Mini Blog #7: Teaching Kids to Comply with Expectations: Your Approach Makes All the Difference.

The past few blogs have centered on annoying habits such as interrupting, arguing, screaming, whining and complaining. How much of your daily parental efforts wind up being thwarted by these disruptive behaviors? Just think how differently your home would feel if your children instead learned to wait their turn, to thoughtfully express their emotions and to respectfully state their needs and wants! Does that sound too good to be possible? It shouldn’t be. Kids can and should learn these skills but your approach will make all the difference in (1) what actually transpires as well as (2) whether their improvements in behavior flow from a heart change or merely in order to get what they want, to avoid punishment or to gain your approval. We can threaten and bribe. We can yell and scream. We can try to scare them into compliance. But we might lose their hearts in the process and that’s a steep price to pay. In Ephesians 6:4 we are told to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord Jesus. What does that practically look like?  This is what I imagine: Gentle but not weak Consistent but not legalistic Gracious but holding to standards Patient but not excusing Corrective but not criticizing Self-controlled but not controlling Which of these speaks to you today? Recently for me it’s been the concept of gentleness. To be gentle, yet not weak. The opposite of gentle is to be harsh. Irritable. Severe. When I am running late or get inconvenienced, when I am feeling discouraged or disappointed, gentleness does not come easy. These are vulnerable times for me...

Mini Blog #5: Putting an End to Fit Throwing and Arguing

I love my grandkids. They are full of spunk however and a very determined lot. The 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds (of which there are FIVE) often prefer to pout, argue and scream rather than comply. The school age ones are also prone to arguing and insisting on getting their way. In all this, I see the promise of leadership, of SISU (Finnish for grit or dogged determination), and of godly purpose in their lives. Raising up determined kids is challenging and exhausting at times. Nothing is more aggravating to a parent than incessant fit throwing or arguing by a child. How you choose to respond, however, will either reinforce or serve to extinguish this type of behavior. I admit that sometimes I am tempted to react back, to threaten, and to demand obedience. Yet deep inside, I know this does not work. Efforts to gain compliance by intense, forceful words, or actions may temporarily stop the behavior because the child fears the repercussions. It may even help the parent feel they are in control. But who is really winning in the midst of these power struggles? And what type of behavior are we actually fostering? Arguing back with a frustrated, angry child actually prevents authentic communication from occurring by keeping the issue at the surface reactionary level. Such a cycle breaks down connection between the parent and child and puts distance between their hearts. Plus, we wind up modeling the very behavior we want them to stop. So how can we help our children grow hearts that desire to respect and obey those in authority over them? What can we...