of November while our children were growing up, I would draw a tree (with no leaves) on a large poster board. I would cut out leaves in fall colors and each night at dinner everyone got a leaf. Joey would give a topic and everyone had to write one thing they were thankful for in that area on their leaf. All family members attached their leaf to the tree when they had finished writing. On Thanksgiving Day, everyone got to read the leaves they had written on. It was a wonderful way to get the focus off of selfishness and on to realizing how much we had to be grateful for.

 

In today’s culture, thankfulness has gone out the window with other courtesies. Brainstorm as a family to think of ways to show gratefulness to people. Showing thankful hearts on a regular basis leads to contentment and happiness, a blessing in itself.

Putting Others First

We thought we were teaching our children to put the needs of others first, according to the commandment found in Luke 10:27: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

When we took Growing Kids God’s Way and learned the six areas and groups of people our kids needed to show honor and respect to however, we discovered all our previous efforts had been haphazard at best.

 

Another way of saying this is children need to show others they are precious to them. What are the six areas and groups of people parents should teach their kids to show ‘preciousness’ to? All of us should treat the elderly, our parents and people in authority with respect and honor. Add peers (neighbors) and siblings to this group and nature (plants and animals) and property (yours and others) and we have enough to work on for life.

 

Interestingly enough, the one group of people God does not command us to love is ourselves. Why do you think this is? In the verse quoted above He says to love your neighbor as yourself. What is implied here is the simple fact we already love ourselves. God gave each of us a love for ourselves at birth. If we did not love ourselves, we would not protect ourselves from harm and we would not have a reference point from which to love others.

 

How can you train your kids to think of others, especially in the culture of entitlement (being told we deserve everything we want without working for it) we live in? You will be surprised to find how simple this can be by using one phrase.

 

Next time your kids are headed for trouble, pull them aside one-by-one and ask this question: “Who are you thinking of right now?” Your child will respond he is thinking of himself. Ask him who he should be thinking of. He will respond he should be thinking of others.

 

Given the circumstance your child is in at the moment, get specifics. Ask him who he should be thinking about right now. (The sibling he just hit; the sister whose toy he just broke, even accidentally; you, for not taking the trash out)

 

Then ask him to think of one way he can show this person he is willing to put their needs above his own. When your child comes up with something, ask him if he is willing to do it right then. If he says “No,” he gets to sit and do nothing (including talk and get out of the chair) until he is willing to do what he came up with. Unless your child is under five years of age, resist the temptation to tell him what he could do to show ‘preciousness’ to the one he offended.

 

After you have been working on this for a while, all you will need to do is whisper in their ear, “Who are you thinking of right now?” or “Who should you be thinking of right now?” and more often than not, your child will change the direction he is headed in.