February often brings a bit of cabin fever in our home… earlier this week I felt it begin to set in and realized that since it wasn’t quite February, it wasn’t allowed yet. So, to fight this annual disease I decided to write a short list of things that I could do with my 3 and 5 year olds. It was a simple enough list; all managable things that we could do.
After finishing up our pre-school and kindergarten classes, we started on my list. It looked something like this:
Make Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
Go to the Library
Make a snowman
Have a tea party
Make Valentines Cards
Plan a Scavenger Hunt
Play Chutes and Ladders
Go out for Coffee/Hot Cocoa
A simple list; but it lasted us a couple days(and we even have a couple activities left)… and we all had a lot of fun and completely forgot about the cabin fever.
The title says it all… learn to require black and white obedience. Kids are great negotiators… but when they are young, they need to respond with obedience, immediate obedience.
For a child there can be no in between. No gray. And no half way. How many times when we tell them what is expected of them do we 100% follow through? How often do we decide that it is “close enough”? I believe that it happens a little too often. I tend to agree that children understand black and white obedience far better than “gray”. Yes and No, better than “maybe”. And good and bad better than “okay”.
Furthermore, I would suggest repetition on the exercise of obedience. Yesterday, I read a great quote from G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy that said, “A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “do it again;” and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-ups are not strong enough to exult in monotony.” I thought this was an interesting point, and so true. How is it that you could play hide ‘n seek with your child for 3 hours and he would still not tire of it…. I think the same may be true of obedience… they will learn by repetition and though it may seem like monotony to you; it is how their little mind works best.
This afternoon, I put the children on “silence”, because of some bickering. Soon I heard some peevish little whispering. After once again setting the “silence”, I overheard further tapping noises made with one of their tongues… it occurred to me that they were testing to see just how silent, “silence” meant. We practiced silence several times throughout the course of the afternoon.
When you practice obedience with your children, use the Black and White Obedience technique…. Silence means no talking, no noises, no sounds coming out of their mouth.
Be willing to use that repetition that seems so very monotonous. Remember, “they want things repeated and unchanged.”
It is a simple thing, yet it makes such a big difference. I think there is an art to learning how to respond. Evidently it is an art that some of us have to keep on learning! (myself included )
At the earliest ages, we taught our children to say “Yes” through sign language. As they grew, it became verbal including the title to whom they were speaking: “Yes, Mommy.” I was always amazed how the simple act of requiring a respectful response was often automatically followed by obedience. What Dad wouldn’t love to be responded to with a confident “Yes, sir?”
Today I was unfortunately reminded that learning it at 2 years old, does not mean that it is there for life! I think it may be time to practice the cheery respectful response some more! It is a good reminder for all of us whatever out age.
This past weekend I was asked to write a letter to someone’s nanny with recommendations on how to best work with their children. When I received this request it really made me wonder… how often do parents come to the point where they don’t even know how to deal with their children anymore? How often do they just come to the end of their rope and wish they could just have someone come in and re-train their mis-behaved kids?
So… anyway, after a whole lot of thought, I decided that probably the single most important thing that I would recommend would be tender, but firm consistency.
Now, I am not talking about reminding your sweet little girl that she isn’t suppose to scream, kick or fight. Instead, I am suggesting some very deliberate discipline, whether it is simple time-outs, spankings, loss of privileges – whatever/however you are inclined to deal with your child, but it has to be incredibly consistent and you can not give up! Retain your calm even keel; even if you are steaming inside, don’t let the anger win. Just be consistent. It won’t be long before they will just quit testing you… if they know that it is not tolerated.
I remember so many times, when my oldest children were young, wondering if they would ever learn to say “please” and “thank you” without having to remind them. We would practice repeatedly while we worked, played, ate… “Thank you Mommy for breakfast.” ” Thank you Daddy for tying my shoe.”
I think that one of the most pleasurable ways to teach manners is at an afternoon tea. Of course, who couldn’t enjoy taking a break in the middle of the day to sit and chat over tea? When the children are young, it is fun to invite many stuffed animals or dolls, that way the children can help teach the “guests.” It is a delight to hear a four year old repeat to a teddy bear, “Would you care for some tea?” “Would you like cream or sugar?” and to have the child reply for the bear, “Oh, yes please!” and “Thank you so much!”
Even now that many of our children are older, there is nothing like sitting together with a cup of tea in hand. It seems to set the mood for some quality time. I still want my children to know, whatever the age, that I have time for them and I want to listen.
As I was reading this morning, early before household began to rise, I came across a passage that God had impressed on me years ago. It was during one of many times of feeling incapable and unworthy of raising a houseful of children. How could I teach and train for God’s glory? How can I discipline each child, in each situation in a manner that is effective and bring about a lasting change in heart?
“For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”
1 Corinthians 2:11-13
I noticed the side note I had written next to that verse in my Bible. “May I have ‘spiritual thoughts, words’ and wisdom as I train our children.” The world’s wisdom says to count to 10 before dealing with an issue so as not to react in anger. I am so thankful that God gives us so much more! We can be taught by His Spirit and given spiritual thoughts combined with spiritual words. May I always remember to pause and seek His face before responding to each issue.
Further Up, Further In
going a little deeper in the the “why and who says”
How many days have I woke up feeling inadequate for the task before me? Who am I to think that I am qualified to teach all of these children? I am not intellectual…I am not a certified teacher…I am not a team of teachers loaded with an impressive educational background. My list of “I am not” is long and I am quite capable of adding to it each day.
But God…Because of God, I am more qualified then anyone else! It is He that is in me. Anything and everything that God calls me to do, I am more then qualified for. He will provide all that I need to be able of accomplish the task that He has set before me.
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”
1 Corinthians 2: 12-13
Further Up, Further In
going a little deeper in the the “why and who says”