By Joey and Carla Link
April 28 2021
In our community, we always looked forward to neighborhood spring cleanup days. On these days, a person could get rid of furniture and other items you no longer want, setting stuff out in front of your house on a specific day and then the city cleanup crews would come around and pick it up and take it to the dump. Since our kids are grown, we have had the best intentions of going through piles of stuff that has accumulated in their former bedrooms and attic. But life gets in the way and somehow cleaning out always gets put on the list titled, “Later”. We wonder how many parents put off cleaning up and out their kids’ wrong behavior issues, thinking they will deal with them “later”. Then one day you realize “later” has arrived and it’s time to clean things up and throw them out of your child’s heart. You start working on a behavioral issue in your child’s life that needs a parentally supervised clean up. It isn’t long before the WOW! factor kicks in. Your persistence in staying involved in your child’s cleanup efforts reveals many other rooms in your child’s heart that are filled with junk that needs a clean sweep as well. For instance, a family we have worked with recently has a 9 year old with an unkempt heart. When they started pulling back the layers of dirt, they found not just lying but deception taking root there to the point they no longer knew if they could trust anything he said. A 14-year-old girl was making everyone in the family miserable while she was trying to get a paper done that was due for school. She was making her family pay for her procrastination. To her way of thinking, that she had waited 2 weeks to get started on it was irrelevant. When we encouraged her parents to look into other areas of her life her tendency to procrastinate could have (unknown to them) affected, they were surprised to find she frequently didn’t get homework papers turned in which were going to affect her grades, which would substantially affect her ability to get into college. These families later told us they appreciated our encouragement to spring clean the closets hidden in their kid’s hearts. Spring Cleaning Basics:1. How are they doing in the 4 levels of Obedience Training? Give your kids a grade in each of the 4 levels of obedience:
- If they don’t come to you when you call their name 75% of the time or better, put that at the top of your “spring cleaning” list for this child.
- The 4 levels of obedience training are coming to you when you call their name immediately, they say “Yes Mom/Dad” as they are coming and look you in the eye when they get to you, they don’t argue with you or whine and complain as they come.
Why don’t we notice when our kids are sliding down the slippery slope of disobedience? While it may not always be possible at the moment, it is easier to deal with our kids’ disobedient behavior before it becomes a habit or gets out of control. 2. Tighten up your child’s boundaries – “Credit Card Parenting” — pay now with no interest or you can let your kids jump over their boundaries again and again and pay off your child’s bad behavior debt over time.
- Help your kids get on a routine so they get their schoolwork and chores done at consistent times. Your “helping” includes approving what they (10 yrs. and up) come up with for a routine and holding them accountable for sticking to it.
- Consequences for not sticking with it? Take away the privilege of what they were doing instead.
- Remember to praise them when they do stick to the routine, which they are more likely to do if they come up with it themselves.
3. Look at character rootsthat are driving the symptoms you see – One reason our efforts to work on our kids’ wrong behavior aren’t working is because you are dealing with symptoms of the behavior but not the root of it.
- The root issue is always tied to character. Are they kind in words, tone and deed? Are they selfish? Lacking in self-control?
- Make a list of character traits and grade each of your kids 6 yrs. and up in them. This is an easy way to see at a glance where each of your kid’s hearts need training.
4. Don’t forget about your child who disobeys quietly (passive rebellion). If you have one child whose heart needs spring cleaning, you can assume your other kids’ hearts do as well. If this is too overwhelming for you right now, then make it a goal to (with your spouse) get to work on the oldest child. Solomon knew what he was talking about when he said:
“Train up a child in the way he should go;even when he is old he will not depart from it.”Proverbs 22:6